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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Wants 'I Love You' to Be Reserved for Those She Loves

DEAR ABBY: I have strong feelings about the word "love." I use it only when I truly mean it. My husband's family, however, bandies it about as a common word.

How does one respond when someone says "I love you" when you know he or she doesn't mean it and is only saying it as a pleasantry? I hate saying it back to someone I don't really love. I feel the phrase should be reserved only when you are saying it from the heart. Any advice on what I should say, if anything at all? -- KEEPING MUM IN MISSISSIPPI

DEAR KEEPING MUM: Because you are part of the extended family, and family is supposed to "love" each other, the expected and appropriate response would be, "I love you too, darlin'!" But since you can't bring yourself to go that far, just coo in return, "And you're such a love to say that!"