You know that awkward moment when he says he loves you and unfortunately you don’t feel the same way? You get tongue-tied and overwhelmed by feelings of confusion as you look for a way out of the moment without embarrassing or hurting yourself and him. Is there a way to react that would leave you both unscathed? What should you do when told ‘I love you’ and you don’t feel the same way?
a. Make eye contact and ignore the ‘I love you’ statement! Since you don’t feel the same way as he does you want to let him down gently without hurting him and ruining your friendship. You should maintain eye contact so that he understands that you have heard him but that this is not a path that you want to walk on. You can even nod in acknowledgment that you have understood and heard him but instead of talking about it you should instead go on to another totally unrelated topic. The problem with this response is he may think that you feel the same way but you just don’t want to admit it or talk about it. This is especially true if he just doesn’t want to face the reality of the fact that you don’t love him. He can continue deluding himself as you did not say anything definite.
b. Tell him right of that you like him only as a friend. This requires a little more courage than the 1st option because he is more likely to be offended by a direct response. When he says ‘I love you’ then you can tell him that you appreciate him and like him as a friend but nothing else. And you have to be absolutely clear that you do not love him. He may try to talk you into loving him and you have to know for certain that you do not love him otherwise you will leave a door open in his mind and that can be a source of future friction for both of you. Don’t be rude or nasty but say your piece in words and in a tone that is kind and understanding. If he gets angry with your reply remain calm and understanding as his ego may be more injured than you imagined or thought. Remain calm as you have no reason to be upset and you shouldn’t let him bait you with his anger.
c. Let him know you have heard him and you are thinking about it. If you are not sure about how you really feel about him then this is the best option. Maybe he is your friend or colleague and you have just never thought about him romantically so his declaration catches you off-guard. Let him know that you appreciate his honesty but you don’t really know how you feel about what he has said and ask him for time to sort out your feelings. Let him know that what he has said has surprised you and you need time to absorb what he has said and determine how you feel. Give him a time frame of when you can give him a truthful response. And be honest with yourself so that you don’t just say ‘I love you’ back to him just so that you are not alone. Say it only if you really mean it and he is someone you could be in relationship with.
Being told ‘I love you’ by someone who you do not love can be very disconcerting but if you handle yourself with honesty and decorum then you can get through it with minimal damages to him and your relationship. But if he is an immature and self absorbed man then regardless of how you react the relationship will be affected detrimentally and there is nothing that you can do.