You will be surprised at the number of takes and opinions this question has gathered. Infact, it has led one to believe that perspective matters a lot in most situations. Perspective goes hand-in-hand with context, tone and intent as all of this plays a role in how your message conveyed was received.
On our discussion table this time is a question that has brought several responses. What does it mean when a guy says “love you” instead of “I love you”?
As an introduction, the words of Kastina Bayless would be an early contribution.
“I think it is not only a conditioned response, it is a defence mechanism. When we say “Love you” it is a distancing of self. It is a general statement, that can be waived off if it isn’t reciprocated, or if either you aren’t sure how it is meant. Saying “I love you” gives it immediacy. It is taking ownership and responsibility for not only claiming the action but living the truths that come with the concept.”
Love is a flexible word that represents a range of good feelings, that is why it is measured in degrees. For instance, saying “I love ice cream” and ” I love my girlfriend” are two different statements that mean different things. However, it’s up to people to understand the interpretation and application of the two statements.
The same logic applies to when a guy says, “love you” instead of “I love you”. The contextual meaning plays a huge role in its interpretation and irrespective of diverse opinions, I think we should all hold on to the tone and intent of the message.
So right in this article, we are going to first explore the meaning of “love you” and “I love you” then go ahead to explain a few reasons why a guy would say “love you’ instead of “I love you”.
What Does It Mean to Say “Love You”?
1. “Love you” is a vague statement that doesn’t hold a lot of water. Because of that it can be simply dismissed as a kind of “see you later” you throw to someone across the street; it does not show any connection between the partners nor depict any serious relationship. It shows lack of commitment, distance and denial. In a way, it feels you are not fully up to the task of adding “I” and owning it up.
2. “Love you” is like a shorthand version of ” I love you”, something said in a rush that may not have a chance to unfold fully, something you say to someone over your back. Your intention might have been to save space while texting (as is shorthand) or quickly put the word out there without second guessing but it makes it sound less intimate.
What It Means to say “I Love You.”
1. When you say “I love you” you are creating an emotional bond between those words. It is reassuring to hear the “I” in that statement because it shows that you are owning up to that feeling.
2. Saying “I love you” is bold and presents a deeper impact on the receiver. Especially when that receiver is your lover or partner. It is more satisfying to hear because it shows intimacy and sincerity. There is a big difference between the two statements, but is it that big a difference to worry about so much?
It depends. While some may see it as just a tiny bit of omission, others, who are keen on expression, may think it’s a way of avoiding pledging commitment and take offense.
Truly, a one word difference holds a lot of water in relationships and can leave you in a bit of confusion and worry, especially if you come from a place where it has always been said in full. For you, this difference can depict how smoothly your relationship is running because perspectives and interpretations differ.
However, understanding his intentions or manner of expression can help ease your worries. There are a lot of reasons why he decided to opt for saying “love you” instead of “I love you.”
1. He is a casual person
“Love you” is a casual statement and that is just who he is—a casual person; it’s simply the most natural way for him to express his feelings. To him, the “I” does not make any difference, he is not used to saying things in their full version, so he throws his words around like that. You might have noticed a pattern in his conversations, so that should help you understand his mode of communication. Someone like this doesn’t mince words, so if he says something, irrespective of how you reason about it, he means it.
Since this is about who he is, it is not something you should be heavily worried about. However, if it worries you that much, clear communication is the key. Already, he loves you, so making little adjustments is something he can do. Still, you should be open to adjusting as much on your own end because this might not even be a big deal for him.
2. He might just be trying to please you
In this case, he might not be invested in the relationship as much as you are, so he just feels obliged to say it because saying “love you” seems easy to throw around without feelings. He may not really have feelings for you, so omitting the “I” was on purpose. He just sees you as a friend and nothing more.
You would surely notice something being off. Emotional connection is something you can feel unless you turn a blind eye to it. Please do not do that if you want a relationship free of pretense. If it is not going well, it is better not to commit than to be in a situation where it feels like he is being forced to love you.
3. Saying “love you” grew into a habit
Prior to dating you, he rarely used that term but somehow, he might have picked it up and added it to his vocabulary. From the casual usage of the words, he subsequently made it a habit.
Sometimes people adapt language patterns because of how they sound; it feels like a nice change from whatever they are used to and splurged on it.
This time, it’s not something he intentionally uses to cover up feelings or avoid it. It is an honest mistake. If this is the case, talking to him about it can clear the air and you both can even have a good laugh about habits that grew on you from nowhere.
4. He feels vulnerable
Saying “love you” sounds more comfortable to an emotionally vulnerable person than saying the full, “I love you”. That one extra letter makes him feel so self-conscious and vulnerable. He might not be ready to open up to you yet, so omitting “I” makes it easy for him.
However, it does not mean he is not committed to you, it just shows that he isn’t on that level of being so open and direct about his feelings yet but would appreciate it if you met him halfway.
If you think this is the case, you should let him know that it is nothing to be scared about. If you prefer when your partner is being verbally expressive, tell him so and watch him make an effort to please you.
5. He is trying to keep his distance from you.
This scenario presents itself when there is little or no emotional connection. He wants to let you know how he feels but he can’t put up with the words because he is not feeling it.
So, if you notice him struggling with saying I love you, you should check out your connection with each other and you both have to be willing to put in the work to rekindle whatever interest was lost.
6. He is testing the waters
When a guy says, “love you” instead of “I love you”, he might just be trying to win you over without attaching any promises. He is not saying it fully because he is not ready to be committed. He prefers to leave the floor open so he can jump out anytime he wants. He is not all in and he is not all out, just leaving his options open.
Also, it may be that he does not want it to be such a big deal, so he shies away from making the full statement. Or he is not sure where the relationship stands between the two of you. Saying “I love you” may seem out of proportion if you have not clarified your relationship. He is just scared that it may blow up and push you away.
In conclusion, everyone is different and expresses their feelings in different ways. Guys are rarely the expressive ones in a relationship (that is, expressive through words). Though they may be the initiator, there is a bigger chance of you being the one to hold it up and keep the words going because they prefer letting their actions speak.
Instead of wondering what his use of words means, wonder what his actions mean because that gives you a clearer perspective on how much you are loved. Some people have never said the words, “love you” or “I love you” but every day, the actions of their partner remind them how much they are loved. So, there may not be much difference except for how the other person interprets it.
Infact, these words can be used interchangeably in different situations. “Love you” goes with the flow during a normal conversation and blends in somewhere between goodbye or appreciation.
“I love you” comes in when reaffirming your love or letting your partner know how much you mean to them. you shouldn’t totally rule out these notions because they are also super important in assessing your relationship. Someone else’s normal may not be yours, so you have to keep all these tips in mind and see where they serve you; otherwise, your relationship would not be moving as it should.
Finally, let’s end our discussion with this quote from Ayn Rand. This is a more descriptive notion and says a lot about the picture we have been trying to paint.
“To say, ‘I love you’ one must first know how to say the ‘I.’ The meaning of the ‘I’ is an independent, self-sufficient entity that does not exist for the sake of any other person. A person who exists only for the sake of his loved one is not an independent entity, but a spiritual parasite. The love of a parasite is worth nothing.” So, saying “I love you” is weightier and clarifying than saying “love you”.