The exchange of “I love you” is indeed a beautiful milestone in a relationship. As much as it is beautiful, at times, in particular circumstances, it can be a little confusing.
Instead of jumping out of joy, you find yourself with a head full of questions that you didn’t even know needed to be answered in the first place.
The good, and beautiful thing about this, is that it’s normal, and it happens a lot. If he told you he loves you, and you’re feeling some type of way about it, it’s time to check the basics!
The meaning of “I love you” depends on when he says it: Time, place, situation.
The first time he says “I love you” is often beautiful. But, depending on the time, place, and situation he says it, it can tell a lot about the meaning of those words. Here are a few, very specific, cases I’d like you to consider (keep in mind this is the first time he’s saying it):
When he says he loves you while he’s drunk…
Some people are looser and speak their minds when drunk – a way of saying what they’re afraid to say when sober. Being drunk can also make a person feel things ‘more’ than they are.
Considering this, he either spoke what he’s been afraid to say soberly, or he regretted it the first moment he sobered up.
To know which is which, think of his actions before and after he said I love you.
When he says he loves you during sex…
Overwhelmed by good hormones being released in his brain, thinking it’s so real, he’s oh-so-happy, and he says it! He says “I love you” for the first time… while you’re having sex.
The good feeling he feels while having sex it’s temporary, but at the moment feels so real and strong hence an “I love you” might slip accidentally or purposely.
He might love you at that moment, but if that’s the only ‘place and time’ he says it, then it can be more of a temporary feeling.
When he says I love you over text…
He could be a person that has an easier time expressing himself virtually, which is fine, ok, and normal in some cases.
Don’t stress too much about it, since this could be his ‘safe’ way of letting you know how he feels. You want to pay attention to his actions and words in the real-life from now on.
If he said I love you and now he ignores you…
There could be various reasons why a man says I love you and ignores you after. It could be insecurities, a need for attention, a way of taking control back in the relationship, etc.
Take your time to reflect on the situation, but also give him time. Don’t put pressure on him nor yourself to solve this out immediately.
If you’re looking to make a decision, take and give time and see how you’re feeling after things cool down a little.
Time matters too: how long have you been together?
If it’s too early into the relationship, then you might want to be a little cautious;
After a week of dating…
Too early could be after a week of dating, since that’s a short time to know a person and to see who they truly are.
In this case, he didn’t get to see that deep in you, didn’t get to know you, hence he could be ‘in love’ with an imaginary woman that you represent to him.
Telling you he loves you after just a week of dating could also be a sign that he’s not able to distinguish the difference between love and infatuation.
After months of dating…
A month, maybe two, maybe 6, or even more, cannot be considered too early to say I love you.
Keep in mind that we (humans) are very prone to creating imaginary and ideal people in our heads which then we project onto other people, or we feel love in a moment, but then can’t keep up with it when it comes to talking ‘long-term language’.
Ask yourself, has he seen you, the real you, within those months? And can you see if he can tell the difference between a strong temporary feeling and ‘love’?
After years of dating…
A man saying I love you after a year or maybe more of dating, or into a relationship is often considered a sign of maturity in him.
He clearly took his time to know you, to see and hear you as a person, to make sure that what he says is what he means.
How to tell if he really means it when he says “I love you”?
Fundamentally I believe that once you get to truly see and understand a person, then you can get to love the person about who they are.
Here’s how you can tell he meant his “I love you”:
He backs it up with action. You genuinely feel loved and appreciated.
When he says he loves you, you can know he does really mean it when he backs it up with action, when you feel loved, appreciated, and cared for with genuineness.
He showed signs he loves you before saying it.
It’s a lot on the feeling you have and get when you’re around him. How he shows you care, affection, and yes, love.
He didn’t put pressure on you to say it back.
When he says I love you, and doesn’t put pressure on you to say it back, then he most probably means it.
If he’d be doing it for validation or as a way to get gratitude from a person, then he’d be mad if you wouldn’t say it back or he’d put pressure on you just to hear those words.
You’re aware of the way he gives and receives love, you can see and feel that he loves you indeed.
We all give, receive, and perceive love differently. If you know him to the extent where you can tell his way of loving and desire to be loved, then you can easily tell if he means it when he tells you he does love you.
When you feel it and see it in him, without much of a doubt about it, then it’s real.
Some men indeed say the L-word just to ‘get some’
As much as I hate to say it, it’s true: some men pretend to love you just so they can get you under the sheets.
