Terence Blacker: Must love be all around?

When Al and Tipper Gore snogged on a public platform, divorce lawyers started licking their lips.

Share
Related Topics

I so so love you. With five unlikely little words, uttered within seconds of being elected, the new leader of the Labour Party showed the world that he was a sympathetic kind of guy who was prepared to let his feelings show, whether he felt them or not. Not so long ago, this kind of declaration – particularly to a brother – would have set alarm bells ringing but, in 21st-century, loved-up Britain, we are altogether more sophisticated about the world of the heart. We know where emotional exhibitionism ends and true feeling begins. We have learned the "10 Golden Rules of Modern Love".

1. The more someone declares love for an individual from a public platform, the less it means. Invariably, the "I love you" is an expression of some kind of guilt or is a marketing exercise. The fraternal tribute of Ed Miliband was as genuine as Bill Clinton declaring his love for Hillary during Monicagate. The hope in both cases is that a massive love bomb of nuclear proportions will obliterate any trace of bad behaviour. The secondary subtext to these pronouncements is often to remind the audience that the speaker has a warm and giving heart. Only rarely (Gordon Brown's references to his wife Sarah, for example) do they ring true.

2. What grammarians call "a repeat-intensifier" – for example, "I so so love you" or "I really really really love you" – has the paradoxical effect of lessening the sentence's sincerity. In terms of sense and rhythm, there is nothing that anyone can do to make the most famous three-word sentence in the English language more heartfelt or convincing than it already is. "I love you" can never be more than "I love you". Those who try to extend it through repetition are often trying to cover up a lack of true feeling.

3. Public displays of love are always suspect. When Al and Tipper Gore snogged on a public platform, divorce lawyers started licking their lips. It was when Tom Cruise leapt up and down on Oprah Winfrey's sofa, declaring his adoration of Katie Holmes, that world experts on love began questioning their marriage.

4. For the same reason, it is always a bad sign when someone expresses lifelong love in the form of a tattoo, however beautifully drawn. When he fell in love with Katie Price, Peter Andre told the world the words "I love Katie" had been emblazoned on one finger. The tattoo has recently been removed.

5. The words "I love you" said before or during sex are meaningless – or, rather, they mean something entirely different from what they actually say. When uttered in a post-coital moment, they are marginally more significant, although they are quite often used when a simple "thank you very much" would have sufficed.

6. It is the declarations of love, delivered without a drum-roll, which matter. The relatively new habit of ending telephone conversations with "lots of love" or, when appropriate, "love you" has made the world a slightly friendlier place, expressing an easy, everyday affection which may well matter more than a great romance.

7. When someone expresses his or her love for a wife or lover while surrounded by other people, something faintly whiffy – a complicated domestic game – is afoot. It is bad form and should be slapped down by other guests.

8. When family members start declaring their deep affection for one another in front of outsiders, an act of unsubtle boastfulness is taking place.

9. When a husband or wife starts repeating the words "I love you" with the regularity and sincerity of a cuckoo clock, he or she is almost certainly having an affair. Since the dawn of romance, the confusion between expressing love and feeling it has been exploited by those behaving badly.

10. Sometimes, particularly in these islands, the surest and most reliable way of expressing love is by keeping quiet, by using a look or a gesture, and leaving those increasingly shop-soiled words "I love you" to politicians and celebrities.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chef de Partie

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This award winning conference venues provider...

Recruitment Genius: Admin Assistant

£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Mechanic / Plant Fitter

£24000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Lancashire based engineeri...

Recruitment Genius: Service Advisor

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Hollywood: Stop trying to make Superman cool. The world needs a boy scout in blue

Matthew Daly
A man enjoys the  

If you really want to legalise cannabis, then why on earth would you go and get high in a park?

Peter Reynolds
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders