What does the word "just" mean?
February 20, 2009 3:58 PM   Subscribe

A girl at work said "I 'just' love you, {my name}". What does adding the "just" word actually mean?

I had said something and she laughed and then said it. I can't figure out if she was trying to tell me she loves me or just as a friend by adding that word. I said back "I love you to."

Good Details: We have worked together for a year or so. It is kind of a crowded area where we work but we do hug almost every time we see each other, she comes to me for hugs, and sometimes the hugs are very tight from both sides.

Bad Details: I am almost 51 and she is 30. She is very good looking. I am not bad but here's the really bad thing, we are both married. She has 2 elementary age kids, mine are grown up and, in fact, 1 of my kids is older than her.

I know its bad and I don't need a lecture on that part. I just want to know how adding that word in there affected the meaning of the statement.
posted by OneCrayon to Human Relations (53 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
She does not LOVE you.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:00 PM on February 20, 2009 [15 favorites]

You did something to reaffirm her positive attitude towards you. She might not necessarilly love you, but she thinks your a swell person for whatever reason and you did something to remind her of that.
posted by nitsuj at 4:01 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

It means she loves you like she would love something like a cute puppy. Not that she LOVES you and wants to be with you forever and ever.
posted by zsazsa at 4:01 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just love [the way] you [make me laugh sometimes].
posted by dersins at 4:01 PM on February 20, 2009 [14 favorites]

She loves you like she loves Big Macs, roller coasters and lizards.
posted by sunshinesky at 4:02 PM on February 20, 2009 [18 favorites]

It means you make her laugh sometimes. Laughing is fun. That's it. Friends make each other laugh. Sometimes, if friends spend too much time together, they really get on each others' nerves.
posted by amtho at 4:02 PM on February 20, 2009

It's pretty much the same thing as when a cashier calls you "honey." It doesn't mean she's expecting you to dump your wife for her.
posted by sageleaf at 4:02 PM on February 20, 2009

You're not even on the romantic radar.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 4:05 PM on February 20, 2009 [7 favorites]

I think dersins has it, but lest these "she doesn't really love you" answers should seem overly negative, I was thinking about the context in which I might say the same thing: She's probably delighted to work with someone fun, someone she considers a friend rather than a coworker. "I just love you, OneCrayon" was probably an expression of that friendship. It sounds like you may be mis-reading her hugs and comments as something inappropriate (given that you're both married) when she really means them as affirmations of your friendship.
posted by Meg_Murry at 4:08 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Welcome to the Friend Zone.
We hope you enjoy your stay.
posted by special-k at 4:10 PM on February 20, 2009 [8 favorites]

I just love you vs. I love you = pinching you playfully on the cheek vs. kissing you on the mouth.
posted by meerkatty at 4:10 PM on February 20, 2009

seconding Meg_Murry.

i say "i just love you" to my co-workers because i am especially fond of working with people that make me laugh and that i enjoy being around.
posted by gursky at 4:14 PM on February 20, 2009

She thinks you're awesome, but you're not a romantic prospect.
posted by bettafish at 4:16 PM on February 20, 2009

Ok, I think friendship is it. But her hugs get quite intense sometimes. Perhaps she may have some mixed feelings but she knows the difficulties that would exist if anything were to happen between us so it would not be worth the trouble.
posted by OneCrayon at 4:18 PM on February 20, 2009

Adding the word "just" negates the statement down to one of friendly fondness. It's an exaggerated idiom, "Oh, I just love you" is on the same level as "I really get a kick out of you." She sounds like a very friendly, possibly flirty, person who likes you a lot and has no serious romantic inclinations towards you at all.

