Why is it so hard for Moroccans to say «I love you» ?

By using some words and expressions and not others, or through euphemism, some Moroccans seem to find it hard to express their love and affection for others. This conclusion can be blamed on several sociological factors, according to experts.

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February the 14th is a yearly opportunity for lovers to say, «I love you» to one another. While some get creative during this day, others are still trying to figure out how to voice their feelings. Moroccans tend to be in the second category, struggling to express feelings of love or playing with words and expressions to say so.

To psycho-sociologist Mohcine Benzakour, Moroccans rarely use the word «kanhabbak (I love you) and tend to rely on ‘kanbghik’ (I want you) instead». Citing the studies he has done in the past about the topic, the researcher believes that «Moroccans have not been able to learn how to express their feelings at home and with their parents».

«Even when we want to express our feelings, we feel pressured by society. For instance, we think that a real man cannot say to his wife ‘I love you’ because it would make him less of a man and that explains why most of our relationships are based on customs and traditions instead of love».

Mohcine Benzakour

«It is true that Moroccans find it difficult to express their feelings. This does not mean that they have never experienced love», said Moroccan sociologist and anthropologist Chakib Guessouss. To him, the only problem is that «the manifestation of love is not very visible in Morocco as in other societies».

Voicing love

To explain this, Chakib Guessouss insists on education. «We were brought up in a culture where even when parents love each other very much, they don't show it, because it is considered ‘Hchouma’, i.e. inappropriate». However, the situation has slightly changed because «unlike our ancestors, the new generations have evolved, by expressing their feelings», he argued.

Benzakour who believes that «we are becoming more and more cultured and we are starting to use terms, although that remains very limited, that voice our feelings», shares the same idea. Yet, «we can still feel a bit of embarrassment when uttering the word 'I love you'».

Benzakour explains that this change is related to the popularization of love. «There are more ads, more online presence, and more movies about love. We were influenced by this culture somewhere but we did not adopt it socially. This is why we only sense this among a specific category; cultured youth», he added.

Chakib Guessouss explains this evolution differently. «Today, more than before, couples know each other before marriage, unlike in the past when we learned to love each other after traditional marriages», he recalls. Thus, «people are choosing their significant others now and love them before marriage», he added.

«There are also people who love each other but do not think of getting married, as it is a difficult and above all an expensive adventure today. Valentine's Day is therefore an opportunity to renew attachment and love and to express it».

Chakib Guessous

Family and love

These difficulties in expressing love affect our children, who do not learn how to voice their feelings, neither at school nor within their families. «At school, we don't allow our children to have love debates. And since there is no clear love expressions at home between the parents, children will never learn how to express their emotions», Benzakour explains.

This is also the reason why «teenage years are very difficult for our children, because we do not accept that they talk about love and their first kiss», he added.

Is this also worrying for children? «No, because fortunately there is internet and social media where they can express themselves better and discover new things. There is also other platforms which allow them to see and understand certain things, such as TV and cinema», answers the psycho-sociologist.

«We are becoming more of a business than a family: we are there to eat and to go to school but we never feel that there is this warm and loving relationship that goes beyond what is physical».

Mohcine Benzakour

For Mohcine Benzakour, the Moroccan society «unfortunately has not yet achieved unconditional love within families», with individuals still trying to «hide their emotions».