Te quiero/Te amo
Handily, or confusingly, depending on which way you look at it, Spanish has two phrases that mean ‘I love you’. In general, te quiero is used in a slightly more casual way (its other meaning is ‘I want you’, so you are telling your love in a nice way that you want them), whereas te amo is more a grand declaration of true love. Both phrases are ideal for long-term relationships.
Me caes bien
You want to play it cool, perhaps it’s early days and you don’t want to scare them away by dropping the L-word so soon. Me caes bien, or ‘I like you’ is a friendly way to show your interest without coming on too strong. It’s a good way to test the water and see if they like you back before diving into more romantic language.
Eres el amor de mi vida
Perhaps an ideal phrase to whip out before you propose or on your wedding day ‘you’re the love of my life’ is seriously romantic and should only be used when you really are in love. Definitely not one for a first date.
Eres mi media naranja
This sweet phrase, meaning literally ‘you’re my half orange’ is the equivalent of ‘my other half’ or ‘my soul mate’ in English and is a good line for a long-term girlfriend or boyfriend.
Te quiero con todo mi corazón
A Valentine’s Day staple perhaps, ‘I love you with all of my heart’ should be reserved for long-term, serious relationships. It is a deep declaration of love that you don’t want to whip out too soon.
Te ves hermosa/hermoso esta noche
‘You look beautiful/handsome tonight’ is a good compliment for a date early in the relationship. It doesn’t have creepy connotations and shows you are definitely into your partner.
OK, it’s not strictly romantic, but you want to invite your date inside after a night out. Use this phrase, meaning ‘would you like to come in?’ to signal your interest. It could innocently mean you are inviting them in for a drink, or hint that you have something else in mind entirely, depending on how you say it.
Estoy loco/a por ti
‘I’m crazy about you’ might not be right for the first date, but could be ideal to signal how strong your feelings are a few dates into your relationship.
Mi amor, cariño, cielo
These popular Spanish pet names can be used for both romantic and familial relationships. ‘My love’, ‘my darling’ and ‘my sky’ are some of the most regularly used when Spaniards want to refer to their other halves.
¿Quieres casarte conmigo?
You’re ready to take the plunge and propose marriage to your significant other. This simple phrase does the job; now you just have to decide where is the most romantic place to pop the question…