"I love you too" isn't the worst response you could have come up with, but I'd avoid using the word "love" on your end anymore since it carries different connotations to you and you're unlikely to successfully use it in the same lighthearted manner that she is using it. "You're great too" is probably an easier response and is closer to what the relationship actually is.
posted by CheshireCat at 4:20 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Maybe your hugs are intense, but you still may be reading way too much into what she said unless there is more you aren't telling us. People say stuff like "I just love you" all the time casually to mean basically, "you're a hoot." If you want to think she has feelings for you, fine, but you shouldn't act any differently towards her since (again, unless you're leaving something out), she hasn't done anything to indicate that she does.
posted by fructose at 4:22 PM on February 20, 2009

Don't read too much in to the 'love yous' or the hugs. If I've learned nothing else in 42 years it's that if it's obvious that a woman likes you, she doesn't.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 4:23 PM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]

Some people like to hug with intensity. Don't torment yourself over possibilities, especially as the circumstances (you both being married) don't lead the way towards any easy relationship.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:26 PM on February 20, 2009

She's likely inappropriately flirty. There is some juice there, but there is zero chance this could end well.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:40 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would say she just just loves you, not that she loves loves you
posted by poppo at 4:42 PM on February 20, 2009

If you do the "chick math" then she's the the right age for you.

Ask her out for a drink. She's 31. She'll know what a "drink" means and if she says no, you'll no longer have to wonder.
posted by Zambrano at 4:43 PM on February 20, 2009

13. actually; really; positively: The weather is just glorious.

But the meaning of the word "love" here is more like
enjoy, get a kick out of; can be said sincerely, ironically, or even sarcastically: "I just love Coldplay's new album."
posted by salvia at 4:49 PM on February 20, 2009

Zambrano, did you miss the part where they're both married? And co-workers? Both very good reasons not to ask someone out for a "drink".

OneCrayon, it doesn't mean anything other than that you've got a good friend at work. Which is awesome, as long as you don't mess it up by overthinking her word choices and trying to make them mean something they don't.
posted by ook at 4:49 PM on February 20, 2009

What does adding the "just" word actually mean?

With zero malice in my heart, sir, it means you've got a lot to learn about interacting with the opposite sex. I hope this thread helps you connect the dots and improves your life.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:59 PM on February 20, 2009

She's into you,.... she's just not THAT into you.
posted by jmnugent at 5:06 PM on February 20, 2009

I actually thinks it's ambiguous.

She might be flirting with you. Or you might be condemned to the "friend zone". Hard to tell, based on your descriptions of the situation.

If you want to figure out if it's more than platonic, withdraw slightly. Offer a subtle, muted "apologize" for acting inappropriately, for not being in control of yourself. See how she reacts -- if she laughs it off then you're definitely in the friend zone. If she blushes, she might feel something for you but not want to take it further. If she rips your clothes off...well...
posted by randomstriker at 5:18 PM on February 20, 2009

While she enjoys working with various people, you're probably one of those she really looks forward to working with, she really enjoys you. This is a good thing.

If you're having thoughts in the back of your mind, if you're trying out various scenarios and "what if" situations, be honest with yourself about what that means.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:20 PM on February 20, 2009

She's your work spouse.
posted by jtfowl0 at 5:38 PM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

You're on the wrong ladder.
posted by dbgrady at 5:45 PM on February 20, 2009

At the moment it sounds like she enjoys working with you and her feelings are so so so platonic that she can say "I just love you!" without it even occurring to her that it might be misconstrued as anything other than friendship.

This meaning of the phrase - denoting fondness not luuuurve - is so familiar to most that it sounds like wilful misreading on your part.

If you were to apologize to her for inappropriateness as randomstriker suggests, you're telling het about your wilful misreading, and putting an end to her ability to enjoy your company certain in the knowledge that it's all platonic: an excellent way to make her feel uncomfortable and taken advantage of.

It just means she enjoys working with someone who makes her laugh.
posted by springbound at 5:54 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I also reserve the right to retract my good-natured well-wishes in the event you're a lecher looking for validation from strangers on the internet. Just sayin'.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:55 PM on February 20, 2009

On the other hand, Zambrano might be correct. If so, you've got to be very careful indeed. A world of hurt awaits the man who complicates his life with too many women.

