Everyone Says I Love You: When Did "Love" Become Mandatory?

It's kinda like hugging: once reserved for nearest and dearest, throwing around a casual "love" at the end of an email or letter has become standard practice. Is this a problem?

The Daily Mail's Patricia Carswell certainly thinks so, opining that "the phrase 'I love you' is now so widely used that we are in danger of making it completely meaningless....Before long, it is just a nice phrase to express a nice feeling."

Optimists might argue the opposite: that, in a new free-and-easy world, love just really is all around. In any event, it's hard to get worked up over - it's not like it's ever insulting - but for those of us who don't toss "love" around, it can make for awkwardness. I'm not even talking about the drama of the romantic L-word; rather, when a distant relative or friend signs off on the phone with a breezy "I love you" and there's a moment of peer pressure. Sometimes taking the "I" out works - "Love you" or better yet, "love ya" (which is how Mariah Carey autographed, at least, the picture she gave to Lunch: The Lobster Roll in Montauk) has a more casual air, somehow. "You too," sounds kind of grudging, or like you're in a room surrounded by judgmental friends and are embarrassed, but is arguably better than nothing.

Letters are easier. Years ago, I settled on "As ever" as my sign-off, and have never looked back. All-purpose, dignified and affectionate, I think it comes close to being a perfect solution. Of course, you can't use it; it's mine. Well, mine and the college professor I stole it from after I saw that was how he signed off on the invitations to his regular open-houses.

Anyway, like I said, it's hard to get worked up, unless you enjoy predicting societal ruin, in which case, go to town. But what do you think? Has love lost its punch? Is it overused? Or is it just an indication of a nice general softening? Tell the truth: love, after all, means never having to say you're sorry.

Don't Say You Love Me When You Don't
[Daily Mail]