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Leela: I love every living creature.
Fry: Even me?
Leela: As a friend.
A standard delaying or misleading tactic of Romantic Comedy
that depends on the vagueness of language.
In English we have love for deep romantic love ("I love you, Sandi") or deep platonic love
("I love you, man"
) or shallow love of foodstuffs
("God, I love pastrami"). There's also times where romantic affection occurs but is not as deep as love in which case "love" in considered deeply inappropriate so you have like
or the rather pubescent like
-like which is different from just "like". Confused? Well it carries onto other languages too; the French can be confused by copain
(or the plain, less emphatic form, suki
) is a popular word used in anime
for affection, but it can be very nebulous out of context.
The standard gag is to have a character say this, while the others are shocked at the directness. Or, if it's the person in love with them, near euphoria. This is followed by the original character mentioning all the other people they love
A variant: a character is thrilled to receive what appears to be something very special and personal (often a valentine or a Christmas present) from the person they have a crush on - only to learn that the entire cast got them.
One big problem in adaptations for other languages is the subjectivity in deciding which kind of affection is the proper one. (Incidently, aishiteru
is a much less ambiguous term.) In some cases this is played for humor, while in other cases the classy character is
denying the confession but feigning ignorance to avoid causing the other person embarrassment.
See also The Four Loves
. Compare The "I Love You" Stigma
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Anime & Manga
- D Gray Man: This happens in chapter 205, when Allen is leaving the Order because of his recent discovery that he is the 14th Noah, that the Order is perfectly willing to kill innocents and infect people with akuma cells to make more Exorcists and that an Apocryphos is among the people at the order, and then Lenalee catches up to him. Before passing through the gate to the Ark, he hugs her, dispels her doubts and says that he loves her... and everybody at the order, and that no matter what he is still an Exorcist. Cue massive amounts of Squee.
- Mai-HiME carries this out to its natural conclusion: due to her inexperience with the concept of suki, No Social Skills Mikoto wants to tie ribbons for just about everyone she knows at a place where according to local superstition doing so will attract the one you love to you.
- Mahou Tsukai Tai! also concludes with a depiction of this scene, with Sae bursting Takeo's bubble of delirious happiness.
- Hazumu in Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl consistently fails to get the hint that Asuta has a crush on her, and keeps reassuring him about what a good buddy he is.
- At one point in the Ah! My Goddess manga, Mara the demon possesses Keichii's sister Megumi and "confesses" her love to Belldandy. Mara's stunned when Bell says that she loves Megumi too... and Keichii, and Tamiya, and Ootaki, and her sisters...
- In Love Hina, Seta pulls this after Naru's crush for him is exposed. It's debatable if he is really that oblivious, or just wanted to let her down gently.
- Kimi ni Todoke has Sawako like this in default mode.
- The words, if not the actual intent, crops up in Mahoraba with a fair amount of frequency.
- The ending of Magic Knight Rayearth.
- Whenever Ataru from Urusei Yatsura says anything that implies that he loves Lum, he ruins the effect by saying that he loves all girls.
- Of course, being Ataru, he does mean it that way. He'll explain himself, if forced, but the explanation makes no damn sense to anyone but Ataru.
- Sure it does. Though it changes over the course of the series, by the end, it's Lum + Harem > Lum alone > Harem > One girl > Nothing.
- In Cardcaptor Sakura, after an exchange of this kind between Sakura and Tomoyo, the latter lampshades the trope by saying that "what you mean with like and what I mean with like are two very different things." Sakura fails to see the point.
- D.N.Angel's main character's name is actually "Daisuke Niwa". At one point, he has to be in two places at once, one of them involving one of the love-interests. He uses his pet bunny to create a doppleganger of himself, and sends it off to go be with her. The catch, the bunny can only find itself able to say "Daisuki." Hilarity ensues.
- Nagasarete Airantou has an interesting variation. When Mikoto tells Suzu that Ikuto would fall in love with Rin, Suzu says that he already loves Rin... and Suzu, and...
