“I Love You” Versus “Love You”… Is There A Difference?

LoveDo you think there is a difference between someone saying “I love you” and just “love you?” I ask this question because personally I think there is a difference. I tend to say “love you too” when I am responding to someone I don’t really love. I usually tend to say “love you” to someone I don’t love in a romantic way, but in a friend or familial way. I prefer to save the “I love you” for someone I am truly in love with or when I am really expressing admiration to someone.

So is there a difference between the two?

I did a quick internet search and came up with some of these responses:

  • I say it more than “I love you”. I also say “loves”. For me, it’s just the way I say it, and the way my whole family tends to say it. We miss out the “I”. When people say “love YA” though, that bothers me. Again, it could just be the way they say things, but to me it seems insincere. It depends entirely on how they say it to others and any underlying issues with intimacy they may have. I have a lot of emotional issues so mine could well speak for that if only it wasn’t just the way we said it in my family. *shrugs* I guess I’m trying to say it’s entirely a “relative to the individual” thing as far as I see it.
  • Nope. “Love you,” is just something we say when hanging up the phone or closing an email. It’s more casual, but the meaning is still the same. It’s like “hello” versus “good morning”. We say, “I love you,” when hugging each other or being sappy during vacation. The phrase just depends on the circumstance
  • I say ” love you” allot to my husband (we tell each other several times a day, at random times) I don’t see a difference from “I love you” vs “love you” just the way I say it
  • I think there is a difference, The ‘love you’ one is more flippant and almost dismissive IMHO I hate “love you” I also hate “love u” and “ilu” all are dismissive hurried and lazy.
  • Defnitely a difference! While I am fine with “love you” it is nice every now and then to get a truly heart felt “I love you”. Just means more…
  • Well I tell my hubby “I love you” but I tell my best friend “love you” so meh I feel there is a difference but it also depends on the person as well. it may mean something different to them than it does to me or you.
  • I also think that HOW it is said makes a difference, I like to say I love you, and I am in love with you to my man and love you to my children as they walk out the door, I love them, but in a different way
  • The last two guys I was involved with both changed from “I love you” to more flippant responses like “love you” or “love ya” and both relationships went south about the same time.
  • I think it all depends on the context and the relationship of the people saying it. I used to get upset with my ex for saying ‘love you’ a lot, but it was usually because I was annoyed with him for other things and that was just an easy target to nag him about.
  • i tend to say love you alot in a kidding sense so i guess there is a difference.
  • I think the words “I love you” are very powerful, and people have dismissed it and reduced it to almost nothing, like the anoying – I whatever-.
  • Absolutely NOT! I think it’s silly to even think there is a difference. The difference is in the tone, not the words! Feelings are displayed in the tone! Simple as that!

So it looks like people have many different views on the subject, probably depending on their personalities, their relationships and their experiences.  I think however if in a relationship one person uses the words “love you” and their partner feels a certain way about it and would prefer to hear the more personal “I love you”, then that should be communicated. Otherwise, the person that prefers to hear “I love you” will most likely always feel a little sting when you lovingly say “love you”.

So what do you think? Is there a difference between “I love you” and “love you”?


36 thoughts on ““I Love You” Versus “Love You”… Is There A Difference?

  1. My boyfriend and I will be going on one month tomorrow. Here’s the thing. I’ve known him since the third grade and am now in ninth. we started dating a while ago and stuff. ya know. But the question I ask myself is… “Does he really love me?” He switches often from “I love you” to “Love you”. There definitely is a difference. It’s the same thing with “Goodnight” versus “Night” and “I’m sorry” versus “Sorry”. I know he loves me. But since I’m paranoid, and insecure, my habit is to refuse to see that.

