Puppy love

Puppy love

Puppy love (also known as a crush or calf love or even "kitten love") is an informal term for feelings of love or infatuation felt by young people during childhood and adolescence, so-called for its resemblance to the adoring, worshipful affection that may be felt by a puppy. 'Simple infatuation is often called a "crush" or "puppy love". It commonly strikes those in the early teens or younger'.[1]

The term is often used in a derogatory fashion, describing emotions which are shallow and transient in comparison to other forms of love such as romantic love: 'calf-love...a sickly, sentimental dream which only a moonstruck fool could have created!'.[2] Sigmund Freud however was far from underestimating the power of early love; recognised the validity of 'the proverbial durability of first loves: on reviendra toujours à ses premiers amours '.[3]



Puppy love is a very widespread experience in the process of growing up, and the person who proudly boasts '"I'm never going to act like a lovesick puppy dog...over some silly girl (or boy)"'[4] may well be riding for a fall. The object of attachment may be a peer, but the term can also be used to describe the fondness of a child for an adult, for example, students being attracted to their teachers, their friends' parents, or children to older celebrities: indeed, some consider that in puppy love 'usually the object of such infatuation is some highly idealised person who is some years older - a teacher, an uncle or aunt, a friend of the family, an actor, or rock star' - and typically the sufferer 'greatly moved with emotion...spend[s] much time in daydreams and wishful fantasies'[5] about them.

On the positive side, 'Puppy love gives young people a new sense of individualism. For the first time, they love someone outside their family'.[6] Others warn however that 'the old saying may be true: "if you marry on the strength of puppy love, you'll end up leading a dog's life"'.[7]


The objection has been made that 'Terms such as "puppy love" - evoking comfortable images of innocent, loyal attachment - fail almost entirely to capture the confused, anxious and frankly miserable state that the majority of adolescents pass through'.[8]

Popular culture


Canadian singer Paul Anka released the single "Puppy Love" in 1960, reaching #2 in the Billboard Hot 100 and #33 in the UK singles charts. The lyrics relate the plight of a seventeen-year-old taunted by accusations that feelings for his/her beau are "puppy love", ending with the refrain "How can I ever tell them this is not a puppy love?" The remake by Donny Osmond peaked at US #3 in 1972.[citation needed] Country singer Dolly Parton's first single, released in the 1950s when she was a child, was also called "Puppy Love". American hip hop artist Brother Ali has also composed a song about puppy love titled "You Say (Puppy Love)".

Bow Wow released a song called Puppy Love[citation needed].

River Deep - Mountain High - 'possibly...the best pop record of all'[9] - also roots love in the image of the puppy following the object of its affections around.

American singer, Barbara Lewis in January of 1964 released her song entitled "Puppy Love", very different from Paul Anka's, more upbeat and less schmaltzy


F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote short stories 'valuing the intuitiveness of puppy love over mature, reasoned affection...[its] "unreal, undesirous medley of ecstasy and peace"'.[10]

In Anne Bishop's dark fantasy trilogy, The Black Jewels, there is an earthier meaning to 'Puppy love. It was a term...used to describe clumsy, eager young males during their first few weeks of sexual experience. For a short time, they would seek to please...[before] the novelty wore off'.[11] However, when the grim anti-heroine Surreal eventually makes a telepathic bond with a young jewelled wolf, she 'found herself smiling. She had ended up in a place where, when someone spoke of puppy love, they were talking about a real puppy'.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Ray E. Short, Sex, Love or Romance (2004) p. 16
  2. ^ Georgette Heyer, Bath Tangle (London 1974) p. 284 and p. 183
  3. ^ Sigmund Freud, On Sexuality (PFL 7) p. 67
  4. ^ Short, p. 13
  5. ^ Short, p. 16
  6. ^ M. H. Ford, Personal Power (2004) p. 124
  7. ^ Short, p. 22
  8. ^ Frank Tallis, Love Sick: Love as a Mental Illness (2005) p. 42
  9. ^ Nik Cohn, Pop from the Beginning (Herts 1973) p. 97
  10. ^ Ruth Prigozy, The Cambridge Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald (Cambridge 2002) p. 38
  11. ^ Anne Bishop, The Black Jewels (New York 2003) p. 918
  12. ^ Bishop, p. 918

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