- In an Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians episode, Kan'u asks if Ryuubi does love her. Ryuubi says yes, which causes Kan'u to feel like she's in heaven... until Ryuubi continues that she likes the rest of the school members (Chouhi, Chou'un, Koumei, even Kouchuu)... which instantly petrifies Kan'u.
- The Zero In manga plays this one straight.
- Lampshaded in Lucky Star in the Valentine's Day episode. Tsukasa gives all the main characters home-made chocolate of outstanding quality. Konata then warns her not to give it to any guys or else they might get the wrong idea. Seeing as how the show takes place in an all-girls school it would likely be impossible for this to happen.
- Minoru Shiraishi attends school with them, and we see Kagami talking to a male classmate during their school trip. And Konata tells another nameless male student to fetch Tsukasa for her, after informing him that she's a senior. Just because they're background characters doesn't mean the boys at the school don't exist. Konata's fears were probably justified.
- Chiaki pulls this on Fujioka in Minami-ke, but not for the usual reasons. The "I love you" comment is completely random, the first thing that comes to mind to cover up something else she said, then she adds the "and everybody" part after realizing that's just as bad.
- In Angel Densetsu, Ikuno says this about Kitano when Ryoko asks her how she feels about him, then follows up by saying she likes Ryoko and her other friend as well.
- Done by Mihoshi in Sora No Manimani. After she apparently says "I love you!" to Saku, there's a beat, a chance for Saku and Hime to be stunned, followed by Mihoshi listing every other member of the Astronomy Club, leaving Saku and Hime stunned in a different way.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! uses this once or twice as well. Once when trying to encourage Asuna to confess to Takahata - I've always liked you, Asuna *gasp and blush* And so does Konoka and everyone else! The second is when Negi is about to head to the Magical World, gets Asuna alone and asks her to come, seeming to imply a Relationship Upgrade on the pactio thing, and then invites everyone else along as well. Asuna's reaction is rather suspicious but ambiguous as well.
- One "lost" page in Axis Powers Hetalia who didn't make into the published book has Poland saying this to Lithuania, but the latter interprets and rejects it as mere "like", despite Poland's attitude aiming more to a serious "like-love". Many doujinshi authors ran with this as the base for more shipping interpretations; a popular one is that Lithuania was in love with Poland at the time, but preferred to reject it because he couldn't bear with the transition from Heterosexual Life Partners to full couple.
- A straighter example would be Italy. He's very vocal about his love for Germany, but his incredibly affectionate nature towards everyone in general (including their friend Japan and random pretty girls on the street) and his overall ditziness implicitly leads Germany to assume that he only means "love" in the friendship sense, especially in the scene where Italy pesters Germany about what he thinks of him. In fact, even when Germany realizes that he does love Italy in that way, it's still not 100% clear whether Italy loves Germany specifically and really was flirting with him, or loves Germany in a more general sense and is just oblivious to what his actions can come across as, although the strong implication that Germany is Italy's long-lost childhood love probably clinches it.
- Hanamaru Kindergarten has Yamamoto-sensei say it, but unlike most romantic examples she doesn't say it to the guy who likes her (Unlucky Everydude Tsuchida-sensei), but rather to Anzu, who was confronting Yamamoto because of her own crush on Tsuchida.
- Love Freak Haiji from Ai Kora turns out to have this sort of attitude, which cheeses off Ayame, who had been developing feelings for him.
- Maede also does this during Yukari's confessions.
- Early on in Maison Ikkoku, Godai receives a handmade scarf from Kyoko. He is dismayed when he learns that Mitaka received one as well. They debate whether that means she likes them equally, only to learn she made scarves for everyone at Ikkoku as thanks for taking care of her when she was sick.
- Izaya Orihara loves all of humanity (Except Shizuo).
- Shinra is also not considered apart of the love for all humanity because he outright states that Shinra is out of this world which actually puts him above all of humanity.
