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The L Word

4 years ago by

The L Word

“There’s a difference between like and love. Because I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack.”
“But I love my Skechers.”
“That’s because you don’t have a Prada backpack.”

Who can forget this iconic exchange between Bianca and Chastity in 90s teen movie classic 10 Things I Hate About You? (If you haven’t seen it, or can’t remember it, please stop reading now, quit your job and go home and watch it. You’ll thank me later. Well, maybe not for the quitting your job part.)

I know I’m that nerdy person who is obsessed by the quirks of language (see my piece on computer speak), but arriving in Los Angeles for the first time I’ve already noticed something new that I hadn’t been aware of living in New York. Everyone here is in love!

Or at least they seem to say they are.

In LA, people say they love everything. Talking about a person? “Ohmigodiloveher.” A cafe? “Yea I love that place!” Someone’s shirt? “Ohmigodiloveit!” In a way it’s nice; people are overwhelmingly positive and it can be infectious. Sunny place, sunny vibes.

Nevertheless, love, like hate, is a strong word. And much like some of our favorite expletives, using strong words too often can make them lose their potency. If you say you love everything, then how can you tell when you truly love something? If there’s no sliding scale, then surely that just means you feel the same about everything, right? Which seems more like apathy than true love.

What do you think? Do people use the word love too much? Where’s the distinction between like and love if you love both your sketchers, AND your Prada backpack?

Written by Georgia Graham


Add yours
  • Hahaha this is sooo Californian! Love it though ;) I think it makes any social interaction seem much more positive and enhances everyone’s well being.
    It may be exaggerated, or sometimes no sincere, but it is much more pleasant to hear than the typical French complaint.
    I feel San Francisco is sunnier than Paris, and this is not only because of the weather!

  • YES! The Valley girls..They LOVE everything and they are OBSESSED very frequently..lol

  • Welcome to Cali! As a former New Yorker of 10 years I completely get it, and you’re right…there should be an in between like and love. But, you’ll see…you’re gonna love it here. Like, love love.


  • Gabrielle November, 22 2016, 1:52 / Reply

    Yes! I think people overuse the word ‘amazing’ too! Get more creative with your words :)

  • I am guilty of overusing love, because online the word “like” can sound like damning with faint praise. “I like this” too often seems to imply “Nice try, but could be better.” Even if that isn’t what you mean at all, that you really do like it, a lot, even.
    And have you read the latest language studies about periods? They have come to express anger.

  • Cool observation of language use there, Studio :-)

    “Love”: it seems we now confuse with “love”, “like”, “real like”, “am obsessed with” (as opposed to truly obsessed), and “want to have”, “having a passion for (a job/hobby/project”, and “gee, that feels really, really, really good”.

    And we forget that “love” is that ol’ cliché of, “giving and forgiving”, “being patient and unconditional in – and expecting nothing in return of – our outpouring of protection and affection of another human being/animal/life form/job/hobby/project”. “Love” implies to me, perseverance against all odds; it implies courage and creativity and even knowing when to stop something, too. If this is so, then, “yes”: I agree with you above that it’s silly to use “love” as often and as loosely as we do.

    Even “obsessed”: that means we are unrelentingly held prisoner by one idea, unable to shake ourselves of that idea easily. And really, how often odes that really happen to us? These “obsessions’ are again coined as such, simply because they are – at the time – such an intense feeling… but do we have that intense feeling non-stop? Unlikely: so, that “obsession” is really more of a “fad”.

    I hear myself sometimes say to staff at shops, “wow, I love that dress” – when what I really mean is, “wow, I really want to have that dress”. Or, I say, “gee, I love today’s weather”, when what I really mean is, “God, I can feel my endorphins rushing about in my body and my brain unwinding rapidly when I lie out in the sun on the grass”.

    It’s almost like any intensity of feeling that we have, which is not born of dislike, or hatred, we automatically coin as, “love”. And perhaps we should not. Maybe we need to re-learn that the intensity of feeling alone does not qualify that feeling to be called, “love”, or “hatred”. Perhaps we all need to go back to that great whacking book of words, also known as, “the dictionary”, to read what “love” is said to mean.

    Then, we can experience and take apart the reason for our intense like/yearning/passion/desire/appreciation for an object, or person, and see if it is “love” we have for that item/person/idea, or if it is actually one of the other aforementioned experiences we are actually undergoing.

    Most of all, “love” to me, is that intangible and almost inexplicable sense of spiritual and physical up-liftment, which bounces back at us – unbidden – giving us incredible strength, moving us to tears, frustration, joy, wonder, puzzlement – at the very instant we in which choose we “love/support/encourage/nourish” that other person, or “thing”. A dress, a hairstyle, a pair of shoes – that certainly doesn’t instil any “love” in me: and if it does, then it’s time for me to get out more!

  • I will never forget when I came back to live in Norway after spending my whole childhood in America and I told some new friends how much I really loved my teacher from High School. They looked at me with weird faces and asked me if he was married. I thought that was strange and answered -yes, he is. They looked at each other and said- Oh my God, that is not good. So, that day I learned the lesson that when you tell someone in Norway that you “ELSKER” (love) them/something, then you REALLY LOVE THEM/HER/HIM/THAT!! So, I went over to using “like” to most things and people because it avoided conflicts or misunderstandings- until it was true LOVE. My point- words like LOVE have different meanings in different languages, cultures and even groups like friends. So interesting!
    Thanks for your post- it was food for thought and reminded me of my experience!

  • English is a foreign language for me, so maybe I feel it a bit differently, I guess. I use the word “love” a lot in English. “Like” just seems not strong enough. Maybe it’s due to the Facebook? We “like” almost everything…

    In my native tongue, the Estonian language, “love” is a very strong word, I’d say. We use it much less or hardly ever. :)


  • I was having this very talk with my husband recently and I asked him how he would describe something that truly was “amazing.” His reply cracked me up-“f*****g amazing”

  • I totally agree words like love are used too much, but then I’m European and a non native English speaker. Actually the overdosis of ‘amazing’ and ‘love’ made me stop listening to the podcasts. Especially the ones with famous persons feel so uncritical with everything that is ‘ just amazing’ . As a European I just cant relate to that. So I stopped listening but won’t stop reading the blog!

  • Bah non, moi je suis une cynique parisienne, je déteste tout ! ah ah (ici aussi vous adorez tout, non ?) :-)

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