Expressing love is an important gesture in any relationship. It’s because love helps nurture, grow, and reinforce intimate human bonding. Everyone exhibits love and their inner emotions differently, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” way for us to convey this feeling.

One person’s way to display love could be wildly different from another. Some people prefer verbal, some non-verbal, and it can also be presented as subtle gesture or something on a grandiose scale.

But in general, Chinese and Asians are quite reluctant to express affection openly. Actually, to put it plainly, we are lousy at showing love with words. A lack of affectionate expression is a common thing between husbands and wives in this part of the world; parents, children, and other family members are no exception.

I was close to my dad, but I find it hard to recall a time he said he loved me. I told him once that I loved him on his birthday, but he just nodded. After that, I knew it would be best not to utter those words again to spare each other the awkwardness.

Saying “I love you” is an important way to show our affection towards others. It’s also a way to say we care about them and let them know how much they mean to us. But in this social media age, this tender and yet deep emotion is often excessively overexposed in the form of seemingly meaningless emojis. In other words, saying “I love you” has sometimes been rendered as insignificant as saying “I love ice cream”.

So, can the old-school believers bring back the true meaning of “I love you”?

Dr Paul Wong Wai-ching, associate professor of the department of social work and social administration at the University of Hong Kong, agrees that those three simple words certainly make people feel good and help bond all kinds of relationships. This is because expressing feelings is crucial to the human experience and to fostering important relationships with our family, friends, and our other half.