I Love You~ The three most powerful words in the English language. And how cleverly Jane Austen used them.

In Darcy’s first botched proposal:

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Our darling Darcy says I love you. He may not set the words in the proper framework, but he gets them out.

In Darcy’s second proposal:

“My affections and wishes are unchanged.” Note that the wordsI Love You are almost too painful for him to repeat. Instead Jane Austen describes his actions ~ he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do.


I have a problem with the way the words I Love You have been mistreated. Current lazy-speak has cast them onto the slang heap with phrases like “I’m fine, thank you” being converted to “same old, same old” or worse yet, “meh,” the lazy way of stating a negative opinion. (Whoever brought “meh” to the table, please take it back!)

Imagine if Darcy had popped in on Elizabeth, diddled about, and then said “Love ‘Ya!”

And Elizabeth responded with “Meh!”

Barump-bump! That’s all folks!

The importance of the phrase I love you is now watered down for a generation of children. Permanently blended with good-bye, Love Ya has become an over-worked slogan dangling somewhere between how are you and take care. LoveYaBye.  Err…


Anecdote from my personal archives

My son-in-law was a business traveler, and called home from his road trips. Each call ended with LoveYa, and then a pregnant pause. “Love you, too,” my daughter would dutifully respond. Ashley, then a toddler, would repeat the phrase, blow a kiss and hang up. It was an empty benediction.

Beastly cell phones litter our ear-scape. They force us to overhear the intimate details of conversations about and to folks we’ll never meet.  At the conclusion of most strangers’ speed-speak, over the roar of traffic or the clang of a cash register, comes that strange new word… LoveYaBye.

Business now allows my son-in-law to stay in town, but still he relies on his mantra. “LoveYa,” he says as he dashes to the store for whatnots and a quart of milk. The family now numbers four. Ashley and her little sister Bailey chant in unison, “LoveYa, too.” The slogan hangs in the air, impotent.

Recent events have caused us to carry the thought that any goodbye might be our last goodbye, but must we remind our children of this every time we exit? An occasional snuggled I Love You is a thousand times better than a single drive-by LoveYa.

As my daughter was growing, I frequently (but not too frequently) told her I loved her. These powerful words came at unexpected times and were not a prayer for safekeeping, nor were they my final words of record. I said them because I couldn’t contain them in my heart without bursting.

On the last evening of one of my weekend visits to my daughter’s family, I was in the living room cradling three-year-old Bailey who had fallen asleep in my arms. My son-in-law’s voice trailed down the hall.

“Good night, Ashley. LoveYa.” He began the ritual.

“Good night,” she responded.

“You didn’t say I love you,” he said.

No response.

“Why didn’t you say I love you?” he persisted.

Still no response.

“Don’t you love me?” Insecurity thickened his speech. Obsessive, he repeated, “LoveYa.”

“Uh huh,” Ashley said.

“Ashley, why won’t you say I love you? You hardly say it anymore.”

“I’m bored with it,” she said.

“You’re bored with saying I love you?” He faltered.

Eight-years-old, Ashley had run out of I Love You’s.

I hesitate mentioning it to my daughter for I would have to dissect my own feelings about the word. Did I use it too much or too little when she was a child? Guilt trip. I spent the night arguing with myself, painfully aware of the slow leak in the guest bed/inflatable mattress. To speak or not to speak? I said nothing.

The next morning still struggling with how to help Ashley cope with the word, I dropped her off at school. Driving Ashley to school was always a special time for us, a way we said goodbye after our fun weekend together. My darling granddaughter sat proudly next to me, buckled and beaming. I didn’t want to start a dialogue I couldn’t finish in ten minutes, but what if I never got to explain about the love word?

My mind scrambled as I eased my car into the drop-off line. I felt helpless. No time left and so much to say. Ashley leaned over her Princess backpack to kiss me. “I love you, so much,” I whispered in her little pink ear.

She popped out of my car and marched smartly to the school door. A tear slipped down my check… standard for me. My heart ached as I watched my grownup little granddaughter who was bored with saying I love you. And then at the very last minute, she turned back to me, and with her precious little fingers signed, I Love You.

 I love you all.

Barbara Silkstone







12 Responses to LoveYa!

  1. I agree with this completely as I had observed the same thing. My husband has never used this as a sign-off when he speaks with me so when he does say it, it certainly does signify something.

  2. I love that part in P+P! I write U Love you in cards , I say it before I leave the house all the time! Adorable story about your granddaughter.

  3. Dear Barbara, you sweet lady, you made me cry. My daughter and I still say I love you or Love you and mean it. She’s on the west coast, and I’m in Texas and we speak every day. She also does my marketing and book covers for me as well. I would love to be able to hug her every day but talking with her and telling her I love her each day helps. And I love this post. It sums everything up nicely. And I’m with you. I hate the expression ‘meh!’ It’s full of contempt and an expression of disdain and ‘I don’t care for you’ attitude. And I love you, lovely lady, for your caring ways, your humor and your sweetness. <3

  4. I understand where you’re coming from, but I guess I don’t understand how ‘I love you’ could ever be overused. I only say it to people I really feel love for of course, but it’s such a constant to me and my family.

    As I child my mother and I used to play a game to see who would be the last to say I love you, love you more, no I love you more… before we had to leave for work and school. We used to play-fight to be the last one to say it to my dad before he left the house and since he died young, I’ve taken comfort in the fact that one of the last things I ever said to him was ‘I love you’ and gave a kiss on the cheek.

    Maybe my family ‘overuses’ the words, but we’ve never doubted how we feel for each other or had cause to regret not saying it.

    • Hi Altaira, How lovely to say “I love you” and mean it. The games you played with your mom sound so sweet and true. It is the ruination of those three words that I mourn. They have been smashed together to form a single slogan, LoveYa!. Using this newish phrase as a way of saying goodbye or goodnight, dilutes the meaning. The three words are special and should be used in a special way. We are slowly destroying our beautiful language with word shortcuts.

      • I can’t say we never shorten it ourselves to “love you, bye!” as we’re running out the door, but I’ve never found it lessens those words. I guess it just depends on context and the meaning each person subscribes to it.

  5. So true Barbara. Overused sentence nowadays. Definitely right, I guess that’s what draws P & P , more emotion and actions than words.

    • Exactly! Three perfect words…I Love You…now squished down into one catchall phrase..”LoveYa” which carries no feeling, no emotion. It has become a sign off phrase. A mere slogan.

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