Feliz Dia de San Valentin! Any unique expressions used in Spain to express love or endearment? Gracias!
(Gods, I let some of those asks pile up quite a bit, huh? ^^U)
My strongest advice is to beware of te amo as most Latin American books and teachers would have you say.
In Spain this is seen as extravagantly poetic. When people mock soap operas they usually say stuff like
¡oh, te amo tanto Mario Francisco José Juan!
since a) Latin American soap operas are the go-to dramatic and over the top standard, and b) most of Latin America says te amo, which we don’t, and c) Latin Americans tend to have more than two names, which is the usual maximum in Spain.
So, if you don’t want to turn your cute moment of love into a cheap romantic show, what you should say in Spain for “I love you” is, of course, te quiero. This is used for your family, very close friends —mostly amongst girls— and your SO. We make no difference. We love everybody equally!
Here’s a bonus very well known rhyme to excuse my tardiness:
Te quiero mucho, como la trucha al trucho [y el helado al cucurucho]
I love you a lot, like the [female] trout [loves] the [male] trout [and the ice cream loves the cone]
Originally published in Talk like a Spaniard.