When my younger brother calls, he always ends with “love-you-bye.” It sounds routine and obligatory, even though I’m confident that he does love me. 

But this week when he called, we talked about many issues in his life; when we were about to hang up, he said, “I love you!” with such feeling that it made up for all the “love-you-byes” that are automatic. 

When I talk to my other brother (older, but younger than I am), we don’t always end the call with “love you,” so when we do it seems more heartfelt. 

I don’t mean to say that routinely ending calls with “love you” is a bad thing because it’s not. There are several people I say that to before we hang up. It’s great, as long as you remember who you are talking to. 

When my older brother was out of town, he got a cell call from a neighbor who didn’t realize he was not at home. As he concluded the conversation, he automatically said “love you” to this person he only knew superficially. Well, now they may become very close! 

Once my mother,  then in her seventies, dealt with a man who kept making unwelcome advances toward her. He called about a business situation and as they concluded, she said, “Love you! Bye!” I walked in the room and saw her stricken face.

“I just said ‘love you’ to him!” she said. “Oh, no! Now what will he think?”

“Well,” I answered, “you’ll need to be on guard even more now! You left the door wide open.”

Have you ever accidentally said “love you”? Were there repercussions?

With our mother on her 85th birthday





  1. Drue Wright

    I always end conversations with my children and other loved one with, “I love you.” I mean it with all my heart and always want that to be the last thing they hear me tell them. I was once told by a member of the extended family that she no longer wanted me to say that to her or to hug her since she felt it was just routine. It was very hard to comply, but I did.

    Your blog brought this to mind. A few years back Doyal and I had a meal at our local Bob Evans. He needed change for a tip so asked me to stay at the table while he paid the bill and got money back for the tip. When he came back to the table he said, “Do you know what the cashier said to me?” Of course I didn’t. He said, “She said, ‘I love you. Bye’.” I was pretty sure she had not said that so as we were leaving I asked, “Can you tell me what you said to my husband. I think he misunderstood.” She replied, “I told him I loved his tie.” I laughed and told her why I asked and the three of us have had many laughs over it.

    • Lanita Boyd

      I love this story, Drue! I can picture Doyal’s confusion at what he thought he heard.

      I think you bring up a good point about the person who asked you not to hug her or say “I love you.” Even when it seems perfunctory, I think we must look at the person saying it and realize, as you say, that they mean it with all their hearts.

  2. My stepmother and stepsister told me years ago that they thought ending phone conversations with “I love you,” seemed fake. I decided to ignore them. Now, all these years later, my stepmother almost always tells me she loves me on the phone…first!

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