What does it mean to tell someone you love them? Well, it depends on who you ask!
If romantic comedies have taught us anything it is that people have different thresholds of feeling that must be met before they are ready to say the L-word.
Some people seem to say it after just a few weeks, while other people take months and months until they feel comfortable expressing that much affection.
All of this is completely fine! People are different. Honesty in relationships builds better connections, so all that matters is that you are clear with your partner about how you feel.
However, what happens when there is a mismatch of feeling? What do you do if the person you are seeing tells you they love you when you don’t feel that level of emotion for them yet?
Well, here are a few ways you could respond.
25 ways to respond to “I love you” when you are not ready
- Wow, I’m really touched that you feel that strongly about me.
- I’m loving getting to know you.
- You just get better and better.
- I can’t wait to see what our future holds.
- I really like you; I’m just not sure I’m quite ready to say “I love you” yet.
- I feel very strongly about you to, but I’m going to need a little bit more time before I say the L-word.
- You are so important to me. I can’t imagine what I would do if you weren’t in my life.
- The last few months have been so wonderful.
- I still can’t believe you’re real.
- How are you so perfect?
- Do you really? That means the world to me. I’ve been let down in the past, so it takes me a long time to take down my walls, but I’m definitely falling for you.
- I love how confidently you say that. I’m really touched that you feel comfortable being vulnerable with me.
- Thank you for being so open about your feelings.
- You’re one of the good ones, you know that?
- I really appreciate you saying that. My feelings are growing fast and I’m sure I’ll feel the same in no time.
- That’s a big word. Are you sure?
- Woah, easy tiger. We don’t actually know each other that well.
- I think you might be confusing love and lust.
- “I love you” isn’t a pickup line. Are you sure you mean that?
- I mean, I’ve really enjoyed the dates we’ve been on, but I feel like it’s a little soon for that word. Are you sure you really mean that?
- Really? Because I feel like I’m just getting to know you.
- I think we might be on slightly different pages here. I’m nowhere near love with this.
- Are you sure you don’t mean that you have a crush on me?
- I mean, I like you, but love is huge word.
- That’s such a big commitment. Are you sure you want to say that to me?
If someone tells you they love you very early on, how you respond is going to depend entirely on what you do feel for them.
If you have a huge crush but feel like it would be too hasty to jump straight in with an “I love you too,” or an “I love you more,” take things slow but be encouraging.
However, if you feel almost immediately that this person is not right for you, you can push back a little harder and think about winding down the relationship.
If you feel like the person you’re seeing isn’t being honest about their feelings, you can query whether they really mean what they’ve just said. However, be tactful and make sure you aren’t offending them by calling them dishonest.
Here’s how to respond to “I love you” when you aren’t ready to say it back just yet, and how to respond to it when you aren’t sure you’ll ever be ready.
How to respond to “I love you” when you are not ready…yet
Imagine you’ve been seeing someone for a few weeks or months. You both clearly like each other and harbor hopes that that your dates will turn into a relationship. Then, out of the blue, they tell you they love you.
While you also have feelings for this person and are probably happy to hear them tell you how much they like you, you may still feel a little taken aback by how quickly they’ve said the L-word.
If you aren’t ready to say, “I love you” back, but don’t want to dash the hopes of the person you’re seeing, try to express honestly how what they’ve said makes you feel.
Don’t feel intimidated if it feels difficult to know what to respond. Deciding how to respond to “I love you” the first time is always a nerve-wracking experience, even when you are in love.
If you want to keep getting to know the person who has told you they love you, let them know that while you aren’t quite ready to say you’re in love with them, you are loving getting to know them.
Wow, I’m really touched that you feel that strongly about me.
Whether or not you feel ready to tell someone you love them, being told “I love you” is a big deal. The person you’re seeing could be calling you cute over text and instead they’re out here talking love.
Out of all the people in the world, they have chosen you to dedicate their entire romantic affection to.
But saying “I love you” goes even beyond that. To say you love someone is essentially to say that you will do absolutely anything for them and that their needs and desires are your priority.
Given the weight of this statement, it is only natural that you would feel touched by it. Just because you’re surprised to hear that someone loves you because you yourself aren’t ready to say it, doesn’t mean it can’t be just as moving as it is to hear “I love you” when you are ready to say it back.
