When the object of the verb is a person, 爱 ài usually refers to romantic love. When used like this, older Mandarin speakers often describe the use of this term as overly 肉麻 (ròumá, adj. something that gives you the creeps, extremely melodramatic). For this reason, the word trad.喜歡, simpl.喜欢 (xǐhuān, to like) might be used instead. The word 喜欢 xǐhuān literally means "to like", but when used in a romantic context, can (but does not always) mean "to love." However, Mandarin speakers born since the 1970s are now using the verb 爱 ài much more often than was socially acceptable in the past.