- A variation occurs in Fushigi Yuugi; When Nuriko confesses to Tamahome that he loves Miaka, he goes on to say, "For that matter, I love you too. I love Hotohori, Tasuki - all of them. I think that's what makes me a Suzaku warrior, and I'm proud of that." The whole speech is so vague that fans still dispute whether Nuriko was IN love with Miaka, or if he just really loved her as a friend.
- In Katekyo Hitman Reborn! Tsuna is thrilled when his crush Kyoko gives him a charm thinking this mean she likes him but is soon disappointed when he learns that she made some for Gokudera and Yamamoto too.
- Ash's Muk from Pokémon who happily shows affection to anyone he can get his hands on.
- Done rather confusingly in the Little Busters anime. In the original visual novel, there's a scene where Riki mentally admits to kinda sorta having a crush on Kyousuke but outwardly denies it, only to have Kyousuke say that Riki is his number one right now, causing Riki to blush, wondering whether he means what it sounds like. In the anime, after Kyousuke says that, Riki rushes to say that he doesn't like him (using the same words as when denying it in the VN), causing Kyousuke to get very depressed and leave. Riki follows him dramatically, saying that he does love him...just like he loves all the Little Busters. For some reason, Kyousuke seems pleased by this, and the scene ends with them chanting about how awesome the Little Busters group is. And so their relationship once again returns to the ambiguous...
- Yukari's use of "suki" on Yui in episode 5 of Yuyushiki makes it sounds like a homoerotic Love Confession.
- In the movie Love Actually, 10-year-old (roughly) Sam has a giant crush on a girl in his class, Joanna. However, he's convinced she doesn't know who he is. When he finds out she's going to sing in the Christmas concert, he learns to play the drums to be part of her band. She ends up singing an (awesome) cover of "All I Want for Christmas", and on the line "All I Want for Christmas is you", she turns around (he's behind her) and points to him. Sam is elated, until she turns back to the audience and picks out random people, singing "And you, and you, and you, and you!" Sam is devastated. In reality, she was really pointing to him and the rest was just showmanship.
- Subverted in a way in the Matrix Reloaded:
Architect: It is interesting reading your reactions. Your five predecessors were, by design, based on a similar predication: a contingent affirmation that was meant to create a profound attachment to the rest of your species, facilitating the function of the One. While the others experienced this in a general way, your experience is far more specific. Vis-à-vis: love.
- One of the most memorable scenes in In America has the father show up at the door of his neighbor Mateo who's dying of AIDS after he's bonded with the family, and asks angrily if he's in love with his wife. His response is spoken in a bitter tone:
Mateo: No... I'm in love with you.(beat) And I'm in love with your beautiful woman. And I'm in love with your kids. And I'm even in love with your unborn child. I'm even in love with your anger! I'm in love with anything that lives!
- Not this trope exactly, but close to it - in the one of the Troubleshooters, Inc. books, (openly gay) Jules, during a romantic-pep/get-over-yourself talk he's giving his boss, Max, says, "I love you," - but when he sees the sympathetic/uncomfortable look on Max's face, laughs and says, "Not like that!"
- Pride And Prejudice: One of the reasons Mr. Darcy initially believes Jane isn't in love with his best friend (and why Mr. Bingley finds it so easy to believe) is that she treats Bingley the same kind, friendly way she treats everybody.
- Similar reasons kept Scott from acting on his attraction to Jenny in Teen Idol, she's nice to everyone.
- The Last Olympian: Percy tries to pull this off when talking to Athena about Annabeth. She's not impressed.
Athena: I would know your reasons (for rejecting becoming a god).
Percy: I want to be a regular guy. I want to grow up. Have, you know, a regular high school experience.
Athena: And my daughter?
Percy: I couldn't leave her. (Then he adds quickly) Or Grover. Or-
- Slight twist on this trope in Francine Rivers’ An Echo In the Darkness: Alexander tries to convince Hadassah to leave Rome with him, declaring passionate (genuine) love for her; she responds by admitting she loves him too, and then crushes him by listing all the things she loves about him—in a completely platonic manner.