    1. Hi Anna… the first thing we have to work on is YOU! Why are you paranoid and insecure? We definitely have to get you out of that way of thinking about yourself because that is not going to serve you well in any relationship. As far as your boyfriend goes, have you tried to tell him how you feel when he says “I love you” versus “love you”? Sometimes what’s important to us just isn’t as important to the other person and they have no idea that what they are doing is making us feel a certain way unless we tell them. I had to do this with my girlfriend of almost two years and she definitely tries to say “I love you” more than she used to, but occasionally I’ll still get just a “love you”, but I know she is trying. One month isn’t a long time, but you have to ask for what you want or one year from now it will possibly be an even bigger issue.

  2. My boyfriend and I have been together for about 4 months now. Its a long distance relationship, so it is hard at times but I feel its so worth it at times. We both live our own lives and sometimes its hard to make time to skype (we also live in slightly different time zones). We text a lot so its not that bad. Sometimes..I’m not sure if he loves me in the same way I love him..but other times I do feel it..I just get insecure..Like why would someone as awesome and wonderful as him go out with me..or I get scared he will leave me for some one closer to him..He’s always on my mind..I’m not sure if its a bad thing..Sometimes..I wonder what he thinks..but I’m too scared to ask him..

  3. My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost an entire year yet we have not even touched. He lives in England and I live in America. We are an ocean apart. He will never admit it but he is the one that said “I love you” first, even though he added a “sometimes” at the end so he wouldn’t sound creepy. He would say, “I love you sometimes,” whenever I would make him laugh or be a complete goof. Ever since the beginning, when I told him that I loved him sometimes too, we have been comfortably saying that we love each other, regardless of wording or phrasing. He often says, “love you lots,” and I often say, “I love you.” It’s just the way we say it. I love that he says it differently. We are different. It assures me that no matter how different we are, we still have love that holds us together. I think that should be all that matters. We love each other so much and one day we will be able to show each other that through not just our words but our gestures and small face-to-face chats that I fully anticipate a lot of in the future.

  4. I think there is a difference. What is so difficult about saying the “i” in the beginning? It has a whole lot more meaning than just saying the simple phrase “love you.” No matter what in a relationship you shouldn’t ever change up how you say it to your significant other. If you started out saying i love you then keep it that way. don’t switch it up and start saying love you. cause to some people that may lead them to think that they are doing something wrong. No matter the situation, you should never change it. My girl changes the way she says it every now and then because i can tell something is wrong. Like whenever i tell her i have to go do something that night like i have to DD some people, she’ll say
    Okay, “Love you” and it just stings me and when i bring up the fact that her saying love you bothers me, she still does it. I just think saying I love you definitely has more meaning than just a simple love you.

  5. I have been with my husband almost two years and we usually use both mostly on the phone or if he is busy at work he says love you, overall he says i love you.. i usually tell him when he’s half asleep and then he says love you too. i see no different in how we use it but we have been in love with eachother for years.

  6. I think there is a big difference honestly. In my opinion. If someone really loves you that could stop being lazy and just add the I . it means more to some people. 😻

  7. so see my girlfriend and i were having a fight about if there was a difference and after she sent me this link i changed my mind on if there was a difference before i read this i said there was no difference and now i think there is!!!

  8. To me there is more meaning when someone says I love you compared to love you like if I tell my boyfriend I love him and he says love you 2 to me it’s like who loves me but when he says I love you the feeling is more strong I just think it’s more meaningful when someone puts I before it

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  10. Well to me honestly there is a difference between ” I love you”, and ” I love you too”…the meaning of I love you is a very powerful saying to someone whom you really love or are in love with…verses you just saying I love you too that means your just agreeing with the person with saying I love you too…that’s the way I think the differ is between the two…

  11. I am 77yr.old guy. Many of the responses here for get that “I LOVE YOU”, really means that you connect and truly signify an intimate relationship.