Focus on the positives and tell the person professing their love to you that you are deeply affected by their words.
I’m loving getting to know you.
When two people are almost ready to say, “I love you” to one another, they often spend a bit of time dancing around the words before finally coming out and saying them.
We’ve all seen movies where a character begins, “I love…” then realizes what they are saying, and lamely ends with “spending time with you,” or even something as basic as “your hair.”
However, while these moments can seem a little embarrassing when it is obvious what the person really means, you can also use this tactic to your advantage if someone tells you they love you before you’re ready to say it back.
You can mirror the statement, “I love you,” by saying, “I’m loving getting to know you.” This gets across the message that you also have very strong feelings without committing you to something you aren’t sure you feel yet.
You just get better and better.
Most people don’t need their partner to respond, “I love you too,” or even “I love you 3000” the first time they say, “I love you.”
Respectful adults understand that everyone moves at their own pace in relationships. Some people even choose to say, “I love you” when they know their partner isn’t ready to say it back.
They feel it is important not to keep such strong emotions to themselves and want to let their partner know what page they’re on. They maturely recognize that their partner may need more time before saying, “I love you” back.
If you have a partner like this, who maybe even goes out of their way to assure you that there is no rush for you to say it back, telling them they get better and better is the perfect response.
While a partner who tells you they love you may not need you to say it back, it will make them happy to know that you think the relationship is continuing to improve.
I can’t wait to see what our future holds.
One natural reaction to someone telling you they love you is to wonder whether this will be the person you spend the rest of your life with.
After all, “I love you” is a big statement. Most people only fall in love a few times in their whole lives. Saying, “I love you” is effectively saying, “at this point in time, I think I want to be with you forever.”
So, if hearing “I love you” makes you excited about the future, even though you aren’t ready to fully reciprocate the sentiment, tell your partner you’re looking forward to seeing what will happen between you down the line.
This will reassure them that you are in this relationship for the long haul too.
I really like you; I’m just not sure I’m quite ready to say “I love you” yet.
Some people are just more direct than others.
People who are shy or who tend to back away from any kind of discomfort or confrontation prefer to avoid addressing the elephant in the room when someone they don’t yet love tells them they love them.
However, the call-it-like-it-is guys and gals will come right out and say something like the response given above.
This is straight to the point and simple. If someone tells you they love you and you aren’t ready to say it back, tell the person you’re speaking to that you like them but don’t yet feel ready to say those three big words.
I feel very strongly about you to, but I’m going to need a little bit more time before I say the L-word.
This is another example of how to respond to “I love you” if you don’t feel the same that doesn’t beat around the bush.
This is the perfect thing to say when you feel fairly confident that you will eventually be ready to tell the person in front of you that you love them.
You are so important to me. I can’t imagine what I would do if you weren’t in my life.
There are different ways to express love. In the 21st century we’ve all gotten relatively good at expressing our emotions and talking about our feelings.
But think back even just one or two generations and you will surely be able to picture a love language that looks a little different.
Many of our grandparents didn’t necessarily coo about each other over the dinner table, but they demonstrated their love by helping each other get organized to leave the house, cooking each other food, or turning on each other’s favorite TV show in the evening.
Similarly, you don’t have to say, “I love you” to say “I love you” when the words feel too intimidating.
Instead, tell the person professing their love that you can’t imagine what you would do if they weren’t in your life. Let’s be honest, they’ll get the message.
The last few months have been so wonderful.
Again, words don’t always have to explicitly spell out what you feel to be powerful. If you aren’t sure whether you love someone and they tell you they love you, you shouldn’t feel pressure to describe your emotional state.
Instead, just say something kind and true. If you have had the time of your life since getting to know someone, tell them you have had a wonderful few months.
I still can’t believe you’re real.
Expressing disbelief about the fact that someone is real is a clear indication of being highly interested in them.
What you’re essentially saying is that they seem too good to be true. They will surely be happy to hear this in response to “I love you.”
How are you so perfect?
This is another sweet response to “I love you” when you aren’t ready to say it back.
