“I love you” might be one of the most important combinations of three words in the English language. It’s the signal that a romantic relationship is serious, an indication of closeness for a sibling, parent, or child, and a constant refrain for pop songs.In Mandarin, “I love you” translates as “我爱你” (wǒ’ ài nǐ), but the way it’s used in China might be a little different. Why do Chinese people have such a version of saying these words? For a country that is known for being direct, it seems strange that they would shy away from this sort of expression. Some people believe it’s a cultural thing. “They are used to educating children with negative language,” says Xia Xueluan, a Sociologist from Peking University. Similarly, a psychology study on 18 college students in Beijing found that Chinese people may exercise more restraint when dealing with romantic feelings. A fMRI study revealed that Chinese people may have a conditioned response to romance based on years of tradition.
Usually, to express romantic feelings, Chinese people would say “我喜欢你” instead. Here are some words related to “love”:
我爱你（wǒ’ ài nǐ ）=“I love you”
我喜欢你 (wǒ xǐ huān nǐ) = “I like you.”
我想你（wǒ xiáng nǐ ）= “I miss you”
我希望和你交往 (wǒ xī wàng hé nǐ jiāo wǎng) = “I would like to have a date with you.”
恋人(liàn ren) = “sweetheart”
恋爱(liàn’ai) = “fall in love”
初恋(chū liàn ) = “first love”
爱人(ài ren ) = “lover”
情人(qíng ren) = “paramour”
爱情 (ài qíng) = “love between man and woman”
亲爱的(qīng’ài de) = “honey; darling”
天长地久(tiān cháng dì jiǔ) = “everlasting and unchanging”
热恋（rè liàn） = “be passionately in love”
What is popular in China right now is to use numbers in text messages. These numbers sound like specific Chinese words and are a form of chat used among younger generations. This is a more subtle way to tell someone your feelings.
520 (wǔ ér líng) = 我爱你 (wǒ ài nǐ) = “I love you”.
530 (wǔ sān líng) ＝ 我想你 (wǒ xiǎng nǐ) = “I miss you.”
770 (qī qī líng) = 亲亲你 (qīn qīn nǐ) = “Kiss you.”
880 (bā bā líng) = 抱抱你 (bào bào nǐ) = “Hug you.”
1314 (yī sān yī sì) = 一生一世 (yī shēng yīshì) = “Love you forever.”
1314 often combined with 520 so that it becomes 5201314=我爱你一生一世(wǒ ài nǐ yī shēng yī shì) means “I’ll love you forever”