Love may be a very short 4-letter word, but it comes packed with meaning.
The tricky thing about the word love is that it can mean different things in different contexts. And this is why a writer needs to establish this context before any one character starts making any declaration of love.
In this article, we’ll be discussing several forms of love, along with different ways of expressing it in words. Here goes…
Romantic love has several components to it. There are those who believe it can be instant “love at first sight” and those that see it as something that develops and strengthens over time.
An initial attraction may begin with liking, noticing something about someone that’s attractive, whether it’s their aesthetic, their aura or vibes, or their personality.
The way they begin to feel around one another will motivate them to spend more time in each other’s company.
And each time the pair meet, this attraction can grow, and they will begin to hold each other in higher and higher esteem.
Quite often, it’s a case of “opposites attract”, and this often comes down to one person admiring personality traits in the other that they really like, and this is more keenly felt when it’s traits they don’t believe they have themselves.
And of course, this works two ways.
But while the beginning of a romantic relationship is often the more exciting part, there are things to look forward to in later stages as well.
The intimacy that two souls can develop can go well beyond the physical. Discussion between the pair establishes trust, and they may feel that they can trust one another with their biggest secrets.
And while this can still be considered romantic love, it has a very different feel to it than it would have done in the earlier days.
Given the varying nature of this type of love, it stands to reason that there are different ways to describe it in writing.
Here follows a brief list of phrases that your character may wish to use to describe romantic love:
- I love you
- I adore you
- I can’t stop thinking about you
- I love everything about you
- I’m completely infatuated with you
- I’m completely smitten
- I’m enamored with you
- I’m crazy about you
- I’m yours
- I can’t get enough of you
- You mean everything to me
- You are my everything
- I’m addicted to you
But the key thing here is the addition of all the little things in the lead up to any of these declarations. And this is where the “Show, don’t tell” rule comes into play…
Writers are encouraged to depict emotions without necessarily having the characters simply stating how they feel.
With regard to romantic love for instance, you may write phrases such as “my heart skipped a beat”, “my heart began racing” “She gave him a look of pure love”, “they walked hand in hand”, and so on.
Some writers find physical desire easier to write, while others can find it cringy. But it’s certainly fair to say that in the real world, many relationships start with lust before becoming something deeper and more sustained.
The way to describe physical desire and intimacy in your writing is to write whatever your character may be feeling in the scene.
You could use phrases such as:
- He flashed her flirty smile
- At that moment, all she wanted was him
- He leaned toward her and stole a kiss
- He held her closer to him
- She just wanted to breathe him in
- He didn’t ever want to let her go
- He stroked her cheek tenderly
- She pulled him close
- He craved her, and she him
- She never wanted someone so much
These phrases are very much PG, but of course, if your story requires it, or if you wish to write it, you can describe sexual intimacy in a more graphic way.
Love For A Family Member, Close Friend Or Pet
But not all love is romantic or physical in nature. Take for instance the love we feel toward our family members, pets, and friends.
Such love typically features caring, trust, companionship. Caring for someone is not the same thing as desiring them, admiring them, or needing them.
Over and above everything else, you want them to be ok. You want them to be at peace and to be happy.
The easiest way to portray this in writing is to have one character check in on the other, asking if they are OK if they seem upset. Or even if they don’t. Or have them say “Hey, don’t cry”
Alternatively, you could use physical gestures, such as “She put her arm around him” or “He lifted her face to him to look her in the eye”.
When it comes to love for a parent, this is typically accompanied by desire for respect and approval.
Which is quite different from love for a child, which is a roller coaster of a ride. When they’re happy, you’re delirious, and when they’re sad, you’d move heaven and earth to want to make them feel better.
Your character could say they’d do anything for the other person, or that they’re prepared to do anything to right any wrongs done against them, or that they’d stand up to whoever is upsetting them and put them in their place, or go to jail or court for them.
And when it’s a pet that’s suffering, you’d happily pay whatever the veterinarian asks to heal them.
And that’s a wrap for now. How to describe love in writing depends very much on the context, how the characters know each other, how close they are, the nature of their love, and its intensity.
And as mentioned earlier, it’s often better to use the “Show, don’t tell” rule in creative writing. The characters’ actions can often speak louder than their words.
Allow the characters to be invested in one another, just as you want the reader to be invested in the characters’ story.