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I don’t think Valentine’s Day (Valentijnsdag) is traditionally a big deal in the Netherlands, but since we live in a world that has close contact with other cultures via the media, internet, television, etc., it’s not uncommon to do something small and special for your loved one here too. Although Dutch may not be known as the language of love, there are lots of ways of expressing how much you care about that special someone. In order to help you in your romantic endeavors and spice up your life, here are a few words and phrases about love.
houden van : to love
Houden van is very dependent on context. Thus, I can use it to express how much I like something, or how much I love someone. You can use this for your partner, your mother, your family, your children, anyone who you love, even your favorite food or your town.
Ik hou van mijn vriend/vriendin.
I love my boyfriend/girlfriend.
Wij houden van elkaar.
We love each other.
Ik hou van jou.
I love you.
Ik hou van dansen.
I love dancing.
verliefd zijn op : to have a crush on
This is the starry-eyed, having a crush on, lovey-dovey feeling of love instead of the very serious and intense feelings of love. For expressing deep love for someone you would still use houden van. You wouldn’t use verliefd zijn op with your mother, or your children, or other family members.
Ik ben verliefd op die leuke jongen bij mij in de klas.
I have a crush on that cute guy in my class.
Dutch doesn’t have a particular word that designates whether someone is your romantic boy/girlfriend or just a “normal” boy/girlfriend. This is very much derived from context. Sometimes to specify the relationship, the word order makes all the difference.
Hij is mijn vriend. Zij is mijn vriendin.
He is my boyfriend. She is my girlfriend.
This can indicate an intimate or romantic relationship with the person. But not always. And the Dutch sometimes get this one confused as well.
Hij is een vriend van mij. Zij is een vriend van mij.
He is a friend of mine. She is a friend of mine.
This generally indicates that a person is just your friend. It implies that you have many friends and this person is one of them.
de liefde : love
schatje : cutie
He schatje, wil je iets van me drinken?
Hey cutie, would you like something to drink? (implying the person asking will pay)
Ik heb vlinders in mijn buik.
I have butterflies in my stomach.
Ik vind je leuk.
Literally: I find you nice, but in the right context : I really like you.