The Punctuation Guide of Love


Which Mark Best Suits Your Relationship?

Photo Credit: Kelly Sikkema

There are many who have found their loves of a lifetime, their partners and soul mates. Yet, there are just as many (maybe more) seekers on a quest, whether active or passive, for unrequited, true, romantic love.

Most of us have experienced love, yet everlasting love has eluded us. If you’re in this particular “us,” this article is for you.

The Punctuation Marks of Love

I believe love has four primary punctuation marks in its language, the exclamation mark, the question mark, the comma and the period.

Let’s commence with a relationship punctuation evaluation. Start with the person you’re seeing right now. You may be in the relationship’s infancy or in a long-term established situation. If you internally write your name and his/her name across your heart, which of the four love punctuation marks do you feel inspired to use? Is it the exclamation mark? Read on for more.

Exclamation Mark

Photo Credit: Brian Goff

Entrepreneur Derek Sivers presents in his e-book “Hell Yeah or No, What’s Worth Doing,” counsel on how to make decisions. He purports that either you’re into something or not. It’s just that simple. Either you’re all in, or you’re not. There is no gray area. Writer Mark Manson posits further on this concept and says “You don’t marry someone because it seems like the right thing to do. You marry them because you can’t [bleeping] imagine ever not wanting to be with them.” Acknowledging that you may not feel love at first sight, and that things take time to grow, still, “both you and the other person need to be “* — yes about something (and it must be the same thing), otherwise you’re just wasting your time.”

The exclamation mark is your heart bursting at the seams with love and butterflies for your beloved. You just KNOW that this person is “The One.” You think of your beloved all the time, can’t wait to see him or her, mention their name constantly and long to be near them.

If this is your case, I am delighted for you, and wish you all the best of love and growth with your loved one. Wish the rest of us luck…please.

Photo Credit: Jon Tyson

Question Mark

Ok, so you like the person enough. Think there is some potential, BUT, there are a few areas you’re trying to figure out. Maybe you’re curious about how they earn a living, how many children they have, if they want kids, if they will be able to tolerate your quirks and habits, if they have an STD or a prison record — (yes, all the joys of dating). Maybe you’ve seen flashes of different values or poor behavior, and question if he or she is a good person. Suffice it to say you’re in the question mark phase.

If in this phase, do carry on with bridled curiosity to allow the answers to reveal themselves naturally vs forced inquisitions. We know you need “to know” to avoid wasting your time, but enjoy the process of getting to know this person, and equally as important, what you like too.


Perhaps you’re like me and have a relationship that you have been back and forth over a span of years. There is one relationship where you’ve loved and lost, picked up and put down, only to repeat the cycle over and over again. The comma marks this relationship.

A comma by its very nature, connects a beginning and middle, before it often sluggishly arrives at its end. Commas are known for run-on sentences, which can be messy. Until you can get to a complete statement (a full stop), with either a positive or negative ending, many of our relationships, especially those involving children, family, loved ones and years, include many commas (and likely the comma’s auntie the semicolon).

If in this phase, we invite you to do whatever you have to do to figure out why you can’t feel clear? Why are you uncomfortable walking valiantly through that relationship door, or closing it forever? What do you truly fear would happen if you followed either course? If fear is present, is it validated by previous behavior or imagined in your mind to mitigate relationship risk?

I’ll be honest with you. I recently closed a swinging door after two and a half years. And it hurt — then and now. But, my relationship evaluation helped me to understand why it was in the best interest of us both to crawl away. Making difficult decisions is never easy, but the peace of mind which succeeds such eventually offers a balm to your heart.


iStock Photo

And alas, we have the period. In defining the role of a period in grammar punctuation, Writer Joe Moran says, “The period offers (the reader) relief, allowing her to close the circle of meaning and take a mental breath. He further states “Periods give writing its rhythm. They come in different places, cutting off short and long groups of words, varying the cadences — those drops in pitch at the sentence’s end which signal that the sentence and its sentiment are done.” Are you?

The purpose of a period is to allow us a moment to breathe, which is what I desire for myself and for every person reading this. I would never ask you to force the period, but rather to allow yourself to feel how you really feel, and decide if you need to continue or stop where you are in your relationship.

Is your relationship healthy and edifying? Do you get enough love? Are you well fed by love? Is your soul nourished?

Only you know the answers to these questions.

But to you my friend, above all else, we wish you self-love to do an honest relationship punctuation evaluation. We also wish you self-grace, whether your relationship is in an exclamation mark, question mark or comma phase, as you find your way to the peace of your personal period. Because as our beloved Author bell hooks declares, “We still believe in love’s promise.” So, stay up.

Namaste. Olivia



The O Blog | Marketing POV by Olivia F. Scott

Olivia is a C-Suite Marketing Exec & Founder. An NYU & Loyola Professor, she has led mktg at Carol's Daughter, VIBE, Live Nation, Ogilvy & more for 25+ years.