Too many is usually less than or equal to 2.

Imagine juggling 2 chainsaws and 1 live wolverine. Imagine what your kids would think.
posted by stubby phillips at 6:10 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, change your profile.
posted by stubby phillips at 6:14 PM on February 20, 2009

I have said similar things to men before, and I always, always use it to mean, roughly translated, something like, "I really don't like you as anything more than a friend. See! I have no qualms about saying 'you' and 'love' in the same sentence, which I would if I liked you more."

Obviously, girl code is not universal, but as an analytical female, I see saying this as basically the exact opposite of flirting. It's an attempt to establish the complete non-romantic interest on her part.
posted by bluestocking at 6:29 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, no one at all interested in an affair with you would say that. Waaay too emotionally risky-- flirting is indirection.
posted by Maias at 6:34 PM on February 20, 2009

Ok, I think friendship is it. But her hugs get quite intense sometimes. Perhaps she may have some mixed feelings but she knows the difficulties that would exist if anything were to happen between us so it would not be worth the trouble.

Whoa, dude! Some people just like to hug; don't try to read her mind, especially since you can't even read her words (which just about everyone here clearly interprets as, "I like you, but not that way.")

Honestly, based on your comments alone I think you're projecting your feelings onto her. Which, given that you're both married to other people, is probably something that should be resolved (through therapy, stepping away from this friendship, something more drastic - your choice) before people get their feelings seriously hurt.
posted by bettafish at 6:55 PM on February 20, 2009

Just leave it alone.

She likes you. Lots of people like you (probably). This is true of most people on the planet.

No good can come of this outside of you and her being nice to each other while you're working together. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Leave. It. Alone.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:58 PM on February 20, 2009

The use of "just" here is a shortening of "just about", a quaint sort of "almost" which implies that there's an exaggeration to let you know that they feel strongly about something.

A grandparent may say of a newborn "He's so cute I could just eat him right up!", but that grandparent is in no way indicating that the baby is at risk of being served for dinner.

Alternately, a husband or wife may say of their spouse "I could just kill him/her!" when they find out that the spouse has done something wrong. However, in the vast majority of cases, there will be no violence.

In this case, she's saying that she feels so positively towards something you did -- in this case, crack a joke -- that the feeling approaches, at least fleetingly, that of being in love. "Almost like being in love." But she's most likely not saying that she's actually romantically in love with you.

The appropriate non-committal response of mutual friendly appreciation would be something like "I have to say I'm honored."
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 7:06 PM on February 20, 2009

When I had a mad crush on my older, married project manager, the LAST thing in the ENTIRE WORLD I'd even CONTEMPLATE doing is saying "I just love you," much less touch him in any way whatsoever. Blushing and rapidly exiting the room was my preferred mode of interaction.

However, I've seen career women cold-bloodedly manipulate clueless men like this all the time. Ask yourself: is there anything she stands to gain by wrapping you around her finger? Either that, or you're like a big, goofy sexless teddy bear to her.
posted by aquafortis at 7:15 PM on February 20, 2009

Dude, if you've gotten this far: You're reading waaaaaay too much into this. Some people throw around love you's and hugs more than others. Given your "Good Details" above, it doesn't necessarily mean anything.
posted by Simon Barclay at 7:30 PM on February 20, 2009

If you were roommates the same girl would be asking you for backrubs. Girls who ask for backrubs are definitely not interested in having sex with you.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:36 PM on February 20, 2009

She loves you like one might love a cupcake. You read too much into this, you should perhaps hold a mirror up to yourself and ask why.
posted by saturnine at 7:36 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree it probably doesn't mean anything more than "you're really funny and a cool friend," but Jesus people are being cruel here. Come on.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:24 PM on February 20, 2009

This seems like it may be a bit of a generational misunderstanding. The thing you need to understand is that pretty much everyone 30 and under (including myself) was raised in a very different world than the one you were raised in. We grew up in a very touchy-feely world, where you hugged all your friends and maybe even people you just met, told your friends that you loved them, etc., etc. So if a 30 year old woman hugs you and says she loves you, it's possible and even very likely that she means as a friend only. As a 29 year old female I can tell you that if I have a crush or feelings for someone at work, the very last thing I would do is playfully hug them or tell them that I love them, however I often do this with male friends that I have zero romantic interest in.
posted by katyggls at 8:51 PM on February 20, 2009

I love Mr. 26.2.

