British Men Versus American: Saying I Love You

the words I love you

As an English man in New York, I am often asked if I prefer New York or London, and I always find this such a complex question. I am lucky that I get to call New York my home and still spend a reasonable amount of time in London. Both cities have a great deal to offer and spending time between the two is a great luxury.

My personal situation aside, there are so many Anglo American differences, many have written books on the subject. One I particularly like is Anglo File.

One of the key differences, which I see in action on a daily basis, can be summarized as follows: 8-3-1. For those who are not familiar with this rather strange abbreviation, it means 8 letters 3 words one meaning, ‘I Love you’.

I am not sure of the history behind this, however it is almost impossible for an English man to say this very simple set of words.

Whilst I believe Americans always overuse these words I am always surprised at how the English manage in any relationship without using the phrase more often.


Few English families (to my knowledge) share these words on a regular basis. During my childhood I have no recollection of my mother or father saying they love me. Americans would find this tremendously strange, however I know my parents did and do love me deeply and don’t feel it needs to be confirmed every five minutes. On the other side of the Atlantic, American families seem to say it several times every day at times that to an English man seem completely unnecessary.


English friends rarely, if ever, confirm their love for each other. I don’t believe I have ever uttered the words to a friend (guy or girl). American friends say it so frequently when together. ‘I love you, but you should not be dating them’. ‘I love you, but you are too emotional’ etc.

In summary, the American approach is at one end of the scale and the English are at the other.

I am often reminded of the fact that words can be our most useful and most harmful asset. Words have the ability to be hugely offensive/damaging and also hugely reassuring/forgiving.

Over the history of the world, words (particularly considering the words used for a particular situation) have created relationships, started and ended wars and controlled our daily life and evolution.

Choose your words careful. Whilst we are focusing on the words ‘I Love you’ consideration of the 26 letters that gives us this power and choice for the way we communicate should be used and considered correctly.

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