Good Words To Know For Essays About Love

LICENSE TO WED
by Donna Kelsey, Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin

One summer day in 1957, we headed to the courthouse for a marriage license. My husband-to-be, Steve, asked the clerk for a fishing license. She advised him a fishing license cost $1.50 and a marriage license cost $2.50. With some thought and a smile, he chose the marriage license, and so our life together, later filled with two children, began. Whenever we had a disagreement, I would remind my husband that he could have saved money had he chosen a fishing license, and it would have expired in a year. The extra dollar cost him 53 years of wedded bliss.

MIRROR IMAGE
by Elana Pate, Palm Bay, Florida

In mythology, humans had four arms, four legs, and two faces. Fearing them, Zeus split them into two, forcing an eternal search for their other half. Zeus failed. When my (now) husband arrived at my house for our first date, I opened the door to my other half, dressed exactly like me, head to toe: aviator Ray-Bans, Levis, Timberland boots, the same yellow ski jacket. After our amazed laughter, he said, “One of us has to change.” I changed my clothes but not my mind. I knew we’d be together forever.

MY SHINING LIGHT
by Deborah Kahn Schreck, Sayville, New York

I volunteered at Ground Zero after hometown firefighters responded but never returned. Lt. Timothy Higgins was one of them. I felt Timmy’s presence during dark moments, guiding me along every path. Working in sight of the burning piles, I met a fire marshal named Steve. I told him I was from Freeport. Steve said he’d been a firefighter with a guy from Freeport. I asked, “Who?” He replied, “Tim Higgins.” I followed this path and married Steve in 2005. I think of Tim every day. He must have been a shining light. Certainly, he was my beacon.

DESTINY AT THE DENTIST
by Kathleen Curran, Canyon Country, California

Having just cemented a new bridge, my dental-assistant mother said to her patient, “Your girlfriend’s going to love your new teeth.” He replied, “I’m between girlfriends right now.” She said, “Don’t go anywhere. I have two daughters, Kathy and Vicky. Let me get their pictures from my wallet.” Dan was still reclined in the dental chair with his bib on and wasn’t going anywhere. Rushing back, she showed him her daughters’ photos, saying, “Here is our phone number. Give Kathy a call—she’s the older one.” He called, and we’ve been happily married for 39 years. Thanks, Mom!

A MUTUAL CALLING
by Lauren Belski, New York, New York

Brian and I have been married three years, but we’ve been together ten. We met as AmeriCorps volunteers on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Porcupine, South Dakota—a tucked-away place with a scattered population of 1,000. He taught computers and played guitar. I taught English and wrote poetry. In the volunteer house, we courted each other by making a phone out of tin cans and a string. I still remember his voice in my ear. Automatic goose bumps. A year later, our mothers discovered we were born in the same hospital in New Jersey, 1,600 miles away.

Content continues below ad

A BEAUTIFUL ROMANCE
by Carmen Marden, Campbell, New York

He left a single red rose on my windshield. He wasn’t allowed to send me flowers at work, since my husband had died only six months before. When the time was right, he sent me flowers on my birthday, Valentine’s Day, and eventually every anniversary. The guys at work told him he made them look bad. They were joking, but he wasn’t. He kept sending me flowers. He made me breakfast in bed. But most importantly, he invited my daughter and her three children to move in with us after she split from her then-husband. What’s more romantic than that?

LOVE BOAT REUNION
by Rick Bennette, Tequesta, Florida

The moment I met Denise aboard the Love Boat, I knew she was someone special. She became my first love, but we lived 90 miles apart. After the cruise, we maintained our love affair through handwritten letters. Eventually, geography took its toll. We went on to separate lives, yet I thought about her quite often. Thirty years later, we reunited in Grand Central Station. I hired a violinist to play our love song as we held each other for the first time in three decades. After wishing to be with her all those years apart, we finally married.

HE FOUND ME
by Sandra Dopierala, San Marcos, California

I was thinking I’d be alone forever after a terrible time in my life, when there he was. While I sat soaking in the fresh air after a two-week bout of bronchitis, he stood watching the waves roll in. He asked if he could sit next to me. “Sure, why not?” I said. We people-watched and talked about which dog breed was our favorite. We watched the sunset together.  I didn’t know it then, but I’d found my husband—or rather, he had found me. We now return to that spot every year on our anniversary.

THE BEST BAD HAIR DAY
by Saveeta De Alwis, Colombo, Sri Lanka

The air smelled strongly of salt. My boyfriend had asked me to meet him at the beach. I love the beach, but today the sea breeze really wasn’t helping my hair. I grumbled as I made my way to the shore. I saw the light of candles in the distance, but couldn’t make them out, as I’d forgotten my glasses. Why couldn’t he have picked another place for dinner? I walked up to him and was about to open my mouth to complain, when he suddenly got down on his knee and said, “Will you marry me?”

CALL OF DESTINY
by Louis Corio, Mount Airy, Maryland

For most couples, it’s love at first sight. For me and my wife, it was love at first sound. She called my apartment in a huff at 1:00 a.m., looking to tell off my roommate, whom she had just started dating. My roommate wasn’t home, and I happened to be standing by the phone, so she vented to me, the faceless stranger. We ended up talking for two hours, learning a lot about each other, and falling in love. Twenty-seven wonderful years later, her voice is still music to my ears!

