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My girlfriend said for the first time "Ich hab dich lieb", but I didn't understand the whole sentence very well, I only heard something with "lieb". So I asked her to repeat, but then she was kind of shy and said such thing couldn't be repeated. So after I insisted a bit she repeated it. And then I asked her if that meant the same as "Ich liebe dich", and she said yes. But I was not really convinced.
So, can "Ich hab dich lieb" mean the same as "Ich liebe dich" or not at all? Can it depend on the region of the person?

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    If she says it's supposed to mean "ich liebe ich" and is quite shy, why not take her word for it? "Ich liebe dich" is in theory a notch stronger, but there are no hard and fast rules with love and language. – Stephie Dec 17 '15 at 9:42
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    I say "ich habe dich lieb" to my sister and "Ich liebe dich" to my girlfriend.. – VP. Dec 17 '15 at 11:01
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    The fact that the other question has attracted 17 answers goes to show that this is indeed a difficult issue - as does the fact that you're obviously not quite satisfied with these answers. Thing is, it all depends. The regional aspect is in fact very important with this phrase. To many Bavarians, for example, "Ich liebe dich" would sound painfully cringeworthy, unnatural and wrong - it's just not used. (Possibility: your gf said it, but liteally couldn't bring herself to repeat it without seriously pulling the embarrassment muscle.) Relax and take her word for it :) – Mac Dec 17 '15 at 12:01
  • If you want to express it in a right way, say : "I mog die" – Max Muster Dec 17 '15 at 14:00
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"Ich hab dich lieb" can mean both ones, the stronger "Ich liebe dich" or an intermediate thing between that and "I like you / Ich mag dich". It depends on your girlfriend which one she's referring to... For example, she could simply have used this phrase for not overstressing the "I love you".

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