Love is a very complicated thing. It seems so easy in the movies. We grow up thinking we’ll find that special someone and be able to easily tell them we love them. The truth is that it’s not always that simple. Sometimes we don’t feel the same. Knowing how to respond to “I love you” when you just can’t say it back will be useful in many ways.
People fall in love at different speeds
Not everyone will fall in love as quickly as others. Some people take a very long time – years, even – to fall in love while others do in a matter of weeks. It doesn’t mean their love is any different. It just means they take longer to have those same feelings.
Everybody is different. You may not fall in love very quickly but your significant other might. That means you may run into a situation where they confess their love but you can’t say it back. If that’s the case, you might want to know how to respond to “I love you” without hurting them. [Read: How long does it take to really fall in love]
How to respond to “I love you” when you don’t feel the same way
Just because you don’t love them in that moment doesn’t mean you never will. It simply means that, at that time, you don’t feel it. Sometimes you need more time to fall in love with someone.
If you’ve ever been in this situation before, you know how awkward and uncomfortable it can be. That’s why you’ll want to know just what to say if it ever happens again. Luckily, we have everything you’ll need so you’ll know how to respond to “I love you” the next time someone confesses their feelings. [Read: 10 reasons confessing your love too soon sucks]
#1 Smile and be appreciative. I know it can be a little scary when this happens, but it’s still a great thing. This person loves you. They enjoy you so much they have completely fallen for you. That’s something to be happy about.
Even if you don’t feel the same way just yet, you still care about them. The fact that they’ve fallen for you should make you smile. So show them that by responding with a big smile and being appreciative that they have given you their love.
#2 Tell them how happy that makes you. You can even just say, “That makes me so happy!” It’s really that simple. It might not be the words back, but it’ll be enough to make them realize that you’re happy with their love.
You can even take it a little further by explaining why it makes you so happy. Tell them just how much joy you get out of them loving you. They’ll be happy that they caused you that much joy. [Read: How to be blissfully happy in a relationship]
#3 Give them a hug and a kiss. Sometimes words don’t even need to be said. You can just show them your appreciation by giving them a kiss and a hug. You can even do this in combination with some other tips.
The point of this is to secure their confession with intimacy. It might not be verbal confirmation of your feelings, but they’ll love being close to you. The physical intimacy can help them feel at ease with you not saying it back.
#4 Tell them how much you care about them. The thing that messes most people up when they don’t know how to respond to “I love you” is that they don’t make it clear they still care about the person.
You have to tell them you care about them deeply. You may not be able to say it back right now, but that doesn’t mean you never will. Show them this. Ensure that your feelings are still very strong for them even if you can’t say those three words. [Read: 11 sweet and intimate ways to show how much you care]
#5 Tell them you’re so lucky to have them in your life. This is very important. If you do have strong feelings for them and you are genuinely happy to have them in your life, say it. Tell them that your life is better with them in it.
If you gloss over this part, it’ll leave them insecure and upset. That’s why, even if you don’t love them back right now, you have to tell them you’re lucky they’re in your life. You can even mention something about feeling lucky they are in love with you.
#6 Let them know how much you appreciate them. Appreciation is really all someone wants. Even though they may not like that you didn’t say it back, they’ll be content with being appreciated.
You can even say something along the lines of, “I know I can’t say the same right now, but I appreciate you in my life and I love how honest you are right now.” This is enough to make them realize that you still care about them and their feelings. [Read: 16 ways to really show your appreciation]
#7 Ask them, “how much?” This might seem a little odd, but hear me out. When your significant other tells you they love you, ask them, “how much?” in a cute, flirtatious way.
This will instantly break the tension if you do it in a really adorable way. If you put on a bashful face and ask this, they’ll most likely laugh. Then they’ll explain just how much.
#8 Make sure they know you are on the road to feeling the same. Just because you’re not saying it back in the moment doesn’t mean you’ll never feel the same. Make sure they know that you’re on the road to feeling that way.
If they’ve already fallen in love with you, you should know if you’re getting there or not. You can even say, “I’m not at that point right now, but I’m definitely getting there.” It keeps the hope alive and lets them know that you just fall in love at a slower rate. [Read: 19 sure signs you’re falling in love]
#9 “Oh yeah? Since when?” This is actually a really great way to respond if you’re looking to change the subject or take the attention away from your response. Again, this has to be done in a flirtatious manner in order to avoid offending them.
Put on a big smile and just ask them. You never know what they’ll say. It can even lead into a great conversation about how they knew they were in love with you for the first time.
#10 “Good. I’m glad!” Only say this if it’s genuine. If you’re a little worried about them confessing their feelings and you say this, it’ll come across very awkward. You have to mean it. So long as you have a really big smile and you give them a kiss, this is a great way to respond to “I love you.”
[Read: When should you say “I love you” for the first time?]
I know how hard it can be when someone says they love you but you’re just not ready to say the same. This is how to respond to “I love you” when you just don’t feel the same quite yet.
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