Alexander: What would you say if I told you I love you? Because I do! Hadassah, I love you! Doesn't that make a difference?
Hadassah: I love you too, Alexander…I'll always love you for your kindness to me, for your compassion to countless others, for your hunger to know truth…
Alexander: I wasn't speaking of brotherly love.
- In the Ranger's Apprentice series, in Book 10, this exchange occurs between Evanlyn and Horace when she is about to leave:
Evanlyn: What about you, Horace? Will you worry about me?
Horace: (turns red) Ah... well... yes. Of course. And Alyss too, of course. Both of you. I'll worry about both of you.
- Reversed in Tales of MU: as a grain nymph, Amaranth naturally loves everybody, in a sexual way, but she's also specifically in love with Mackenzie. Unsurprisingly, Mack needs some convincing on the latter point due to her crippling self-esteem issues.
Live Action TV
- In Stacked, Skyler (a Hello Nurse bombshell played by Pamela Anderson) says "I love you" to Stuart, and he says it back. But Skyler (unlike Stuart) really did mean it in a generic, affectionate sense. When Stuart becomes clear on this, he pretends that he too is prone to say "I love you" in a casual, affectionate way—going so far as to say it to random customers in the bookshop where he and Skyler work.
- On an early episode of That '70s Show, a nervous Eric says to Donna, "I love you... man." Thus spoiling the first three words.
- And that's his second attempt. On his first try he for some reason went with, "I love cake."
- A very funny scene in Angel involves Cordelia telling Angel "I love you." When a shocked Angel responds "What?", she says "Of course I love you." Then she calls out to where the others are working "Angel loves me and I love him. Don't you guys love Angel?" and Wesley, Fred, and Gunn all chime simultaneously "We love you, Angel!" Due to the skill of the actors involved, an absolute knee-slapper.
- He's trying to work up to telling her he thinks he's developed romantic feelings for her and she interrupts him with "Angel, are you trying to tell me you love me? It's ok, I love you too". He's surprised she was able to just come right out with it, but she just wants to reassure him that she knows he cares about her, turns out that five minutes earlier everyone else was saying they loved each just in case they all die in the coming apocalypse.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Uh, when you say you love us all...?"
- Torchwood, Season 2, episode 1 "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." Jack says "I came back for you", apparently to Ianto; we see Ianto; then back to Jack, who adds "all of you"; we see the rest of the team.
- In Farscape, Zhaan pulls this on Aeryn. Aeryn stands there shocked while Zhaan starts saying how she loves the whole universe.
- On How I Met Your Mother Barney intends to confess to Ted that he is in fact in love with Robin. Instead, he announces to Robin herself that he's "in love with... tacos!"
- This happens in an episode of Stargate Atlantis, while Rodney is on his (apparent) death bed.
Weir: Rodney, you're a good person. Know that we love you.
McKay: You love me? Really? All of you?
Sheppard: In a way a friend feels about another friend.
McKay: You're just saying that because I'm gonna die.
- Later it's played for laughs with Rodney trying to turn Weir's statement into something romantic and her quickly reminding him that she said "we."
- A variation occurs on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Odo is talking to Kira about his name, which literally translates into "nothing", and how appropriate he used to find it. He thought "nothing" described him perfectly, "and then I met you...and the others."
- Used in Lost Girl during a scene between Bo and Lauren in second season finale.
Bo: I love you…all, so much
- This is made all the more conspicuous by the fact that Bo and Lauren are alone during this conversation.
- When the eponymous Kamen Rider Fourze (an Idiot Hero who's Oblivious to Love) was asked if there was someone he likes, we get this gem.
"Everybody I've ever been friends with. Everybody I'm currently friends with. And everybody I'm ever gonna be friends with."
- In Avenue Q, Kate is thrilled to get a personalized mix tape from Princeton...until he happily announces that he's going to make them for everybody. Then he goes and asks her out directly.
