Love isn’t all you need (sorry John Lennon). Food, shelter, and Netflix also come to mind. But nearly everyone agrees that love feels amazing and should be celebrated.
If your significant other is from a Spanish speaking country, you may have already considered studying some Spanish yourself. Learning your partner’s mother tongue is probably the best gift someone can give. It is not only a big commitment that shows how deeply you care; it will also help you understand his or her worldview as well as improve your communication skills. There are plenty of free online Spanish courses and lessons to help you start this long but fulfilling journey!
If you are not quite ready for that kind of commitment, or if you’re still looking for your “Latin lover”, it’s still helpful to learn a few useful phrases to express your feelings in Spanish. But be careful, there are some important technicalities that may become deal breakers. Don’t get lost in translation!
Read this article and learn the difference between “te quiero” and “te amo” and split the hairs in order to find the perfect words to describe your feelings.
Can love be measured? Of course, it can!
Love can have as many shapes as people in the world, but In Spanish, we organize it into four basic levels.
Me gustas – I like you
You might say this to someone that you have met recently, or that you are getting close to.
“Me gustas” means that you like that person and you would like to know him or her further. To avoid awkward situations, please keep in mind that in Spanish it always has a romantic or sexual connotation.
If you want to say that you like someone in a friends-only way, you would choose a different phrasing, such as “me caes bien” (I like you) or “eres simpatico/a” (You are nice).
Te quiero – I love you
Once you already got to know someone and you start feeling like you care, you may dare to say “te quiero”, which means I love you.
“I love you” has two shades of meaning, and “te quiero”, even if it carries strong emotional weight, it still a relatively safe word to use. Let’s just say that you aren’t going “all-in” with this one.
Unlike “me gustas”, it is not exclusively romantic, so you can say this to friends, family, as well as romantic partners.
Te adoro – I adore you
The verb “adorar” means to adore or to worship and, of course, it is equivalent to “I adore you”. It means that your significant other is very precious to you. When you feel very proud or you admire your partner, you may say this.
It can be used for friends and family, but only if you are very close.
Te amo – I love you
This is the real deal. When you say this you are probably in the moon, also vulnerable and exposed, but so in love that it is worth the risk.
“Te amo” also translates as “I love you” and must be used wisely. It is the purest of these four words.
My advice: Don’t go around throwing this spell on people because its deep and spiritual meaning can easily be devalued and turned into empty words. You won’t say this to someone you’ve just met. Not even after a few days. I don’t mean to tell you that your love needs a specific amount of time to flourish, but I don’t want you to get ahead of yourself and say something that you don’t mean. To “Amar” someone is a big deal.
I’ve known people that have fall in love after a few hours and other people that haven’t after many years of relationship. To each his own. But it is safe to state that “amar” is rare, it doesn’t happen each time you meet someone, and it is a lovely feeling to share when it is true.
Aside from knowing how to say “I love you” in Spanish, there are plenty of other romantic phrases. Each context needs its specifics, and you need to be prepared for new feelings beyond the basics. That’s why we’ll explore some common phrases that lovebirds should have handy.
La pasé muy bien – I had a good time
No matter if it was the first date or if you have been married for a long time, it is always nice to let your loved one know that you enjoy your time together.
Whether it’s by texting or whispering in their ear, this Valentine Day, after dinner, before falling asleep, say “la pasé muy bien esta noche” (I had a great time tonight) for a perfect end to the night.
Te deseo – I want you / I desire you
This phrase, released at the right moment, can heat things up in a flash. After the perfect night out, light some candles, put some music on and whisper these two words. They have magical powers.
Me gustaría volver a verte – I’d like to see you again
That person you just met at the coffee shop, party or, why not, bus stop has blown your mind? Don’t hesitate to seize the moment!
Many people would just go on whatever dating app is on fashion, hoping to run into that person again and start a conversation. But if you are the old-fashioned, brave type wandering in a Spanish speaking country, take a deep breath and before leaving, let it out: “Me gustaría volver a verte”.
There is nothing as sexy as courage.