This communicates that while you aren’t ready to say, “I love you too,” you don’t hold it against your partner that they told you they love you. You aren’t freaked out or concerned that they have stronger feelings for you than you do for them.
This will hearten them and make them feel confident that they made the right decision telling you how they really feel about you.
The more confident someone feels expressing their feelings to you, the more caring they will be. For example, the kind of person who says I love you is also the kind of person who knows great things to say over text when their girlfriend is sad. And who doesn’t want a supportive partner?
Do you really? That means the world to me. I’ve been let down in the past, so it takes me a long time to take down my walls, but I’m definitely falling for you.
Romantic relationships can really mess us up when they end badly. Particularly if someone betrays or hurts you, you may feel like you’ll never be able to trust another person with your heart again.
After all, true heartbreak is so painful that it feels like it might just be the end of us. Who on earth wants to put themselves in a position to have that happen again?
You might think you love someone but want to take things slow so that you don’t repeat the mistakes of your past.
If this is you, you could respond to “I love you” by explaining that while you are falling for the person you’re seeing, you have been hurt in the past and so you just need a little while to be sure of your feelings.
I love how confidently you say that. I’m really touched that you feel comfortable being vulnerable with me.
Being the first person to say, “I love you” in a new relationship is intimidating. After all, how would you feel if you expressed your love, and it wasn’t reciprocated?
Thanking someone for being open and vulnerable shows them that you appreciate that putting themselves out there was a brave thing to do and don’t take what they’ve said lightly.
After all, for every guy willing to bare his feelings, there’s a guy saying, “I’m not ready for a relationship.” So, be grateful you got one of the good ones!
Thank you for being so open about your feelings.
This response to “I love you” when you aren’t ready to say it back shows that you’re conscientious.
Thanking someone for their vulnerability will make them feel you understand the effort they have made and know that talking about feelings isn’t always easy.
You’re one of the good ones, you know that?
If you don’t want to address the disparity in your feelings head on and also don’t want to let the tone of the conversation get overly serious, you can tell your partner affectionately that they are one of the good ones.
By adding, “you know that?” you’re keeping things light-hearted. You’re good-humoredly forcing them to tell you whether they know they are a catch.
Provided the two of you have good banter and enjoy joking around with each other, you will have just successfully turned a serious conversation about love that you aren’t ready for into a witty exchange that nevertheless involves genuine expressions of care for one another.
- I really appreciate you saying that. My feelings are growing fast and I’m sure I’ll feel the same in no time.
If you know you’ll be ready to say, “I love you too” soon enough, you can say this in response to an “I love you” that you aren’t ready to return just yet.
Let them know you appreciate their openness and that your feelings are growing fast. All of this will be sure to make them happy, even though you haven’t given them the “I love you too” that they might have been hoping for.
How to respond to “I love you” when you are not ready at all!
If someone you are newly seeing professes their love for you when you are frankly on the fence about them, it can really turn you off continuing getting to know them.
If you find yourself in one of these, “is this really happening?!” situations, take a deep breath. Ultimately, you have to choices.
You can decide to overlook this faux-pas and continue getting to know the person you’re seeing.
Or you can decide that telling you they love you when you’re clearly not ready is a red flag and that you should call it quits.
Here are some ways you could go about communicating whichever or these two options you decide is right for you.
That’s a big word. Are you sure?
If you’re feeling a little shocked after the person you’re casually seeing has dropped the L-bomb on you out of the blue, you can take a second to gather your bearings.
One way to do this is to offer the person who has said they love you an opportunity to withdraw their statement. Point out that love is a big word and ask them whether they are sure they meant what they just said.
It is entirely possible that they will realize the weight of what they’ve said based on your reaction and backtrack.
For example, they might say something like, “Oh gosh, did I really just say that? Sorry, that just slipped out. What I should have said is that I am really enjoying getting to know you.”
On the other hand, if they stick to their guns, you’ll know for certain where they stand and can rule out the possibility that the L-word just slipped out accidentally.
Woah, easy tiger. We don’t actually know each other that well.
If you want to keep things light-hearted and don’t want to get into a serious conversation about the fact that you don’t feel the same way, you can say something like, “Woah, easy tiger.”
This communicates that while you are not upset, you are a little concerned about the level of intensity you are getting from them. Pointing out that you don’t actually know each other that well is a good way to bring the person you’re speaking to back to reality.
Whether they insist that they love you regardless or think twice about how strongly they’re coming on, you will have dug your heels in and been clear about where you are at.
Interrupting someone’s unrealistic narrative about your relationship is a good idea, regardless of whether you stay together or not.
If you allow someone you’re seeing to continue thinking something that doesn’t reflect your reality for too long, you are selling yourself short and being forced to participate in a story that doesn’t correspond to your feelings.
I think you might be confusing love and lust.
If you think the person you’re seeing is confused about the difference between love and lust, you could point this out to them.
Don’t say this in a way that could hurt your partner’s feelings, but simply point them towards the realization that while they obviously feel extremely connected to you physically, this is not the same thing as romantic infatuation.
“I love you” isn’t a pickup line. Are you sure you mean that?
People sometimes say, “I love you” because they think it will win them points. They assume the person they are seeing will be happy to hear that they are fully committed, and so they say “I love you” in order to advance the relationship to the next stage.
Sometimes, people have ulterior motives for saying the L-word, specifically when it comes to establishing physical intimacy.
If you have refrained from being intimate with someone in the early stages of your relationship, it is possible that they will think telling you they love you will improve their chances of getting lucky.
While it could be very offensive to accuse someone of playing this game if they only have genuine intentions, if you strongly suspect that they are using “I love you” as a pickup line, you can call them out on their behavior. If you need additional inspiration, check out these great ways to respond to a pickup line.
I mean, I’ve really enjoyed the dates we’ve been on, but I feel like it’s a little soon for that word. Are you sure you really mean that?
If you are the type to call a spade a spade, just be honest about what you’re thinking.
Tell the person who has told you they loved you that you have enjoyed the time you’ve spent together so far, but that it feels too early to say, “I love you.”
Give them an out by asking whether they are sure they mean what they just said.
Who knows, they may turn around, agree with you, and apologize for being too forward. Then, you could just continue as you were and agree not to mention the L-word for a good while.
Really? Because I feel like I’m just getting to know you.
If the predominant emotion you feel when someone says, “I love you” and you aren’t ready to say it back is disbelief, communicate this to them.
Ask them, “Really?” and then explain that you are in a very different place emotionally.
I think we might be on slightly different pages here. I’m nowhere near love with this.
A good line to take when someone you don’t know that well tells you they love you is to say that you are clearly on different pages.
Telling them you are nowhere near feeling love for them will give them a much-needed wake-up call.
The two of you can then discuss whether you see a way forward given that you have had such different views about your relationship.
Are you sure you don’t mean that you have a crush on me?
It can be different to understand the different levels of romantic feeling you can have for someone unless you have experienced a wide range of them.
For example, if you have recently come out of a very serious relationship with someone you loved deeply and the person you’re seeing has never had a partner, you will have access to a different scale of romantic feelings than they do.
Take this into account when deciding how to react when someone tells you they love you far too soon.
What the person you’re seeing feels for you may only be a crush, but because it is the most intense thing they’ve ever felt for someone, they assume it’s love.
Asking someone who tells you they love you before you’re ready whether they are sure they don’t mean they have a crush on you is a good way to get a little more intel into what they are actually feeling.
I mean, I like you, but love is huge word.
If you feel a bit shocked, you don’t have to be perfectly diplomatic. Why not just say that you like the person who has just told you they love you before you are ready, but that love is big word.
They can then consider your words and you can have a conversation with each other about what feelings you do have.
That’s such a big commitment. Are you sure you want to say that to me?
This is a generous and compassionate response to someone telling you they love you before you are ready.
Pointing out to the person you are seeing that saying “I love you” is a big commitment will bring them down to earth and force them to consider whether they want to accept the real-life responsibilities that come with being in love.
Asking them whether they are sure they want to say, “I love you” gives them a chance to assess whether they really meant the words they just said or whether they only said them because they like the idea of being in love with someone.
Based on their response, you can work out what you want your next step to be.
Hey, it’s me, Steven. Dating and relationships have always fascinated me. On Dategosu, you will find my best tips to make sure your next date is a great success!