Three big little words

My greatest apologies for posting this so late, there were blog issues, but look, ta daaah, we’re back up and running now. 

Here’s Sunday’s column, with a little help from some  e-cards I dug up off the net.  I hope you love it!



What is love? Other than a Haddaway song, first played along to full synthesizer in the early nineties. I listened carefully to the lyrics, but he doesn’t give very much away. Just a lot of ‘Whoa, whoa’s’ and ‘baby don’t hurt me’s’, which don’t inform anyone.

I understand that it’s a big question. In fact, ‘what is love’ was the most searched phrase on Google in 2012. But still, I can’t help but feel let down that Haddaway never offered any real solutions. How does he sleep at night? Perhaps he should have rather called the song, ‘What is Love – Sorry don’t know, can’t help you’. Or maybe we need to look to a different kind of singer for answers to the deep philosophical questions like this one, and leave the Haddaways of the world to handle matters of wrecking balls, and umbrella-ella-ellas.

Scientists say love is simply a powerful neurological condition, much like hunger or exhaustion. It’s the brain releasing chemicals, like pheromones, dopamine, serotonin and a bunch of others that sound quite boring. So the unromantic definition is that love is just chemistry. The only thing I can think of that rhymes with chemistry is dentistry. No wonder Haddaway stuck to ‘whoa whoa’s’ – those will rhyme with just about anything.

Like most people born in the seventies, I grew up in a family that didn’t say the l-word to each other, unless we were commenting on the good cheese or a book. It’s only now as an adult that I’ve learnt to say it to my nearest and dearest. But I’ve yet to say it to a romantic partner. Mainly because I haven’t found the right fit yet, and also because I think these words are one of our more dangerous pastimes, for a couple of reasons.

The first is that it’s a bit of a lie, isn’t it? That surge of hormones, empathy or desire makes you feel it very deeply in the moment. But nobody can actually love a partner for every second of every minute of every day, can they? Have you ever smelt morning breath!

I wonder how often people just blurt it out in a rush of endorphins and then regret it afterwards? Instead, maybe we should say, I love you right now this very second as we sit here. Wouldn’t that be more honest?  The l-word is a genie that’s very hard to put back in his bottle and human beings are too fickle for this kind of permanence.

Look at Nigella and Charles Saatchi. They were married for 10 years, so one can assume that at some point he told her he loved her. Right before he wrapped his hands around her neck.


The other danger of these three big little words, beside the possibility of four bullets through the bathroom door a week later, is that if you begin to feel it, then think about it and eventually blurt it out in a haze of wasabi over sushi one night, you have to be prepared for and manage whatever response may come. And I’m not sure what’s worse, if the other person says I love you back, or if they don’t!

Surely only the person who says it first can ever be truly believed? Chances are the person who responds is just filling in the sudden awkward gap that’s opened up in the conversation. Because the second you say it, you immediately point a fully loaded emotional shotgun in your partner’s face. Which is why you find yourself spitting out, ‘I love you’, and then following that up quickly with a couple of qualifiers: ‘But don’t feel like you have say it back, I don’t need an answer. It’s fine, no really! I was just putting it out there, forget I said anything’. These kinds of anxious disclaimers do kind of wash out the glow of a romantic moment.

And if it takes them six weeks to catch up to you and say it back, thanks a lot chum, but what are the chances you’ll still feel the same way then? After all, we’ve already established what a fleeting emotion it can be.



The ancient Greeks may have done it better than us. They had several variations of the L-word. The way Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow. Ranging from the emotions you feel for close friends or family, to the lust you feel when you’re flirting or messing about, and another word, Pragma for a deeper, more mature love. One that’s developed over time between a committed couple. It’s the perfect out, this way you can let someone know that you like them a lot, but within a very specific context, so you’re not locked too far into it.

It’s not often I turn to religion, but I think in this case, Benedictine Sister, Catherine Wybourne, may have said it best, ‘Love is more easily experienced, than defined.’ I think I’m going to stick with the nun on this one, and make a habit of feeling it rather than revealing it.



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