Saying “I love you” is a big step in a relationship, so it’s important to take it seriously if someone says it to you. Think about how you feel about the person and ask yourself if you love them, too. If you do, then you might want to tell them that so they know you’re on the same page. However, if you don’t, then it’s important to be honest with them while also respecting their feelings.
1 Reflect on your feelings for the person. Consider if you love them, if you just enjoy spending time with them, or if you even see a future with the person at all. Saying “I love you” is a milestone in a relationship that indicates the person has strong feelings for you. They’ll want to know if you reciprocate those feelings. If you don’t then it’s important to be aware of that and decide how you’ll move forward from there.
For example, if you really like the person but you’re not sure if you love them, you might want to continue the relationship and see if those feelings develop over time.
However, if you have started to feel like your relationship with this person isn’t working, then it might be time to let them know this so that you can both move on.
2 Say “I love you” back to the person only if you mean it. If you love the person and feel ready to tell them that, then now is a great time to say “I love you, too!” However, it’s important to be honest if you’re not ready to say “I love you.” Even if you develop feelings of love for the person eventually, saying it before you mean it is dishonest and it could lead to problems down the road.
Never say “I love you” back if you don’t mean it because this will introduce a lie into your relationship.
Warning: Avoid saying “I love you” when you’re intoxicated. Saying “I love you” while you’re intoxicated can make it seem insincere, even if you really mean it. If you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, wait until you’re sober to say “I love you.”
3 Give a direct response to let them know if you’re not ready. If you don’t feel ready to say “I love you,” it’s fine to respond in a simple, straightforward manner. Listen to your instincts if you’re not ready to say it back and be totally honest with the person. Just make sure to be polite and considerate of their feelings.
Try saying something like, “Sorry, I’m just not ready to say that yet.”
Or, “I’m glad to know you feel that way. I’m not there yet, but I want to keep our momentum going.”
4 Tell them you value them if you’re not ready to say “I love you.” One way to respond to someone who has just said “I love you” is to focus on their positive traits and let them know that you value these things about them. Think about what you like about the person and what makes you want to spend time with them. Then, focus on these things in your response.
Try saying something like, “I’m so happy you feel that way. I enjoy spending time with you, too. You’re such a wonderful listener.”
Or you might say, “I care about you, too. You’re kind, smart, funny, and I just love spending time with you.
5 Give them a hug or a kiss if you want to. Providing a token of affection for the person is another great way to respond. You hug or kiss the person instead of responding with words. You can also add a hug or kiss if you said “I love you” back, or if you told them you don’t feel ready to say “I love you” yet. Just don’t hug or kiss the person if you are thinking of breaking up with them. This will send mixed signals, which can cause the person distress once they learn the truth.
For example, if you’ve just said “I love you, too,” then lean in for a hug or a kiss.
If you’ve just told the person that you’re not ready to say “I love you” yet and let them know that you value them and enjoy their company, you might offer a hug as a way to show you’re sincere.
If you’ve just told the person that you are not interested in continuing the relationship, then giving a hug or a kiss is not a good idea. However, you might reassure them with a less intimate physical gesture, such as a pat on the arm or back.
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