What it means to say ‘I love you’ online

ilu. srsly. 


Molly McHugh


Published Feb 14, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 6:18 pm CDT

So we know there are lots of ways to laugh online, and to say goodbye. But in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, what about “I love you”? Here are 20 ways to do the deed, and what they say about you. 

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1. ilu: I’m in a hurry, and I might not even mean it, but there it is. You brought this on yourself.

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2. <3: I just discovered emoticons.

3. : I just discovered emoji. 

4. oh you: I’m completely in love with you but will never admit it unless you say it first.

5. luv u: I’m in middle school. My screenname is QTpiegrly996.

6. Lerve you: I’m on Reddit a lot.

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7. Lurve you: I’m still on Reddit a lot.

8. RT/fave (insert anything you tweet here): I’m passive aggressively showing you I agree with any crazy piece of nonsense you say, and therefore I obviously love you. 

9. loves you: I enjoy brunch, IKEA, and girls/guys nights out.

10. loves ya: See the above, plus I frequently use finger guns and/or air kisses. (And I probably love nothing other than myself.)

11. kisses!: I have a very small dog and it is the only thing I truly love.

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12. love you bitch: We are secretly competative best friends. 

13. heart you/<3 you: You said you love me, and I might love you, but I don’t really know, so using this Internet phrase or emoticon pairing let’s me buy a little time while I make up my mind. 

14. Love you: We are in a relationship, and I’m probably going to see you in the near future; this is my standard chat/text sign off when we speak.

15. LOVE YOU: We are in a relationship, and I may or may not see you soon. The emphasis via caps means I’m reinforcing this because we’re either in a long distance relationship or fighting. I cannot contain my love at the moment. 

16. LOVE YOU!: I really love you, to the point that you’re feeling suffocated. I post this publicly as often as possible. 

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17. I love you: We are legit in love, unless this is the first time I’ve made this avowal. Then its Internet origins void it. 

18. looooooooooooooooove yooooooooooooooou: You are the first person I’ve ever said “I love you” to, and I say it frequently. We’re probably going to break up soon, especially because this is how I say it in real life too. 

19. XoXo: I’m your mom and I haven’t figure out Facebook Chat yet; I write really long, email-length messages with sign-offs like this. 

20. luv u 2: Either I’m in middle school and replying to you or I really love U2. 

Photo via GypsyGen

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*First Published: Feb 14, 2014, 11:30 am CST