Hearing someone tell you that they love you can be a beautiful moment in your life that leads to long-term happiness. On the other hand, it could come as a shock and cause an awkward pause because you’re not ready to say it back. They said “I love you” but you’re still not sure. What now? Well, are you not feeling comfortable saying these words out loud? Or you don’t feel the same way about your partner? That’s a big question that you’re going to have to answer to figure out what to do now, but it’s not the only one… Analyze your feelings for them and answer the following four questions honestly before you decide what to do next.
1. Do you think that you’ll eventually feel the same way about them?
So, they said “I love you” and you didn’t say it back. What did you say? If you care about this person but aren’t ready to say the L-word, show them that you’ll eventually be ready. Maybe “I love you” isn’t the way you’d describe your feelings for them but let them know how much the emotional connection that you have means to you. Tell them that they mean a lot to you and give them a hug or a kiss. Saying “I love you” and not hearing “I love you” afterward can hurt a lot. So, if you think that you’ll eventually start feeling comfortable with saying the L-word to them, cushion the blow by focusing on your positive feelings toward them even (if you wouldn’t call them love).
2. Is it time for an honest conversation about the relationship?
On the other hand, what if you aren’t sure that you’ll ever be ready? When they are showing all the signs of falling in love, but you’re not feeling comfortable saying “I love you” it might be time for some healthy, honest communication. If you aren’t sure that you’ll ever feel the same way about them, talk about the relationship. Maybe you were hoping for a more casual relationship while they are looking for a long-term commitment. If so, you should be honest about your intentions. Discuss the future of your relationship either way and if there’s no hope that you’ll eventually say the L-word, it might be best to consider the next question.
3. Are you ready to end the relationship?
Maybe you were hoping to have a casual relationship with them, but when they said “I love you” things turned too serious for you. If you’re not ready for that and don’t think you ever will be, it might be time to end the relationship. Or maybe you are ready for a serious relationship, you just don’t think that you’ll ever reciprocate their feelings. If so, you should again consider ending the relationship. They are hoping to find love, so it would be a little selfish to waste their time if you have no intention of loving them back. Keep in mind that people can fall in love at a different pace. Really reflect on your feelings for them; just because you’re not showing all the signs of falling in love right now, it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen in the future. However, if you think that you’ll never fall for them, let them find love with someone else.
4. Did they respond with anger because you didn’t say the same?
When someone says “I love you” and doesn’t hear it back, it’s only natural to feel disappointed, sad, and even embarrassed. However, if they are genuinely angry at you and threaten a breakup or set an ultimatum, it might be a red flag. While it is certainly desirable that you say “I love you” back, you shouldn’t feel pressured to say it if you don’t feel comfortable doing that. Throwing a tantrum because of it can be a sign of immaturity. Instead, your partner should give you some time to develop those feelings naturally, at your own pace. Of course, healthy communication is crucial. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep or lie about feeling the same way if you don’t. Simply have a heart-to-heart conversation about the future of your relationship and express the feelings you do feel for them.
All in all, it’s easy to understand how your partner might be feeling after taking a leap of faith and not hearing those 3 special words back. If you care about them, be gentle with them and show them affection that doesn’t involve the L-word. On the other hand, if the reason you can’t say those words is that you don’t think they are the right person for you, respect them enough to end the relationship. Most importantly, don’t say “I love you” if you’re not feeling comfortable saying it. It wouldn’t be fair to them for you to fabricate your feelings just because you feel pressured. Whatever you do, be honest about how you feel, first with yourself, then with your partner too.