Я тебя люблю — to say or not to say

by Tanya  

When talking about emotional life, there are differences in how Russians and Americans express emotions. Upon arrival into the US, it was striking just how often people used the phrase “I love you”, even in a casual phone conversation. I thought, "Wow, people here are capable of experiencing such intense emotional lives; we say it seldom in our country, so, we lag emotionally behind".
After living a while in the US though, it became obvious that saying this phrase so often does not imply wider (or deeper) range of emotions that people actually experience. I was told by native English speakers that they use "I love you" phrase as a part of cultural traditional politeness rituals rather then in a sense describing their trully experienced emotions. Well, that makes sense.

In Russia, on the contrary, we don't talk much about deep emotions; when we feel them, we let it come forward through actions rather than through words (показать любовь на делах, а не на словах). I think in our culture there is an unspoken consensus about the power of silence (or silent action), sort of like “Silence (or actions) speaks louder than words”.

Известный русский поэт Ф. И. Тютчев изрёк однажды сакраментальную, часто цитируемую и ставшую впоследствии знаменитой фразу: «Мысль изречённая есть ложь». The famous Russian poet F. I. Tyutchev once uttered a sacramental phrase which later became famous and is often cited: “A thought expressed in words is a lie.”

That seems to capture the national sentiment about pouring into words our deep emotions.
So, in the light of said above (в свете вышесказанного), one can sum it up like this: if you fall in love in the US, say "I love you" to your beloved, the more often the better! :D However, if you fall in love with a Russian, that would not be so necessary. Instead, be ready to act in a loving fashion and to demonstrate your love not with words but with deeds! Like, get her the moon from the sky if she asks for it, instead of just saying "Я люблю тебя"!!

1 comment

Comment from: Alex [Visitor]

It’s even more so in Asian cultures.

02/16/10 @ 23:50

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