How To Express Love Around the World

Those three little words can mean so much in English. However, their equivalents in other languages can vary from the feelings we associate with the phrase. From reserved behavior to involving the family, love and courtship differ greatly across the world.

Here are the ways that people express love around the world.


The well-known arranged marriages of India have begun to make way for “love marriages” and “blends” – where a person will ask their parents to help them arrange a marriage with a specific person in mind. They believe that love is something that grows over time and the wedding day is “day one.” In India, love is something only possible through time, commitment, and effort.


Known as a Gerewol, this beauty pageant is unique in that the participants are men and the judges are women. The men put on headdresses, makeup, and perform a dance in order to wow the women, not all of them being single. Performed by the Wodaabe people in times of good rain, the prize for being selected is the man himself.


In the Dominican Republic, they toss around the phrase “I love you” more frequently than in the U.S. However, those emotions are best left at home. So while holding hands and hugging and touching when meeting friends are public displays, the line is drawn there.


Family is extremely important in Latin American countries. In places like Colombia and Peru, you place your family’s needs before your own.

There are also two different versions of “I love you” – te quiero and te amo. The first is used casually and even with friends. The second however, is reserved for more serious relationships.


In Japan, where people are private about their emotions, most couples don’t kiss or hold hands in public. Rather, they show affection by taking care of each other. For example, a bento, or Japanese boxed lunch, are often made by a woman for a man. The more elaborate the bento, the more the man can brag and evoke the jealousy of other men.

Use these examples of how people express love around the world to show the people in your life that you care.

Post by Barbara Lee.

Barbara is a world traveler who is passionate about sustainable food systems, responsible consumerism, and holistic living. Her professional background and interests include writing, cooking, non-profit work, and eco-conservation.