Content continues below ad

THAT DAY
by Krista Swan, Columbus, Ohio

Our romance began with sparks. But over the years, our passion shape-shifted into smoldering resentment, periodically erupting into fiery altercations. Our two sons were in middle school when I moved us away from the inferno. We settled in my old hometown. My husband wrote me a letter filled with animosity for leaving. Then one day, everything changed. My husband called. “I realize now that nothing in life is more important than family, and I will do everything I can to keep ours together,” he said. “Please come home.” So we did. That day was September 11, 2001.

TO TONIGHT
by Kathy Cornell, Haddam, Connecticut

Sometimes I tend to think about what I don’t have: a house on the ocean, a big career I could use to impress people at my high school reunion. Then I hear his car in the driveway. I think we’ll grill tonight. Later we’ll watch some reruns of sitcoms from a long time ago that remind me of when we were young. He’ll doze off, and it’ll be time for the day to end. We’ll say good night to the cats. We’re all still here, a miracle. When I’m very old, I will wish for a day like this.

KABOOM!
by Greg Hajduk, Valparaiso, Indiana

November 26, 1975. I was at a party with friends playing ping-pong. I was 15; she was 16. Her name was Joanne. I ripped a portion from a paper bag and wrote, “Can I kiss you?” She nodded yes. We left the party and went to our hangout spot. It was 6:30 p.m. and already dark, with huge snowflakes falling. I kissed her for the first time and saw fireworks. We married August 4, 1979, and this November 26 will be the 39-year anniversary of that first kiss. I still see fireworks!

WAKE-UP CALL
by Pat Ferry, Mesa, Arizona

I was flying with C-130 cargo planes for several months, moving cargo all over the world.  I would be gone for two to three weeks, home one day, then gone again for several weeks. Upon returning home late one night, I knocked on our front door. “Who is it?” My wife called out. “Pat,” I answered. “Pat who?” she snarled. I got her point and applied for a desk job the next day.

More: Love StoriesLove & Romance, Valentine's Day

When writing about love, men are more likely to write about sex, and women about marriage. Women write more about feelings, men about actions.

Even as gender roles have merged and same-sex romance has become more accepted, men and women still speak different languages when they talk about love — at least, if Modern Love essays submitted to The New York Times are any indication.

We examined the last four years of essay submissions and charted the words along two dimensions: whether the essay was published and the author’s gender.

Words toward the top of the chart above are more likely in published essays, and those on the bottom are more likely in rejected ones; words on the right of the chart are more likely in essays submitted by women, while those on the left are more likely in essays by men. We found overlap in both dimensions, represented by words in purplish circles near the center of the chart. But there were striking differences, too.

First, between men and women: When men wrote about family, they used words like “father,” “dad” and “son,” while women used “mother,” “mom” and “daughter.” (And we checked — in these essays, the writers were almost always referring to their own or their partner’s family members, not themselves.)

Words used by men and women when talking about family

Of course, these essays represent a highly unrepresentative sample. Yet many of the patterns are backed up by research.

Parents report feeling a closer relationship to a child of the same sex even before babies are born, some studies have shown. They tend to spend more time with children of the same sex and are more likely to say they want a child of their sex. And children often look to parents of the same sex as role models for relationships.

Other studies have shown that females are more likely to talk about emotions than males are, and parents are more likely to use a larger emotional vocabulary with girls and to tell boys not to cry. Boys are generally taught to express anger; girls are advised the opposite.

That pattern shows up in these charts, too. Men’s words tended to be more active: “bomb,” “hit,” “strike,” “punch,” “battle.” Women were more likely to describe feelings: “resentment,” “furious,” “agony,” “hurt;” they were also significantly more likely to use the word “feel.” Men, meanwhile, didn’t write about different emotions than women – they just mentioned fewer of them.

Notable differences between male and female authors

And regarding sex versus love, men and women want both, said William Doherty, a couples counselor and professor of family science at the University of Minnesota. But sexual chemistry is more often an initial filter for men entering a relationship, while closeness is for women.

Still, the line between male and female behavior — emotional, romantic and otherwise — is blurring, said Robin Lakoff, professor emeritus of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Back in the 50s, men could show anger, rivalry and hostility, so they could swear,” she said. “Women could show fear, sorrow and love, and so they could cry.”

Today, she said, “it’s probably best to say we are somewhat confused about gender roles and stereotypes.”

Differences in published and rejected essays

Our analysis also offered hints about what kind of essays are published versus those that are rejected.

For example, what’s telling about many of the nouns near the top of the chart is how concrete they are. They suggest specific characters who might stride through a story — one’s father, doctor, children, mother, boyfriend or therapist — as well as where it might unfold: at a party, in an apartment, on the couch, at dinner, in bed, on a futon, at the altar, in the hospital. That specificity appears to have caught an editor’s attention and made for engaging reading.

It’s also worth noting how many more adjectives there are near the bottom of the chart — for example, “familiar,” “digital,” “beautiful,” “excited,” “proud” and “endless” — compared with top, which included “fine,” “mysterious” and “sexual.” As E.B. White put it in “The Elements of Style”: “There is nothing wrong, really, with any word — all are good, but some are better than others.”

Selected adjectives

How Certain We Are That A Word Was ...

Used more in Published essays

Used more in Unpublished essays

Used more by Male authors

Used more by Female authors

How Certain We Are That A Word Was ...

Used more in Published essays

Used more in Unpublished essays

Used more by Male authors

Used more by Female authors

How Certain We Are That A Word Was ...

Used more in Published essays

Used more in Unpublished essays

Used more by Male authors

Used more by Female authors

How Certain We Are That A Word Was ...

Used more in Published essays

Used more in Unpublished essays

Used more by Male authors

Used more by Female authors

One thought on “Good Words To Know For Essays About Love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *