Saying “I love you” is a big step in a relationship, so if someone says it to you, take it seriously. Consider how you feel about the person and whether or not you love them. If you do, you should tell them so they know you’re on the same page. If you don’t, it’s critical to be honest with them while also respecting their feelings.
Method 1: Selecting an Appropriate Reaction
1. Consider your feelings for the person. Consider whether you love them, whether you simply enjoy spending time with them, or whether you see a future with the person at all. Saying “I love you” is a relationship milestone that indicates the other person has strong feelings for you. They’ll want to know if you share their feelings. If you don’t, it’s important to be aware of this and decide how you’ll proceed from there.
For example, if you like someone but aren’t sure if you love them, you might want to keep the relationship going and see if those feelings develop over time.
However, if you have begun to feel that your relationship with this person isn’t working, it may be time to tell them so that you can both move on.
2. Only say “I love you” back to the person if you truly mean it. If you love someone and are ready to tell them, now is a great time to say, “I love you, too!” However, if you aren’t ready to say “I love you,” it’s important to be honest. Even if you eventually develop feelings for the person, saying it before you mean it is dishonest and could lead to problems down the road.
If you say “I love you” when you don’t mean it, you’re introducing a lie into your relationship.
When you’re intoxicated, avoid saying “I love you.” Even if you truly mean it, saying “I love you” while intoxicated can make it appear insincere. Wait until you’re sober to say “I love you” if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
3. If you are unable to respond directly, let them know. If you don’t feel ready to say “I love you,” it’s okay to respond in a straightforward, simple manner. If you’re not ready to say it back and be completely honest with the person, trust your instincts. Just remember to be courteous and considerate of their feelings.
Try something like, “I’m sorry, but I’m just not ready to say that yet.”
Or, “I’m glad you feel that way.” I’m not quite there yet, but I’d like to keep the momentum going.”
4. If you’re not ready to say “I love you,” tell them you appreciate them. One way to respond to someone who has just said “I love you” is to focus on their positive qualities and let them know how much you appreciate them. Consider what you like about the person and what entices you to spend time with them. Then, in your response, emphasise these points.
Try something like, “I’m so glad you feel that way.” I, too, enjoy spending time with you. You’re such a good listener.”
You could also say, “I care about you, too.” You’re nice, smart, and funny, and I enjoy spending time with you.”
5. If you want, give them a hug or a kiss. Another excellent way to respond is to give the person a token of affection. Instead of responding with words, you hug or kiss the person. If you said “I love you” back, or if you told them you aren’t ready to say “I love you,” you can add a hug or kiss. Just don’t hug or kiss the person if you’re about to break up with them. This sends mixed signals, which can cause distress once the person discovers the truth.
For instance, if you’ve just said, “I love you, too,” lean in for a hug or kiss.
If you’ve just told the person that you’re not ready to say “I love you,” but that you value them and enjoy their company, you might offer a hug to demonstrate your sincerity.
If you’ve just told the person that you don’t want to continue the relationship, hugging or kissing them is not a good idea. You could reassure them, however, with a less intimate physical gesture, such as a pat on the arm or back.
Method 2: Reaction to the Situation
1. If you don’t say “I love you,” expect some disappointment. If you do not reciprocate after saying “I love you,” the person may appear disappointed or even embarrassed. This is completely normal. It’s okay to feel empathy for them, but don’t feel obligated to say “I love you” or guilty for being open about your feelings. Allow them a moment to process their emotions before responding.
You could even offer to give them some privacy if they appear depressed or embarrassed. Try something like, “I’m sorry if that came as a surprise. If you need a moment alone, I can leave and we can talk later.”
Even if the person is very sad and begins to cry, avoid apologising for your feelings or backpedalling. This will only aggravate the situation. Instead, let them know you’re there and tell them what you like about them again. Try saying something like, “I’m still here, and I’m not leaving unless you want me to.” I meant it when I said I enjoyed spending time with you.”
2. Keep an eye out for extreme reactions, such as anger. It is normal for someone to feel sad, disappointed, or even embarrassed if you do not reciprocate their feelings, but it is not normal for them to respond with rage or anger. If the person begins to yell, storms out, throws or breaks something, or becomes physically aggressive towards you, leave immediately and keep a safe distance from them. All of these reactions are red flags that the person may become abusive to you.
If the person becomes violent or aggressive toward you while you are alone with them, call 911.
3. Accept that everyone in a relationship moves at their own pace. Even if your significant other has already declared their love for you, this does not imply that you must reciprocate in order for the relationship to continue. You may require additional time, which is perfectly acceptable! It is normal for people in a relationship to move at different speeds. Take your time, and don’t say “I love you” until you’re truly ready.
For example, your significant other may be ready to say “I love you” after only three months of dating, whereas you may need four months or longer.
You should be aware that you may never feel the same way about them as they do about you. Respect your true feelings and end the relationship if this is the case.
4. Do something enjoyable to commemorate the occasion. If you responded positively after the person said, “I love you,” it might be a good idea to do something fun to remember the occasion. Take a walk together, watch a romantic movie together, or do something else you both enjoy. If you did not reciprocate and do not intend to continue the relationship, you may want to do the opposite and spend some time alone.
If you want to remember the occasion, say something like, “Let’s go do something fun!” “Would you like to see a movie?”
If you need some alone time, try saying something like, “Sorry, but I have to go.” Let’s talk about it again tomorrow, okay?”
Creative Commons License