  12. My boyfriend switches from “i love you” to “love you” kinda has me confused if he loves me or not, it bothers me. But I’m afriwad that if I ask him he’ll flip out on me

  13. To me” love you “leaves out the subject and it makes me feel that you are just going through the motion of the emotion. I love you says it more from a personal way. There is no question of who is loving you

  14. I totally prefer to say I love you instead love you , because sounds like you loves anything not specific a person

  15. My Fiance’ & I have been dating for a little over 7 years. It literally drives me crazy that i heard him say to one of His Girl Best Friends that he has known about 10 years that he Loved Her.He Said I Love You Too when she said I love You George.He Dont Even Say I LOVE YOU To Me…..EVER.I Get Love Ya Or Love You & it seems like it kills him to say it.

  16. My boyfriend and I have been dating almost 6 months. He says ‘love you’ but never ‘I love you’. I’m starting to think he said it just to appease me.

  17. Alright so here is a kicker my wife started saying i love ya too to a childhood school friend that she has not seen in several years until this past weekend. Which I was greatly offended by her even saying that to another man who is not part of her family let alone the conversations have been going back and fourth for a little while and up until this weekend after seeing him he stated i love you kisses and she stated i love ya too and i of course freaked out because since gettingnmarried i have never told another women i love her other then my own family members . So my question to all of you is there really any hidden meaning or is it simply the same all around because we have 2 small kids and i am not willing to have her tear my heart out in front of my kids ? So am i just over reacting to all of this or am i feeling how i should be feeling hurt and betrayed?

    1. Hi Dan, in this situation you probably know best. I personally do not like to here my person tell another man that she loves them even if it’s “love ya”, but I know for me that comes from some insecure places and hyper-vigilance about infidelity based on my experiences. If I know the guy is gay for instance, it doesn’t seem to bother me, but if it’s a heterosexual guy and I think there may be some interest on either or both sides, then it does bother me. From my experience I usually just chalk it up to my issue and not hers and let it ago unless I feel like I am being blatantly disrespected. In that case, it’s a good idea to sit down and voice your concerns. Maybe she’ll help you understand that it’s nothing, but either way, you deserve to have your concerns addressed. Thanks for reading!

  18. I have bee dating my bf 4 abt a year n i month. Recently he started acting strange towards me. Almist like we’r not in a relationship. When i complained he always says its because we r nw reading different things at the university. At 7mths into the relationship, he often said “love you” n not the “i love you” which i see to be more intimate n connecting. I feel bad abt it bt I’m scared of telling him because he may gt it wrongly or even get angry or tell me I’m always complaining. What do i do?

    1. Hi Jennifer. Tell him how you feel. Communication is the key in relationships and too many relationships suffer or end because of poor communication. If something is bothering you tell him and if he gets mad then see that as a clue to either accept it or move on. Relationships change over the years, but a month is very short so either his feelings towards you are changing (maybe he doesn’t see it as being that serious) or he just doesn’t know that when he says “love you’ you prefer to hear the “I love you”. He at least deserves the opportunity to change his language towards you.

  19. At school, we had a couple of exchange students who were from a different country than I am in. There was this girl who was an exchange student, but every time she jokes about me in front of me, afterwards she would say “I love you”. I didn’t know whether this was sincere or not. Can someone explain it?

  20. My girlfriend and I have been dating for a little over 4 months. We met through an online dating service. We communicated via text for well over a month before we finally decided to meet. Corresponding that way in the beginning allowed us both to truly get to know each other. A week or so before we met for the first time we were already hinting at being in love without actually saying those 3 powerful words. We wanted to see if we had the same connection in person as we did through talk and text. Needless to say we hit it off in person as well and we’ve been saying ‘I love you’ since. That is until about 2 or 3 weeks ago… right after Christmas. You see, a month before that I revealed some unsavory news to her about something I had done. It was nothing against her but the revelation still tainted my character and she wasn’t too thrilled about it nor did she like the fact that I waited so long to tell her. Trust was slightly broken but she claims to have forgiven me. Ever since our connectiveness has slowly dwindled away. Back to about 2 or 3 weeks ago… we live about 45 minutes apart so most of our expressions of love are through texting. And that’s when the ‘love you’ and ‘miss you’ started to creep in. I’ve never brought my concerns of that in particular up to her. Although I have mentioned to her the other things I’ve noticed that have changed. I am a Cancer so I notice even the most subtle changes in anyone’s demeanor, actions, words, you name it, I’ll pick up on it with lightning fast speed. Anyways, she claims she doesn’t know what’s wrong and that it’s just stress with work, home, and whatnot. I guess I’ve brought it up so much she has been suggesting we take a break for a few weeks to see how we feel then. I finally agreed to it and even added an additional stipulation that severs communication until she figures out what it is she wants. I’m basically giving her all the space she needs to accomplish this and hopefully it doesn’t come back to bite me on the butt! I do love her. I’ve fallen her daughter as well (we are like besties). I hope she can connect whatever dots and find her way back to me but I had to let her go to do that.