- The contents of the mix tape don't help her out much.
You've Got a Friend/The Theme from Friends/That's What Friends Are For .... awww, shit!
Oh, wait ... A Whole New World/Kiss the Girl/My Cheri Amour ... he really does like me!
- In Tales Of Legendia, during a skit entitled "Girl Talk", Norma asks the sweet, beautiful and utterly clueless Grune about who her favourite boy in their party is. Grune thinks for a moment and answers that it must be Senel — to the horror of Chloe and Shirley, who both have strong romantic feelings for him — only to cheerfully continue that she also loves Will, and Moses, and Jay, and Giet.
- Just so the joke fully carries to those that haven't played the game: Giet is a dog. (Well, generic wolf like quadruped creature #326)
- In Grandia I the delivery gets inverted slightly; love interest Feena asks Justin if he loves her, his response is to tell her he does...and so do their other friends, too.
- Variation in Tales Of Hearts. The Rival/Ace Chalcedny has just got done confessing to the woman he loves, and to cap it off, swears to bring her a world where she can smile. It's a fairly powerful scene... until the main character Shing steps up and declares, "We'll give you that world too!" The rest of the party drags Shing off as he protests, "It's better if everyone helps together, right?"
- In the High School AU arc of Dubious Company, Sal gives her childhood friend, Leeroy, chocolates for Valentine's Day. He's surprised and deeply touched, and equally crushed when she tells him she made chocolates for everyone.
- Taisei of Sakana has (up to this point at least) really no one who he can't stand, and is always friendly to even the jerkiest of people, as his mind seems to operating on the Power of Friendship. This seems to be strongest counter argument for the tons of Ho Yay that he emits, due to him being this and having No Sense of Personal Space. That being said, it's not ruled out that he can have romantic affection exclusive for some people because he did have a girlfriend until a few weeks before the plot started.
- Roomie from Go Get A Roomie just loves everyone. Though she doesn't seem to love love anyone. She falls in a complicated spot in between Allergic to Love, and Anything That Moves.
- Hey Arnold this issue come up between Arnold and Lilah, both have asked each other if they simply like the other of or they, as they put it, "Like-me, like me". They both have held both forms of like towards each other, just unfortunately, at different times.
- Recess: T.J. copes with his hatred of Valentine's Day by sending every girl in his grade a joke valentine, which they all turn out to like way more than he intended... until they learn he sent them to every other girl and promptly turn lynch mob.
- South Park: Butters is sent to Camp New Grace, which Butters is unaware is a church camp for "correcting" gay children. He has the following exchange with his roomie, who does know why he's there:
Bradley: I think, I, I th-, I thnk I like you.
Butters: Well I like you too, Bradley.
Bradley: You do??
Bradley: You like-like me?
Butters: Sure, I like-like you a-lot-a-lot!
- Many languages, including Dutch and German, have the same word for "friend" and "girlfriend/boyfriend". In Dutch, the diminutive is commonly used to distinguish between the two, but it's still very common to get confused.
- The Hebrew term for boyfriend/girlfriend is "the friend." This can lead to confusion for people with only rudimentary Hebrew.
- And then there's "yedid/yedidah" which is another word for friend that doesn't imply romantic interest at all, but can sometimes come off sounding like a Suspiciously Specific Denial.
- In German, the two are distinguished by "friend" being 'a friend' whereas "boyfriend/girlfriend" is 'my friend'. Forgetful slip-ups on the part of non-native German speakers is pretty common.
- It's even common for native speakers, and sometimes you can't even talk about one of your same-sex friends without people assuming you're in a homosexual relationship. Can get awkward.
- Dutch has the same problem, when the diminutive isn't used - 'mijn vriendin' literally means 'my female friend' or 'my girlfriend', but people usually assume it's the second meaning. 'Een vriendin' means 'A female friend' or 'A girlfriend', but people generally assume it's the first meaning. Though the rules about this aren't as strict as in German, there's still some misunderstanding involved whenever you talk about 'mijn vriendin', if it's a platonic female friend.
