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They offered strangers $5 to tell someone they loved them. What people did was even better.

$5 I love you, love, phone call

They were offered $5 to call someone and tell them they loved them, but got a much better reward.

How often do you let your loved ones know you love them? How often do you verbalize it?

Some people have no problem telling people they love that they love them. Friends, family, romantic partners—everyone gets an "I love you!" on the regular. Others have a much harder time saying the words, even when they feel them. Perhaps they didn't grow up hearing love being spoken out loud much or at all. Maybe they've been hurt by those who were supposed to love them, so the word feels complicated.

Plenty of us neglect to tell people how we feel out of fear, embarrassment, busyness or the assumption that our feelings are already understood. But expressing love to our loved ones is a beautiful thing. Who doesn't appreciate being told that they are loved? Even if it's uncomfortable to say or hear sometimes, giving and receiving love is a vital part of the human experience—one that we should never take for granted.

So what would happen if you were to incentivize people to tell someone they loved them? That's exactly the experiment TikTok user @toachieveyou conducted, standing on a street corner with a sign that said, "Call someone and tell them you love them for $5."


They credited the idea to Are You Kidding TV, and the deal was you had to call someone on speaker and tell them you love them in exchange for $5. That's it. Super simple.

What happened was so much better.

@toachieveyou

Why do you guys think they turned down the money? | idea from @areyoukiddingtv ❤️ | @ledariusjoshua @brandnrode @kye_man

The phone calls themselves were sweet. The first guy's loved one seemed to be worried that something was wrong. Unfortunately, some people calling simply to say "I love you" could be a red flag that they aren't doing well and are considering doing something drastic. The video creators said they've seen that kind of reaction a lot with these calls. But after being reassured that the guy was fine and truly just calling to say "I love you," the man on the other end reciprocated and that was that.

But the guy returning the $5 was the sweetest part. And when the oh-so-very-tall guy called his mom and then did the same thing? That's when the point really hit home.

The call itself was the reward.

It's not necessarily that calling their person to say "I love you" was hard for these guys—they may have just thought it would be an easy way to make $5. But taking money for something that had such enormous intrinsic reward probably didn't feel right in the end. Or perhaps the call itself felt so good they wanted to pass along that positive mojo to someone else. Either way, the reaction was so pure and wholesome.

It might seem obvious to people who express love easily, but for those who don't, there are good reasons to try. According to Florida International University psychologist Lisa Arango, words of love are like oxygen in a relationship. "Telling somebody you love them feeds the relationship, keeps it alive," she says.

There are lots of ways to say "I love you" without words, and showing our love through our actions is important too. But there truly is something wonderful about saying and hearing it.

As one commenter wrote, "Sometimes we just need a reminder that we don’t need materialistic things but just a simple I love you."

"When you make that call and realize it meant more than $5 ever could, gotta love it," wrote another.

Some people lamented that their parent or friend was no longer here to call, which only drives the point further home. Call your people and tell them you love them. Don't hesitate or overthink or put it off. Don't make it more complicated than it is. The more we normalize telling people we love that we love them, the more we strengthen our bonds with others and create a more connected world.

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