No puedo parar de pensar en ti – I can’t stop thinking of you
Sometimes love can be all consuming. You may find yourself randomly thinking of that special other when you wake up, while you are walking to the office or watching bad TV.
When you start falling in love with someone it can be quite the distraction. In time, this feeling will give way to something more intermittent, but meanwhile, try to enjoy it!
¿Quieres pasar? – Do you want to come in?
After a fun night out you may feel like relaxing in a more intimate environment. And your home may be the perfect place for that. But this one is a high risk maneuver; if you misunderstand the other person’s signs, saying this might be awkward and even rude. But if you feel that the mood is right, ask him or her “¿quieres pasar?”.
Me estoy enamorando de ti – I’m falling in love with you
You may have heard that mystery is the key to passion, but at some point, it becomes quite obvious to both of you what’s going on. The problem is, SOMEONE has to take the initiative and say how they feel. This is the perfect phrase for that precarious moment, a nice alternative to the straight up “Te amo”.
So buckle up, whatever happens next, it’ll be an emotional rollercoaster.
Lo siento – I’m sorry
Love isn’t all peaches and cream, and knowing how to say “I’m sorry” could be the most romantic gesture of all.
Occasional disagreement is a symptom of a healthy relationship, so being able to acknowledge our mistakes is a skill that we should all nurture.
If you feel that you have done something wrong, or if you hurt your partner in any way, this may be a good moment to defuse tensions. So stop being stubborn and call your loved one to say “lo siento”.
Estoy loco/a por ti – I’m crazy for you
Sometimes love feels like madness. This phrase tends to be less metaphoric than one would expect. When we are in love we lose track of time, things that were important before seem less meaningful and tiny things may become extremely important.
If your world is upside down, tell your partner how much you love this amazing feeling.
Te extraño – I miss you
Sometimes lovers must be apart. Maybe your Spanish speaking partner is visiting family, studying or just traveling far from you. And even if you talk on a daily basis distance can be hard.
Telling someone that you miss them says a lot more than just the words. So say it and say it often!
Me haces muy feliz – You make me very happy
Do you smile like a fool when you think of your partner? Do you feel like your life is much better with him or her on it? This is a very nice and simple line: Nothing too fancy or poetic, just honest.
Eres espectacular – You are spectacular
You may have felt that chill that runs all over your body when your loved one has accomplished something that you admire or has done something nice and unexpected for you. If you are proud of the person that’s next to you let him or her know it.
Eres el amor de mi vida – You are the love of my life
If you enjoy being a little bit dramatic and believe in soulmates, this is the line for you. It is perfect for special occasions like Valentine’s Day or even wedding vows. Your partner will be flattered. But don’t use it too often or the words will lose their power and come off as cheesy. If you say it, you’d better mean it.
Okay, so not everyone has a special someone…yet. For those of you who are single and ready to mingle, here are a few one-liners that could land you a date!
Eres tan guapo/a que olvidé lo que iba a decir – You are so good-looking that I forgot what I was about to say
Show them that love can literally leave you speechless. This line is an unexpected compliment that’s guaranteed to surprise. Whether it works or not, nobody can say that you have no guts.
¿Crees en el amor a primera vista o tengo que pasar más veces? – Do you believe in love at first sight or I have to pass by you a few more times?
Here’s one for you self-proclaimed comedians. It is clever, harmless, and might just get a laugh out of the person of interest. It might come across as cheesy, but at least you’ll get a smile out of it.
He perdido mi número de teléfono, ¿me das el tuyo? – I’ve lost my phone number, may I have yours?
The silliness continues, this one might make the person laugh, or they might be rolling their eyes. To maximize chances of success, the line needs to be delivered with attitude: confident but not arrogant, funny but not goofy.
¿Te gustaría mostrarme la ciudad? – Would you like to show me the city around?
Why is this line so great? Because it is a win-win: pragmatically, as a tourist in a Spanish speaking country, you might get to see a city through a local’s eyes. Plus you might get to know each other and find out if you both feel the connection.
Sé que no nos conocemos, pero quería saludarte – I know we don’t know each other, but I wanted to say hi
This simple is refreshingly straightforward. It is honest and humble, and sometimes the most effective approach is also the most direct one.