Chinese Family Life

How to say I Love You in Chinese?

Our honeymoon
When a Chinese couple dates they often say Wo xihuan ni I like you, but the big word love isn’t used as much. I remember I used to lecture my husband (boyfriend at the time) that I’m not his friend so he shouldn’t just say like. Now he is very used to saying the three important words on a daily basis.

But in a Chinese family words of love aren’t heard in Wo ai ni I love you, but in other words completely.

Presenting Chinese – Western translations:

You don’t know how to do it, let me. Translation: I love you and want to help you.

Don’t move away from home, you will starve to death. Translation: I love you and want to be near to you.

Why you got such a bad score from the exam?! You need to study harder! Translation: I love you and want you to have a nice future.

Wear more clothes or you’ll catch a cold! Translation: I love and care about you.

A Chinese family member won’t say I love you directly, but often hide it between criticism, scolding or advice. I often get upset by the words I hear, but often thinking it through it translates into love. We just express it in different ways.

How does your Chinese family express love?


  • Zhao FU

    You are understanding exactly right! The point is that if say out “I love you’ too frequently, Chinese feel its value lost and also shy of saying that, such words are given very high value and only spoken seriously and only at some special moments… A deeper origin is probably because Chinese understand love from action, meaning you do something for the person you love, but saying love is not reliable or not serious


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    We don’t use I love you in Finnish as much as English speakers do, but definitely more than Chinese speakers. My husband is already used to it which is very nice, but sometimes I do need to translate his words when we are having a discussion. It’s very hard to get used to a new way of communiating isn’t it?


  • Nama Mama

    Completely agree with this. I’m glad I learned what they are really trying to say instead of just hearing criticisms all the time. Also I’ve trained my husband well, he’ll tell me he loves me, and often, because he knows that’s important to me from my cultural point of view.


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    It’s great when a couple can come to a compromise and learn a bit something new from each other, like saying I love you :)


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