How to Deal When You Say 'I Love You' and Don't Hear It Back

Saying "I love you" for the first time in a relationship is so scary.

It requires you to put yourself out there and be vulnerable with your feelings, with no guarantee that your S.O. will feel the same way. While the ideal scenario involves hearing an "I love you" in return, the truth is your partner might not be ready to make such a big declaration regarding their feelings.

If you don't hear those three little words, it's not the end of the world. Keep scrolling for our tips on how to deal when you say "I love you" and don't hear it back.

Don't Expect a Response

First and foremost, don'expect a response when you say "I love you." We know this is hard to hear. In the typical fairytale moment, both partners fall in love at the same time and pace, resulting in one big confession that feels magical and perfect. In reality, people are just different. Just because your partner isn't in love with you doesn't mean they don't care about you.

The thing is, saying "I love you" should be about what you feel. If you've truly fallen in love with this person, it should be chance to express how much they mean to you and why you care about them so much. Expecting a response takes away from the sincerity of your emotions. It indicates that you're only saying "I love you" so you can hear it back, which isn't a good enough reason to say it at all. If you focus on how you feel and not how your partner responds, it will be much easier to move forward if they don't say it back.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before: Peter and Lara Jean ending scene

(To All the Boys I've Loved Before via Netflix)


Be Kind to Yourself

Oftentimes, if you say "I love you" and don't hear it back, your thoughts immediately spiral into self-doubt. You wonder what's wrong with you. Why aren't they in love with you? What about you isn't lovable? And that doesn't even begin to cover the regret you feel. You tell yourself that you never should have said it, that it was a stupid decision and so on and so forth, until you've basically driven yourself crazy with self-loathing.

If you don't hear "I love you" back, you have to remember to be kind to yourself. You did nothing wrong by expressing your feelings, especially if you're confident in your emotions. Hard as it is, try not to beat yourself up. Instead, be happy that you were able to express yourself and let everything else fall into place.


Don't Push Them

If your partner doesn't say "I love you" right after you say it, it's because they don't want to. If they genuinely feel that way, they'll be excited to return your affection. But if they have any doubts, their hesitation should be a clear indication that they're not quite on the same page.

In that moment of hesitation, it can be tempting to push your partner towards the answer you want to hear. Don't. Pushing your partner to give you an answer will only result in a disingenuous response. It will make them feel pressured to be on the same page as you, rather than allow their feelings to grow at their own pace. Hearing the words don't mean anything if your partner's emotions don't line up with the phrase. Don't push them into the response you want to hear just for the sake of hearing it. If you do, it doesn't mean anything.

Friends: Chandler staring at Monica

(Friends via NBC)


Don't Get Angry

Unfortunately, your partner's inability to reciprocate your feelings can often lead to anger. Well, something that feels like anger, at least. In reality, it's probably just hurt and embarrassment that you've transformed into rage because anger keeps you from being vulnerable. However, getting angry at your S.O. for not responding in the way you want is the worst reaction.

You've just confessed to your partner that you love them. Following up that statement by getting angry at them for not saying what you wanted to hear kind of ruins the point of your confession. Love is about what you feel, not what the other person feels. Live up to your word and respond to them with love instead of ruining the moment by getting angry.


Enjoy the Moment

If you've told your partner "I love you," there's no turning back now. The words are out there and there's nothing you can do to change it. If they don't say it back, you can't control that. The best thing you can do is simply enjoy the moment. You've expressed your feelings and gotten those emotions off your chest. Live in that for a moment and breathe in the slight freedom you feel at getting things out in the open. If your relationship continues to grow and expand, you want to look back on this moment fondly. Keep your tumultuous emotions under wraps for the time being and just try to enjoy the strong feelings you have for your S.O.

gilmore girls - rory resting her head on dean's shoulder

(Gilmore Girls via The CW)


Examine Afterward

Once you take a step away from your S.O., it's time to examine the situation. At the first opportunity you get, it's okay to go over every moment in detail. What did their face look like when you told them? Did they seem shocked? Happy? Completely disgusted? Did they pull away from you and get weird or did they pull you close and show you affection?

If your S.O. reacts really poorly to your confession of love, it may be a sign that you think about the relationship differently. While you're getting serious, they may think of your romance as a temporary thing. That's bad. You want to make sure you're both heading in the same direction. If they reacted really badly, it's okay to approach them about it and ask why they responded in such a weird way.

If, however, your S.O. responds in a positive manner, even though they didn't say "I love you," you have nothing to worry about. They might not be on the same page yet, but they still value your relationship and are working towards those feelings themselves. In that case, you just have to give them time and space to move at their own rate.


Give Them Time

After you say "I love you" to your S.O., you have to give them time to process it. It's a big confession with a lot of meaning behind it and there are probably a million things going through your partner's head. In addition, they may have reasons you're not even aware of for not saying it back. Maybe the timing was wrong, maybe they were just shocked, or maybe they just don't love you quite yet.

Either way, give them a few days to think it through. Don't pressure them, don't bring it back up right away and don't try to make a joke out of it too quickly. Just allow both of you to ruminate on the feelings for a while. You each need space to think through what this means for your relationship. Don't rush into the next decision.


(Gossip Girl via The CW)


Understand That You Don't Have to Break-Up

Oftentimes when you don't hear those three little words in return, you automatically assume that you have to break-up. You're not on the same page, how could you stay together? Thankfully, that isn't the truth. While a partner who reacts really poorly to your declaration may want to end things, other partners may be just as happy to stay with you and allow their feelings to develop into love. You shouldn't assume that they're over you just because they're not on the same page as you.

You also shouldn't allow your wounded pride to lead you into ending the relationship. If you're really in love with them, stick it out. Maybe things will end eventually, but maybe—with time—they'll be on the same page as you and things will continue as if nothing ever happened.


Looking for more dating advice? Click HERE for how to convince your parents you're ready to start dating.