    Anyhoo, so sorry for the long story that almost has nothing to do with the topic of the thread but I felt I needed to share. However, in regards to the topic, here is how I feel about it. ‘I love you’ should be reserved for spouses, your children, parents, close family and friend… and I believe it is definitely more meaningful and sincere than its counterpart ‘love you’. I know from personal experience. So, if your significant other starts dropping word from that sentence or just noticeably changes it up over time then there might be a good chance something is going wrong.

    Remember, removing the ‘I’ lessens the value on ‘love’ and essentially all that is left is, ‘you’.

    That’s it. Thanks…


    1. I think some people do not even notice there is a difference between I love you and just love you. But I think they really mean I love you. That is my opinion. I say love you to my Mom and I love her
      to the fullest!! I guess it depends on how that person feels about it.

  22. My husband and I have been married 43 years. He now is in the Philippines. He hardly talks to me and when he does it’s about 2 mins. He says love you but I feel like he don’t.

  23. My husbands family constantly says “love you” to each other–whether in person and on the phone. My family did not say that and when we did say it, we said I love you–but very sparingly. My husband tells me “love you” which gets me thinking about “does he really” or are these just words. When he is drunk or gives me a card on special occasions, he writes I love you. Could “love you” be an appeasement? How can I tell if he really means it or it is a tendency for control? Like I love you because I don’t want to be alone. He has had 2 failed marriages before me–always blaming his ex’s. This is my second marriage, but he is a right-fighter and likes control. For the most part we get along well. But now his son of 35 is living with us and has been a strain. When I tell my husband how I feel (as I am a private person) he tells tunes me out, but gets upset when I stop talking because I am not talking (or responding to his loud tone of voice). I don’t see a good outcome for us. I know he feels guilty about not raising his children, so now it is “making up for lost time” and he has a tendency to take his sons side.

    1. That is a tough situation to be in with your husband. As his wife and partner it has to be difficult having his grown son living with you guys and affecting your relationship. I’m sure he feels torn as well when and doesn’t want to take sides, but feels obligated to side with his son. Hopefully this arrangement is only temporary. I’ve still been doing a lot of research on the “I love you” versus “love you” theory and still think that “I love you” just personalizes it more although I do hear couples who appear deeply in love say “love you” instead. You proposed some really good and personal questions. Controlling people tend to use anything they can to control other people including words and often it’s subconsciously. I am sure he doesn’t want to lose you, but perhaps he hasn’t learned to work on the parts of himself that contributed to his other failed marriages. Even if he blames the exes, we both know that most of the time the other person also played a role in the failed relationship, even if it was a passive one. When we don’t fix the flawed parts of ourselves we just carry them over into the next relationships. Try to find a time to sit and talk to him when you’re both calm and let him know that you don’t want to argue, but you want to have a conversation. He needs to know and hear how you feel without it turning into an argument or as you said, the outcome may not be good for you two.

  24. I love you should be used in a relationship where its an action. LOVE IS WHAT LOVE DOES..
    and what is LOVE if you don’t/can’t give it away.
    love ya or love you is just a kind phrase we use to make things in any relationship simple.

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