How to Say I Love You (and some tips on how not to say it) BISH sex, love and you for over 14s

How to Say ‘I Love You’

So it’s that time of year again when we’re supposed to wash, put on our best pants, light a fancy candle, drink cans of fanta out of plastic champagne glasses (just me then?) and say ‘I love you’ to someone. Great, but how?

Make it clear that you don’t expect them to say it back. Try using a love scale. Lastly do it not just say it.

How to say it

The best way to tell someone you love them is just to speak for yourself. Find a time when you really know that you mean it and that you are okay with saying it. Say it when you’re calm and not just massively turned on or high with feelings. Don’t expect or pressure them to say it back to you. In fact it’s important that you can say it without them feeling like they have to say it back to you. Texting is fine. In person is fine. Just use the method of communication that works for you and your relationship.

I made a wee video but also scroll down for more advice on how to do this.

Make it clear there’s no expectation

One of the things that makes saying ‘I love you’ tricky for everyone concerned is that there is a lot of pressure for the other person to say it back.

But also, what if they don’t say it back! Aaaaaaaargh!

Even though there are tonnes of reasons for why someone might not want to say it back straight away, it can feel like a huge blow if they don’t.

So try to take the pressure off it by making it clear that you are just speaking for you. It’s just something you want to say and that there’s no expectation that they have to say the same thing back (now or ever). Feel free to copy and paste the following into a WhatsApp/Telegram/SMS/MySpace/Bebo message:

‘I want to say something to you, don’t feel like you have to say it back if you don’t want to (it’s chill, I know you’re into me): I love you. There, I’ve said it. Hope that’s okay. xx’

Read Talk about talking – how to work out how to communicate in your relationship


The thing with the whole ‘I love you’ thing is that it is a very binary choice. If you say it, you love them: if you don’t, you don’t. So to make it easier you could have more of a scale (you know how much I like scales).

Obviously you could make your own up, but one example could be: ‘okay, so on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is ‘I don’t love you at all’, to 10 which is ‘I love you more than anything or anyone in the world’, where are you do you think? I’m a solid 6.5.’

You could do it over text, or in person. To make it more fun you could both blurt it out on the count of 3. If you do that, please take a video and tag @bishsexed on Instagram (no pressure).

Stay in touch with Bish! Get an email every time I post an article. Or follow on Twitter (I post less on Instagram and TikTok because they take down sex education content!) The rest of the article continues below.

Do you have to it?

‘I love you’ means different things to different people. For some people it’s quite light and nice and easy to say. For others love is a really heavy and serious word and it means things like lifelong commitment and ‘happy ever after’ and stuff. So there might be lots of reasons why saying I love you might not go down very well, depending on the person and the circumstances.

Some people find it easier saying they love their friends, or family, or pets, or favourite famous person, than they do to someone they might be in a romantic relationship with. Others find the opposite is true.

So make it easier on everyone and give yourself some options. You could say

‘I think I love you a little bit.’

‘Or I love being with you.’

‘I love the time we spend together.’

‘I love being around you.’

‘I loved it when we did that.’

‘These are the things I love about our relationship.’

‘I have big time feelings for you.’

‘I like you very very very very very much.’

Should I tell her I love her? my advice to a reader

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Do it, not say it

Not everyone wants to say it and not everyone wants to hear it. So do it rather than say it. Think about all of the things that you do in your relationship that are acts of love, things such as: support, having fun together, being honest, communicating well, trusting each other, respecting each other, treating each other nice, giving each other space.

Read how to do relationships

How not to do it

And, just to completely kill any romantic buzz, here’s some advice on how not to do it.

Saying it but not doing it

If you’re just saying ‘ilu’ in a text every night before bed having spent the day not listening, or being there, or not offering support, or not sharing nice times then you’re just saying it not doing it aren’t you?

As I say above, if you are just saying it (or it’s being said a lot to you) but you’re not doing it, then it might be worth thinking about whether you really mean what you say.

Try the how’s my relationship graph

Don’t confuse love with sex

During sexy times, and also other super intimate times, it’s possible to feel very loved up if you’re having a really nice time. So it sometimes might be a good idea to slow down and not drop the L Bomb at that point because you might feel differently about it another time.

Read about the biology of love and why you might not be in love

We don’t all want to hear it thanks

Although popular culture tells us that we all want someone to tell us that they love us actually often we really don’t. Even if we love someone, them telling us that they love us can be a bit much. Just because it’s something you might want to say it doesn’t meant that this is something someone else wants to hear. Is this about your or about them? We definitely don’t want someone to tell us they love us if we don’t love them.

Don’t say it to make someone love you

You can’t love at someone. If you want to tell someone that you like them, great, but don’t tell someone that you love them in order to make them say it back. Also don’t declare your undying love for someone like you are a medieval knight.

Unrequited love, where you are in love with someone and they have know idea and aren’t even in a relationship with you, is loving at someone, not with them. So it’s kinda non-consensual and also you’re kinda treating them like an object. If someone wants to love you, and/or to say that they love you then they must feel free to do so. Otherwise I think that it’s not really love #BISHhottake

What is Love? My video on what love is and what it isn’t

Do you have any thoughts about how to say I love you? Do you have any nice stories you want to share? Leave a comment below (I moderate them all).

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© Justin Hancock, 2022

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Justin Hancock has been a trained sex and relationships educator since 1999. In that time he’s taught and given advice about sex and relationships with thousands of young people in person and millions online. He’s a member of the World Association for Sexual Health.

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