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Meaning of “I love you” around the world

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How one person perceives love can be completely different from another person based on how they grew up. Love can mean responsibility and seriousness in places like Russia. It can mean selflessness and enlightenment in places like Japan. In Finland, love can be so significant that it’s only heard once in a lifetime. But what if someone grew up in more than one place? Their view of love is instantly broadened and changed. However, there is one thing that will always remain the same in every culture.

In a study a Finnish female tango singer speaks of love with a hint of embarrassment in her voice. Why is she embarrassed? She’s embarrassed because for her the phrase for I love you in Finnish, “mina rakastan sinua”, could be said only once in a lifetime, and it would be perfectly normal. “Say you have been married for 20 years; perhaps your spouse is on her death-bed…” This, Arja Koriseva says, is one of the only times she can imagine using the phrase. This is her culture. This is what she knows about love.

But love is more than just a phrase or a word that you might tell someone, and the feeling is the same no matter where you are in the world. A study by Hatfield and Rapson showed that when students were asked if they were in love, 59% of Americans, 67% of Russians and 53% of Japanese said they were at that given time. This evidence goes to show that even though places such as Finland and Russia can have a more intense view on love, they can relate to countries such as Japan and America in the sense that the feeling remains the same. No matter where you come from or how you may have experienced love, the feeling of love will always feel the same.

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