The study, conducted by flower experts Interflora, revealed that in adult life, over a third (36%) of Yorkshire people have never said “I love you” to their father, 23% have not said the words to their mother, and over half have never told their best friend that they love them.
And on closer inspection, the research revealed that Sheffield was in fact the worst Yorkshire city when it comes to giving out meaningful sentiments, falling below average at only five occasions per month, closely followed by York and Leeds.
Just why are we so bad at telling the people we’re closest to how we feel? The research found that embarrassment (20%) holds Yorkshire people back when it comes to showing their love and appreciation, with 18% worrying that it will also embarrass the other person.
The top reasons provided by the respondents in full are:
My family just don’t talk about that sort of thing (24%)
I assume they know how I feel about them anyway (23%)
It feels too cheesy or soppy (20%)
I’m embarrassed to say how I feel (20%)
I fear it will embarrass the other person (18%)
Despite our fears, the research found that people from Yorkshire are still desperate to hear friends and family tell them that they care. Almost a quarter of respondents (24%) say that hearing a heartfelt expression of love from a friend or family member would make them feel special, with 19% saying they would reciprocate the gesture.
Giving and receiving love also brings tangible benefits; it makes us feel better, physically and mentally. When thinking of a time they had received a heartfelt gesture of love or appreciation, 42% of people said they felt happier and 33% said it increased their self-esteem.
These effects were also seen for the person giving the gesture of love. Respondents (43%) revealed it also made them feel happier when they told a friend or family member that they loved them, with over a quarter (27%) saying they felt kinder.
Erica Nicholson, Senior Brand Manager at Interflora, said: “In the UK, there’s a stereotype that we all have a stiff upper lip when it comes to showing our emotions, and we often avoid doing it altogether. However, as our research shows, people are desperate to be told they are loved by the people closest to them. Not only that, but there’s tangible benefits to both parties when it comes to sharing a heart-felt sentiment, not least when it comes to our happiness and self-esteem.
“We want to get over these barriers, and we’re calling for people to get over their embarrassment, and send more love to their friends and family members – whether it’s a grand gesture, a birthday celebration or a simple thank you to a friend. You don’t need a reason to show someone you care, and it could mean the world to them!”
Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist and Psychologist Dr Becky Spelman added: “There are real scientific reasons that explain why expressing our love for others, or hearing others express their love for us, makes us feel so much better. When we express or receive love, our bodies secrete the hormones oxytocin and serotonin. This has the overall effect of making us feel happier, more content, and more secure in our relationship. Oxytocin is the same hormone that women produce when they give birth and it plays an important role in helping them to bond with their babies—but it is also important in all our other close and loving relationships too.
“Obviously, we can tell people we love them with words—in fact, it is very important that we do so—but we can also accompany our words with little gifts that make them all the more meaningful. Not just human beings but also other animal species often bring their loved ones something that they consider beautiful to show how much they care. Throughout all of human existence, flowers have been considered things of beauty and gifts associated with love and affection. When we receive flowers, we know straight away that the message they convey is ‘I love and care about you’.”