- Then there's also the Japanese terms 'kanojo' and 'kare', which can mean 'girlfriend' and 'boyfriend' or simply 'she' and 'he', depending on the context. Like all words that can change meaning based on context, this can get confusing.
- In Flemish, the words "I enjoy seeing you" ("Ik zie je graag") are often used instead of "I love you" ("Ik hou van je"). This is not the case in Dutch (which is almost the same language as Flemish), which must have lead to some... interesting situations.
- And in German, a direct translation of the words "Ik hou van je" (which means "I love you" in both Flemish and Dutch) would mean "I think you are [X]". Confusion, everywhere.
- Fortunately, "beminnen" still means love in the strict sense of the word in both Dutch and Flemish. However, not a lot of people use this, as it is rather archaic and "minnaar"/"minnares" (a male and female lover, respectively) have the negative connotation of cheating attached to them. ("Minne" used to be what is now "liefde" (love) until somewhere in the Renaissance.)
- In English (at least in this Troper's part of the U.S.) the term "girlfriend" can mean a female significant other, or (usually in the plural) female friends which go out together and do feminine things.
- Used that way here in Canada, too. "Bob really likes his girlfriend" compared to "Alice spent the day shopping with her girlfriends" (or "how are you, girlfriend?"). Usually, you can tell what is meant based on the context. However, you should never take it the other way and ask a guy about how he spent his day with his boyfriends. It just doesn't work gender-flipped. Also of confusion in Canada is the word "chum." Literally a friend or chum in English, but in French it can mean "friend" or "boyfriend" (similar to the languages above where it's used two ways).
- In writing, this can be differentiated by calling the former a "girlfriend" and the latter a "girl friend," but that doesn't translate verbally (and is kind of awkward in writing anyhow).
- Some try to circumvent this by using more platonic terms such as "gal pal" or "guyfriend" to contrast with "girlfriend" or "boyfriend", but it doesn't always work, usually on the basis that "it's a friend who just happens to be of the opposite sex" can come across as Suspiciously Specific Denial.
- Made even worse by some people of the older generation who use "hook up" to mean meet with or make plans with, rather than the current slang meaning "have sex with."
- Double subverted in Turkish. Deep romantic love has a different verb ("aşık olmak") than shallow love of foodstuffs or a friend's love (sevmek). But today, both can be used to describe romantic love.
- Averted in Norwegian, where the word for a boyfriend or girlfriend is "kjæreste", literally "dearest" or "most beloved", whereas the word for friend is "venn". However, since the word "kjæreste" is considered somewhat old-fashioned, or formal, many use the term "typen min" or "dama mi", ("my guy", or "my lady"), in this context it's still pretty clear what it means.
- Though the term "to like" is still just as confusing in Norwegian as it is in English. 'Like'-like, or just like? An eternal question of insecure teenagers. The word for loving (å elske) is also generally seen as being very intimate and sounding less elegant than how the English use "love", probably influenced by the large number of love declarations in English-language films, as opposed to this very rarely happening in Scandinavian cinema.
- American Sign Language has the same issue, the sign for "girlfriend" literally being 'girl'+'friend', and the same is true for "boyfriend". It can usually be resolved by adding that you're 'together' or 'going steady', or adding airquotes.
- Also, when learning ASL, it's very common to get the four types of "love" (intimate love, brotherly love, "hey just messin', love ya", and love of inanimate objects ("I love that movie")) mixed up.
- On Facebook it's a popular trend to put yourself as "in a relationship" with a (usually same-sex) friend as a joke. The people who do this often get annoyed when other people assume they're together, treating the fact that they're the same sex as an obvious sign that they wouldn't be together and it was just a joke.
- In Chinese, the system is quite similar to English. "Girl-friend" indicates a romantic partner, but is also often used to refer to platonic friends. To be safe, a rarer term is "Girl-gender(=female)-friend", which sounds awkward and can come across as a Suspiciously Specific Denial.