You can tell this is the case in your relationship if:
- You don’t feel respected around him;
- You feel pressured in some way;
- He’s rushing things without considering your feelings about them;
- He doesn’t seem to mean “I love you” even though he said/says it;
- You’re left confused, and with low self-esteem after encountering him;
- You see signs of toxicity in the relationship.
Have you been waiting to hear it?
To love and to be loved back it’s absolutely beautiful; And to be frankly honest, I do believe that, at some point, it is one of our main drives to live and keep living, because, indeed love is beyond beautiful.
As a matter of fact, I think describing love with just ‘beautiful’ is an understatement.
Now back to the point, if you’ve been waiting to hear it, and you finally did, I have a couple of advice for you:
- Don’t take it for granted;
- Cherish every moment of it;
- Focus on what you’re giving, rather than what you’re getting;
- Avoid creating unrealistic expectations;
- Tell him you love him back if you do.
“I didn’t say it back” – What to do if you’re not ready to say it back…
If he told you he loves you – doesn’t matter if early in the relationship or later in it – and you’re not ready to say it back, then don’t say it.
If you genuinely like him and care for him then tell him, otherwise, you’ll end up lying to him, which then leads to other things accumulating into the relationship (which later on show up as problems that are close to unsolvable).
Here’s what I suggest you do/say if you’re not ready to say “I love you” back:
- Express gratitude;
- Let him know you care for him through your words and actions;
- Let him know that you’re not ready yet, give him a bit of an answer, and don’t leave him hanging;
- Don’t say the words until you mean them, this way you’ll respect the relationship with honesty.
If he tells you he loves you every day…
I spoke about this a lot before, men, in general, have a hard time being emotional or opening up about their feelings. If your boyfriend/partner tells you he loves you every day, then it is a good sign (of course if you feel the same way about him).
Take it as a big, great sign that he indeed loves you; Especially if he says he loves you with all his heart, or if he tells you he loves you after a fight; It’s rare and beautiful.
On the other hand, if you don’t feel comfortable with it, then try talking to him about it. Here’s how you can do so:
- Show him gratitude for letting you know of his feelings;
- Let him know of the reasons why it’s making you feel uncomfortable;
- Tell him your intentions;
- Let him know that you love him if you do;
- Communicate honestly and openly;
- See if you can find ways to find a common ground on this.
You both have different ways of defining, giving, perceiving, and receiving love.
Try to understand that love is expressed, defined, perceived, given, and taken differently by each individual.
Once you figure that out, you’ll notice yourself flowing easily into love. You’ll notice yourself being more reasonable in the relationship, in your decision-making regarding the relationship, and your expectations from the relationship.
For example, his way of showing love could be through helping you around the house (known as acts of service which is one of the 5 love languages), and if that’s not how you feel loved, then communicate your needs, ask him to communicate his as well.
Try to have a deep understanding of what makes him feel loved, how he shows love, what makes you feel loved, and how you show love; see if those ways around it are compatible and healthy with one another.
It’s a way of making communication and connection between you healthier and more approachable.
What comes after the “I love you” in the relationship – What now?
You’ve confessed what you’ve been feeling to each other, or one to the other, in this case, him… Now what? Well, I’ve got a short (but helpful) list for you:
- Back it up with actions;
- Show gratitude and don’t take it for granted;
- Don’t expect things to change;
- Avoid expectations for ‘the future’, be present;
- Enjoy and cherish one another.
“I love you” is a way of showing vulnerability, that’s why we tend to complicate things when it comes to it. We try to avoid vulnerability, we don’t like the feeling of it. Taking the step and ‘the risk’ to say the words, takes courage and love, really.
1. He said he loves me, but he has a girlfriend. What does it mean, and what can I do?
If he’s not in an open relationship with his girlfriend, then we have a problem here.
Him saying he loves you while having a girlfriend (monogamous relationship) could mean:
- He genuinely developed feelings for you,
- He’s looking for validation and security from other people outside his relationship, this might mean you’re not the only one,
- He’s confused about his feelings,
- He could be trying to use the words as a way to get sexually involved with you.
Here’s what you can do about it:
- Talk it out with yourself first,
- Talk about it with him, let him know of your feelings,
- Think about his girlfriend, put yourself in her position,
- Respectfully withdraw from him, and let him know of your reasons.
2. He says he loves me but we are not dating. Any advice on that?
Take it very slow and easy. Whatever type of relationship you’re in, take your time. See if he truly understands you as a being, as a person. See if he fully grasped the idea of who you are as a person.