I just love puppies, lolcats, my gay hairdresser, cute shoes, Gene Kelly movies, ice cream sandwiches and when babies smile at me.

You have a crush on a sweet young thang and there's nothing wrong with that. However, unless you want to from friend the office pal she "just loves" to the geezer who gives her the creeps, you need to keep you crush to yourself.
posted by 26.2 at 9:17 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I take it as just=really. As in I really love you as a trusted friend & I trust you not to interpret this the wrong way as a romantic thing. You are good work friends and that's all.

I have people tell me all the time that they "just love" my accent. This doesn't mean they want to buy my vocal cords dinner.
posted by arcticseal at 9:21 PM on February 20, 2009

"Just" is one of those words with many meanings, so this is a hard one. The way she used it could have either of these two meanings: "simply" or "truly"/"really."

For example, if you yell at your friend, demanding to know why he skipped work and he says, "I just felt like it" he means he *simply* felt like it- no deeper meaning exists (or he doesn't plan to offer a deeper meaning).

Other example: You give someone a gift and the person says, "that's just perfect!" That means it's really, truly a great gift.

Whichever way she is using it, don't assume she is IN love with you. That is a very different sentiment.
posted by Piscean at 9:27 PM on February 20, 2009

I know long, intense, but platonic hugs between friends of opposite genders are quite normal for my generation. Perhaps they are for hers as well, but not yours? Thus the confusion? Come to think of it, same exact thing with using "love" that way.

Either way, I can guarantee you're reading too much into it. She doesn't really love you.
posted by Gotham at 12:17 AM on February 21, 2009

She really feels a connection with you and looks to you as a source of support, energy, affirmation, all the good things you get from someone who is on your wavelength. She misses you when you are not there. She thinks of you when certain things are funny. She wants you to be happy but she also wishes she has some part in your happiness. She sees you and realizes (to quote Kelly Clarkson) her life would suck without you.

She would act on her feelings were in not for the fact you and she are both not free to do so. She sometimes really wishes she could act.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 10:17 AM on February 21, 2009

Uh, before I read the inner text, I took a completely different meaning out of that text.
I just love you. I can't help it, I just do. There is nothing more to be said, no linguistic flourishes! My heart swells, simple and true, for you OneCrayon.
But yeah, probably not. In any case, you won't know unless you ask her out. You should break ahead of time if you decide to do that. Which would be a rather high price to pay for a shot at a drink with a good hugger, don't you think?
posted by phrontist at 12:15 PM on February 21, 2009

You should break up ahead of time if you decide to do that.
posted by phrontist at 12:16 PM on February 21, 2009

Sorry, I meant...
You should break up your family ahead of time if you decide to do that.

posted by phrontist at 12:17 PM on February 21, 2009

Looking at this in black & white (which is all we can do since we don't know either of you), I see no evidence of romantic feelings on her part.

a) some people are simply touchy\feely and hug a lot (I suppose the tightness of the hugs are open for interpretation)
b) most workplaces are really boring so anyone who lightens the mood is going to be a welcome sight
c) assuming she has marital problems AND really likes you a lot, that still doesn't equal her wanting an affair
d) consider how incredibly uncomfortable your job could be if she rebuffs you when you ask her out

You can certainly keep your eyes open for any clues in the future but I wouldn't ask her out now.
posted by bda1972 at 1:37 PM on February 21, 2009

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