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What To Do if You Accidentally Said I Love You

Sophie Simons
February 6, 2024

The first time you say “I love you” is a moment worth remembering. It can be a pleasant memory or a quite awkward one, especially if you said it by accident. You must be confused whether you were the one with the slip of the tongue or your partner.

So now, what could you do? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with a carefully assembled list, but before we dive in, let’s talk about the meaning of saying those words. 

What does it mean if someone says “I love you” by accident?

It can be habitual, circumstantial, or even a slip of the tongue. You should always think about the context of the given situation. If it led to an uncomfortable atmosphere, simply explain why you said it. If you feel it, then it was most likely a Freudian slip! 

Many people claim to have said it accidentally when talking to friends, new partners, or even business associates over the phone. In such cases, it is important to clarify the situation. If you hang up, call them back immediately, and don’t let it sit in the air. Its reason is merely habitual.

When saying goodbye over the phone, or even in person, you are, as the Good Mythical Morning channel calls it, in “wrap-up conversation mode”.

If you had been talking to a loved one before to whom you said the L-word, and then you talked to someone soon after, you may automatically end your conversation with this phrase. In this case, just explain yourself. The other person will understand it. You don’t need to feel uneasy about this or cringe about it for years at 3 a.m.

If you have been dating this person for a few months and you started to catch feelings, it could have been a Freudian slip! Feelings are tricky, and sometimes you might not even be aware of them until you say “I love you” by accident. At this moment, both you and your partner might be confused.

It’s completely natural not to be sure about your feelings, especially early on in the relationship. Feelings tend to come like waves. Sometimes, they are more intense, and this could lead you to say things impulsively.

Now, before you act, try to figure out your feelings first. If your partner startled you with this accidental confession, keep calm, and most importantly, don’t lie. If you’re not feeling the same way, don’t try saying it back because your partner will feel that it’s not genuine.

It could have been due to the intensity of the moment. When on a romantic date, things could get hot, leading to some spontaneous expressions. According to an MIT study published in 2011 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, men tend to say “I love you” before going all the way, whereas women say it after. As explained by them, the reason is that men may try to gain their partner’s trust this way so that they can boost their chances of being in a relationship.

This could be just a momentary impulse, not a strategic lie. They’ve also determined that while men associate those three words with physical fidelity, women consider it as the expression of affection and commitment. If you’ve said it in this context by accident and afterward you don’t feel the same way, don’t repeat it, and don’t bring it up. Let yourself see how you’re feeling in a couple of weeks. 

What to do if you accidentally said "I love you"

Whether you were the one saying it or your partner, there are a couple of things you might want to do:

  • Remain calm.
  • Think it through and figure out your feelings.
  • Be gentle and don’t lead your partner on.
  • Don’t avoid your partner.
  • Don’t push for an answer.

Taking back "I love you"

Don’t take it back (if you meant it). It is not as good a damage control as you might think. Taking it back doesn’t change the fact that you’ve said it; what is more, it could be evidence of one of your deepest feelings, ones even you are not aware of, that is, you might love this person.

Taking back an accidental confession of love could hurt you even more, so it would be best to get to know your own feelings first before saying anything you would regret afterward. However, if the phrase really just slipped out of your mouth, totally unintentionally, taking it back can actually be an option for you.

If you want to explain yourself, you can tell him with compassion that although you do like him, it slipped out in the heat of the moment. Taking back these three words doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have feelings for that person.

You may just need some time to get to know each other even more before you can say it out loud with deep meaning. Come clean, and don’t wait for your partner to overthink it. If you don’t want to initiate talking about the topic, just wait and see if he does. You may not know your partner’s thoughts or how he understood the message. 

Is saying “I love you” accidentally a red flag?

Hearing those words could be a red flag if your partner said it only after a couple of weeks. If you haven’t known each other for a long time and you are currently in the phase when you are trying to get to know each other, this could mean no good.

Try laughing it off without being too obvious about your being uncomfortable. Act as if it was a joke. It is okay to be cautious from that point forward as, according to the Love Strategies YouTube channel, saying it too early may indicate that your partner is indeed an impulsive person.

He could even be saying it to take a step forward in your relationship. Even if that’s not your partner’s intention, it could be problematic in the long run. Being impulsive could indicate being impulsive in the future.

Your relationship may be great and exciting in the beginning, but after its decline, he might start chasing after something new. 

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Sophie Simons

Sophie Simons is a leading psychologist with a passion for enriching relationships. Through empathetic counseling and insightful guidance, she empowers couples and individuals to foster deeper connections, resolve conflicts, and create lasting harmony. Sophie's expertise in relationship advice has touched countless lives, making her a trusted source for building fulfilling partnerships.

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