The 9 Worst Things You Can Say In Response When Someone Says “I Love You”

Love is a funny emotion if you think about it. To love someone means that no matter what, they’ll always have a place in your heart. There are plenty of elements of love — both romantic love and a deep true love where you’ll never stop thinking about someone, even if they’ve leave your life. Saying “I love you” to someone for the first time is more or less saying “I care deeply about you as a person.” It’s important not to say it before you mean it, but if someone says it to you and you’re not on that level yet, here are the worst responses you can follow up with.

  1. “Thanks.” This one isn’t truly terrible, but it will make the person who’s said “I love you” feel quite confused. It’s almost like the equivalent of responding with nothing in return. You may be thankful, but there are other words to use. Maybe something like, “those words really mean so much to me.”
  2. “You’re like a brother/sister to me.” This is the ultimate diss. Not only are you telling someone that you’re in no way romantically or sexually attracted to them, but it’s the invitation into the friend zone. If you feel this way and you’ve been dating, you may want to rethink your entire relationship. If someone has a crush on you and this is genuinely how you feel, use better words. Say something like, “You’re very important in my life,” or “I’m not interested in a relationship, but you’re one of my favorite people.”
  3. “How am I supposed to respond to that?” Ouch. This response is simply cruel. You may feel this way on the inside if you literally had no clue someone held the feelings they did, but saying this might traumatize someone. Remember, they did something really amazing. They confessed their feelings. They knew there was a possibility of rejection, but they still went with how they felt. Instead, say “Wow, I have no words! That’s a really nice thing to say.” If you don’t know how you feel and you may love them back, tell them. “I haven’t really sat down with my emotions to figure this out yet” is an honest statement they should be able to accept.
  4. “You don’t know what love is.” Way to invalidate someone’s feelings! This statement will make your partner feel like a child. You need to recognize the fact that a line like this belongs in a teen drama, not real life.
  5. “Stop being dramatic.” If you respond with this, you might not be mature enough for a relationship. Or, maybe you were completely out of the loop with how someone felt about you to the level where you think they’re the problem.
  6. “Really?” If your confidence isn’t very high, you may think this. In fact, you may be really excited that someone loves you that you, yourself, can’t believe it. But in saying “really?” you’re taking the focus off of them and their emotions and making it about you. You are very worthy of love, and you should be at an age where you realize that you’re important to other people.
  7. “Already?” Say you’ve been on two dates. The person you’re with drops the L-bomb, and you seriously think it’s way too early. Truth be told, it probably is. But that revelation is still big for someone. You have a right to back away at this point and stop dating if you’re nowhere on the same page. But saying “already?” will make the moment incredibly awkward. Instead, something like “That’s very kind of you to say” would be appropriate.
  8. “Ok.” A response of “ok” makes it look like you weren’t even listening to what the other person was saying. If you said it without eye contact, that’s even worse. If you were in a situation before where someone might have told you they loved you as a joke, it makes sense if your first thought is disbelief. Still, all people are different, and just because you were hurt in the past doesn’t make you unlovable or unable to find love.
  9. “You shouldn’t.” A response like this is self-deprecating. Even if you don’t feel the same way in return, it should be flattering if someone you like or care about says “I love you.” Even if you think you’re a bad person or did a bad thing, you’re still worthy of love. Try not to downplay someone else’s experience. Your own doubts about yourself might be something you’ll want to work out yourself to help you live your best life.
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.