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The most romantic ways to say 'I love you', from the romance experts

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

Valentine's Day is just a few days away. Trying to figure out how to tell your honey how much you love them? Well, movies can help, maybe.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JERRY MAGUIRE")

TOM CRUISE: (As Jerry Maguire) You complete me.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "NOTTING HILL")

JULIA ROBERTS: (As Anna Scott) And don't forget I'm also just a girl standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CASABLANCA")

INGRID BERGMAN: (As Ilsa Lund) But what about us?

HUMPHREY BOGART: (As Rick Blaine) We'll always have Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WHEN HARRY MET SALLY")

BILLY CRYSTAL: (As Harry Burns) I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

ELLIOTT: But this is NPR. We have to consult the experts. Novelist Allycie Rye loves this section from Mary Oliver's poem Coming Home, she says it sums up how it feels when the world isn't quite a right fit for you, but you are the right fit for your special person.

ALLYCIA RYE: (Reading) And what we see is a world that cannot cherish us but which we cherish. And what we see is our life moving like that along the dark edges of everything, headlights sweeping the blackness, believing in a thousand fragile and unprovable things.

ELLIOTT: Lovely but maybe a little long? How about this?

CASEY MCQUISTON: (Reading) You pierce my soul.

ELLIOTT: That's romantic comedy writer Casey McQuiston, quoting from Jane Austen's novel "Persuasion."

MCQUISTON: I think that is absolutely devastating in the most wonderful way.

ELLIOTT: For a lot of our experts, love really means what you do or say in the moment. John Paul Brammer writes the column Hola Papi on Substack.

JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I mean, for me, the most romantic thing you can possibly do is tell me that you picked up food for me and that it's waiting back home. Oh, my goodness. I would melt.

ELLIOTT: Allycia Rye remembers when her partner said the perfect thing at the perfect time.

RYE: We had kind of a tumultuous birth and labor and everything. And he just looked at me, and he said, wow, you are, like, the toughest person I have ever met in my life. And I thought that was wildly romantic.

AMANDA MORRIS: I was interviewing a couple where the woman in the relationship was very, very sick.

ELLIOTT: Amanda Morris is a disability reporter for The Washington Post.

MORRIS: One of the first things her partner said to her was, I'm here for you. Like, I'm not going anywhere. That's, like, so powerful because he could have said, shall I compare thee to a summer's day? And yada yada yada. And no offense to Shakespeare here, but, like, just simply stating what your intentions are and how you actually feel about somebody is just, I think, the most powerful thing you can do.

ELLIOTT: It is. And you can still quote Shakespeare if you'd like. Or you can channel Nicolas Cage from Casey McQuiston's favorite movie, "Moonstruck."

MCQUISTON: I love you not like they told you love is. Love don't make things nice. It ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. And this is my favorite part. We aren't here to make things perfect.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MOONSTRUCK")

NICOLAS CAGE: (As Ronny Cammareri) Not us, not us. We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. I mean, the storybooks are [expletive]. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and get in my bed.

ELLIOTT: So have a happy Valentine's Day, no matter how you say it or what you do about it.

(SOUNDBITE OF DICK HYMAN'S "(FINALE) CANZONE PER LORETTA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.