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Monday, 8 February, 1999, 04:47 GMT
Men missing out on romance
Holding hands, but does she tell him she loves him?
Men are less likely to be told "I love you" by their partners, although they want to hear the words just as much as women, say two leading charities.

A Valentine's Day survey by Samaritans and Relate shows that 65% of men had said "I love you" to a partner, compared with only 49% of women.

It also found that a small proportion of the 1,000 people surveyed were more likely to tell their pets they loved them than their male relatives.

The charities believes openly expressing romantic feelings could have a significant effect on relationships and mental health.

Three-quarters of suicide attempts are put down to relationship problems and young people account for two thirds of would-be suicides.

Although teenage women are still the most likely to try to take their lives, the number of men aged between 15 and 24 attempting suicide has risen by almost 200% in the last decade.

Crisis support

The survey was released as actress Helen Baxendale spearheads the launch of a campaign aimed at encouraging people to wear their hearts on their sleeves - and cut soaring suicide rates among the young.

The star of Friends and Cold Feet has been chosen to model a white T-shirt, featuring a tattoo-style Take Heart logo on the sleeve and numbers for Relate and the Samaritans on the inside label.

Both Relate, which offers relationship counselling, and The Samaritans, who provide support for people in crisis, say young people are less likely than older people to use their services.

Ms Baxendale said: "Relationship difficulty is one of the strongest factors in suicide attempts. And young men, in particular, shy away from seeking help with such problems. But many relationships can be prevented from breaking down if help is sought.

"Good love and romance aren't always what the hype cracks them up to be. Valentine's Day isn't always as much fun as many of us would like."

Less romantic

The survey also found that young people were less likely to be romantic than their parents.

Only 51% of young people surveyed said they had last said "I love you" to their partner.

This compared with 69% of 45- to 54-year-olds.

Almost one-fifth of the people asked could not remember the last time they said "I love you" and only 19% had said it and meant it.

A quarter did not know why they had said it.

Love in a brothel

However, many people had uttered the three words spontaneously.

Only 2% of men admitted to saying "I love you" to get a woman into bed, fewer than those who said they did it to get a present or a favour.

And 1% of men said they last said "I love you" in a brothel.

Simon Armson, chief executive of The Samaritans, said: "All of us, especially young people, should be encouraged to express our feelings freely. Hang-ups about emotional expression can cause a lot of damage."

Sarah Bowler of Relate added that sharing feelings was vital for a healthy relationship and kept the communication lines open.

See also:

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