I personally think that a lot of people overuse the word "love". It's certainly a shorter way to say "have feelings for" which I think is more accurate for the purposes of shipping because its scope of meaning allows for any strength of feeling. Also, strength of meaning of the word "love" has definitely decreased over time. Its almost become like the word "hate". Hate in and of itself is a powerful concept that describes, or at least should describe only the strongest feelings of animosity. Nowadays, people throw around the word like it simply means "dislike". A lot of words that once held a lot of power have lost their gravitas to overuse and the desensitization that results from it. Then again, what power or meaning does a word have other than its perceived power or meaning. So to someone who has been desensitized, there really is no difference, as their perception could be such that "love" could mean any level of feeling.
Herein lies our problem: there are different perceptions of the meaning of the word "love". In my opinion, this is one of the fundamental problems with communication, that is, the subjectivity of meaning. So in effect, perhaps those people that Donphampharos is questioning, could very well mean when they say "A is in love with B" that "A has a crush on B". There's really no way to be sure what exactly they mean in this day and age.
Hakajin also brings up a good point in that the nature of the situation that the characters are in is something of which we have little or no experience, so indeed some of the outcomes of such a situation could seem odd to us (like two 11 year olds falling in love). And I definitely agree that the divide between love and friendship is in flux, for what its worth.
What I can say to answer the question is that at least I don't think of the characters as they are in the show as being in love and that Donphampharos's problem with shippers is probably due to ill defined terms.
I am a nerd.
I am proud of this. If you don't like it, that's too bad, 'cuz I'm not changing anytime soon.
Oh, and I support Pokeshipping. Years of introspection has yet to give me a full answer as to why, but I do support it, and I will support it on some level until the day I can no longer form coherent thoughts.