Love in Siberia - photo by SRAS Graduate Andrew William.

Russian MiniLessons: Love and Relationships

Published: October 5, 2019

The following bilingual Russian MiniLesson is meant to build your vocabulary by providing Russian phrases within English text. Hover over the bold Russian to reveal its English translation.

If a man likes a woman, he can ask of her “Давай встретимся” or, if he is more bashful, “Я хотел бы с тобой встретиться” and she will understand that he is asking her on a date. She can agree прийти на свидание. When they meet, he might pay her compliments by saying “Ты очаровательна” or, if he wanted to seem more “hip” and modern, he could say “Ты классная”. If, over time, he develops stronger feelings, he might tell her that “Ты мне очень сильно понравилась” or, if he wanted to use another common but less direct phrase he might say that, “Мне с тобой хорошо”. Of course, if he wants to get right to the point, he would say “Я в тебя влюбился”.

To describe his feelings to his friends using slang, he might say “Я по уши влюбился” or he might use the more commonly accepted phrase “Я влюбился с первого взгляда”. If the woman likes him as well, she might begin “строить глазки”, and say “Я скучаю по тебе” when he calls her. He might respond with and say “Я думаю о тебе” or even “Я тебя обожаю”.

The two might begin to refer to each other with pet names such as “солнышко”, and “милая” or “милый”.

Russian lovers don’t call each other “honey” and often think it amusing when English speakers do. They most often use the words дорогая, and милая, and very often some derivation of the word заяц (зайчик, зайчишка). More creative titles include “родная”, which comes from the same stem as “родина” and “родственник”, two of the highest valued elements in traditional Russian culture. Other terms are “солнышко”, “золотко”, and even “рыбка” (not commonly used).

Probably no one is more famous for sweet nothings in Russian than A.C. Pushkin. His best known diatribe on love starts as follows: “Я помню чудное мгновение: / Передо мной явилась ты, / Как мимолетное видение, / Как гений чистой красоты.”. Most of Pushkin’s poems on the subject juxtapose love and sorrow. Take, for example, “Унынья моего / Ничто не мучит, не тревожит, / И сердце вновь горит и любит – оттого, / Что не любить оно не может”.

The man might decide one day to tell the woman “Жить без тебя не могу” or “Я люблю тебя больше всего на свете”. He might simply say “Ты мне нужна” and she will understand that he feels that he needs her in his life always.

At this time, the man might decide that it is time to “сделать предложение”. He might say, after repeating much of the above phrases, “Выходи за меня замуж” or he might use “Будь моей женой”, which is more common and pithier.

Later on, if their family is happy, people can say about them “Они живут душа в душу”, meaning that they live in perfect harmony, that they are soul mates. People may also say simply “У них счастливая семья”. He might call he by more mature terms of endearment such as “моя половинка” or “родная”, which means “darling” but also implies “my home” or “my own place, where I am meant to be”. She can call him “моя опора”, meaning that she can rely on him for anything.

Although many Russians are beginning to adopted more western-oriented values in this regard, most Russians believe that ideal home is one in which the wife “обеспечивает хороший тыл”, to which the man will always “летит домой как на крыльях”.

About the author

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov leads SRAS' Research Services, performing remote archive research and consultations for researchers around the globe. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He also studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and taught Russian at West Virginia University. As a journalist, he has reported in both Russian and English language outlets and has years of archival research experience. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the “real Russia” which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei also contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS Family of Sites.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

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Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson

Josh lived in Moscow from 2003, when he first arrived to study Russian with SRAS, until 2022. He holds an M.A. in Theatre and a B.A. in History from Idaho State University, where his masters thesis was written on the political economy of Soviet-era censorship organs affecting the stage. At SRAS, Josh assists in program development and leads our Internship Programs. He is also the editor-in-chief for the SRAS newsletter, the SRAS Family of Sites, and Vestnik. He has previously served as Communications Director to Bellerage Alinga and has served as a consultant or translator to several businesses and organizations with interests in Russia.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

View all posts by: Josh Wilson