If your partner says those three little words before you're ready to say them back, there are phrases you can use that should prevent his feelings from getting hurt. After all, he shouldn't expect you to use the L word if it's a lie. Most men will appreciate your honesty, as long as you handle the situation delicately. If your man's feelings are stronger than yours, here are a few different ways to respond to "I love you" without saying it back:
1. “I’m so Lucky to Have You.”
This is one of the best ways to respond, because it will show him that you're happy to have him in your life. Even though you're not ready to say the words yet, it'll suggest that you'll be able to say them one day. You just need more time.
2. “How Much?”
As long as you say the words playfully, he'll be so busy trying to think of an answer that he won't even realize you didn't say the words back to him. Of course, there's always the chance that he'll turn the question around and ask you how much you love him.
3. “You’re so Cute.”
If you use this line, make sure that you don't say it like you're talking down to him. If it makes him feel like a child or a puppy, then he won't be happy. But if you say these words and follow them up with an intense kiss, he should realize that you care for him, too.
4. “I’m Glad.”
This is a short and sweet response. If you don't want to lie to him, then this is probably the way to go. After all, it's always nice to hear that someone loves you. If he knows that you're happy about his feelings, and not terrified by them, then he should realize that your own feelings are headed in the same direction. They're just not there yet.
5. “since when?”
You can either say this phrase as a joke, or you can ask it as a serious question. After all, if he says the L word out of the blue, it's only natural for you to want to know why he suddenly feels so strongly for you.
6. “I Know.”
If he's a Star Wars fan, then he'll love this little reference. Even if he hasn't seen the films, then this phrase just might make him chuckle if you say it in a lighthearted manner.
7. "It's Going to Be a Little While before I Can Say the Same."
The best way to respond to those three little words is by being blunt with him. Tell him that you like him a lot and that you can see yourself being with him for a long time, but he's moving a bit faster than you usually do. Tell him that you don't feel comfortable lying to him, so you want to wait until you're 100% ready to utter the words before you actually do so. He should understand.
If you're with the right guy, he won't leave you when you refuse to say those three little words back to him. As long as you make it clear that you care about him and that you're in the process of falling for him, he should be happy. Has anyone ever told you that they loved you before you were ready to say the words back to them?