What Mobile
November 11, 2018

  • Over half of modern Brits (51%) use emojis to say, ‘I love you’, rather than declaring their affection in person
  • Over the phone (31%), by text (28%) and WhatsApp (14%) are the most popular methods of communication
  • Research commissioned by Thorntons to mark the launch of its ‘Continental Journeys’ competition, helping families to reunite and spend time together this festive season.
  • Top reason Brits can’t say ‘I love you’ face to face to their families is because they’re separated by a distance
  • Accepting imperfections (47%), being comfortable in silence (36%) and travelling long distances to see each other (13%) revealed as true markers of affection

More than half (51%) of Brits saying ‘I love you’ to family and friends virtually, rather than face-to-face or over the phone.

Emojis are the most common way we show our affection (51%) with red love hearts (19%) the ‘kissing face’ (15%) and ‘heart eyes’ (9%) the most popular symbols used.

The research was commissioned by Thorntons to mark the launch of its ‘Continental Journeys’ competition, which will bring together families this festive season as part of its Pass The Love On campaign. To find out how you could be reunited with someone special to you, Thorntons is working with the charity SSAFA, which supports servicemen and women, veterans and their families. A donation of sales of all Thorntons Continental products sold in Thorntons owned stores and on the Thorntons website will go directly to SSAFA.

The research also showed that whilst face-to-face is the preferred way to say, ‘I love you’ (65%), a fifth of Brits are unable to do this as their families live in another country or city. One in six (16%) admit they find it easier to express themselves digitally rather than in person, with phone calls (31%), texts (28%) and WhatsApp (28%) most often used to say those three important words.

The survey of 2,000 British adults also found accepting a person’s imperfections (47%), being comfortable sat in silence (36%) and travelling long distances to see each other (13%) are the best ways to show true love to your nearest and dearest. The Continental Journeys competition will bring together families from across the globe, whether Tooting or Timbuktu, in time for the festive season.

Saving the last chocolate in the box (7%), warming up the bed (6%) and being quiet in the morning as you leave (5%) are also considered to be signs of true affection.

But it seems there’s no struggle to share the love when it comes to man’s best friend, as 39% of Brits tell their pets they love them on a daily basis – more than those that do the same for their mums (12%).

And we are really a nation of softies at heart, showing affection to our partners every day (44%), our parents weekly (30%) and our friends at least once a month (27%). We don’t throw the words around lightly, however, with 4 in 10 (41%) believing that saying ‘I love you’ too much devalues its meaning.

The top 10 ways Brits show their love:

  1. Spending quality time together – 46%
  2. Giving each other hugs – 46%
  3. Listening to each other’s problems – 41%
  4. Spending spare time with each other – 37%
  5. Looking after each other during illness – 37%
  6. Words of affirmation – 34%
  7. Compromising – 34%
  8. Taking part in activities they enjoy, but you don’t – 25%
  9. Buying a present for no reason – 22%
  10. Thoughtful surprises like a box of chocolates – 21%

Thorntons is helping families to ‘Pass The Love On’ this Christmas through the launch of its Continental Journeys competition, which will bring together loved ones from across the globe in time for the festive season. The competition is now open and closes at 23:59 on 12th November 2018. To enter visit

Ian Tweedale, Marketing Director of Thorntons comments: “It’s not about what’s under the Christmas tree, but about who’s around it. Our Continental Journeys competition is helping families to ‘Pass The Love On’ this Christmas, by bringing together loved ones who, for whatever reason, can’t be together during the holiday season. We’re also proud to be passing the love on to the charity SSAFA, which supports our servicemen and women, veterans and their families.”

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