Liebhaber. What a beautiful word. Or at least I thought it was until an embarrassing situation with the German boyfriend happened recently.

Marco and I recently played the computer game Spore together. In the game, you can choose to make your character an aggressive killing machine by killing all other species. You can choose to be a peaceful ruler by simply studying the other species. Or you can choose to be something in the middle.

We had already played through the game once, and our character ended up somewhere in the middle. Since it was pretty fun, I wanted to play it through again, but instead get each of the other scenarios.

So, I told Marco that he can play as a Mörder (murderer) and I would play as a Liebhaber.

You see, Liebhaber is a compound word composed of Lieb (Liebe = Love) and Haber (“Have-er,” like someone that has something). Love-Haver.

“You’re going to play as a what?!” Marco replied in a tone of voice I wasn’t expecting.

“A Liebhaber!”

“What do you think that word means?”

Like most new words I hear in German, I had simply guessed the meaning from its root words. Although, as I had already experienced with the word vermöbeln, this method is not very reliable.

Anyways, I don’t always learn from my mistakes, and I had interpreted Liebhaber as “love-haver” – like someone who has a lot of love for something. Like a philanthropist or peacemaker.

I was wrong.

“A Liebhaber is a lover – like someone a married person has an affair with,” Marco explained.

Oh… that’s not what I meant.

P.S. I did look it up myself, and Liebhaber can also mean “enthusiast” (not just lover). But anyways, that is also not what I meant.