Listling Without Commentary: Things We Say When We’re Not Quite Ready to Say “I Love You”

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Sometimes you just aren’t quite there yet, but maybe you want to be.

I made this with my heart.  (Via

I love your pineapple.

Things We Say When We’re Not Quite Ready to Say “I Love You”

1. I like you.

2. I heart you.

3. I miss you already.

4. You’re my favorite.

5. You’re special.

6. You make me so happy.

7. I opposite-of-hate you.

8. I really really really really like you… but not in the uncomfortable way.

9. I’m in like with you.

10. Honey, you’re just… you’re just great. Real… great.

11. If you were, like, my friend, I would totally say “I LOVE YOU” right now, but I can’t because we’re really casually dating.

12. You’re the best.

13. I super like being around you.

14. I like your face.

15. I like-like you.

16. I liiiikkkkee you.

17. I’m twitterpated with you.

18. I adore you.

19. I less than three you.

20. I made waffles.

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Lizz is a consumer, lover and writer of all things pop culture and the Fashion/Style Editor at She is also full time medical student at Brown University in Providence, RI. You can find her on the twitter, the tumblr or even on the instagram.

Lizz has written 261 articles for us.


  1. Or you know, you could just send them a link to a video of DeAnne Smith singing a nerdy love song on a ukulele with a kitten. Not that I’ve ever done that or anything…

  2. 20 is the best. I’ve done many of these.

    also I really like saying terrifying things while giggling? like “I like your head. I just want to take it with me.”

    Your results may vary with stuff like that.

    • My friend once asked me if she could borrow my head over winter break. I was kind of (completely?) in love with her. (Even though I still thought i was straight. HOW.)
      If you were talking to me your results would probably be good, is what I’m saying

  3. My best move to date is probably playing Likke Li’s “Little Bit” while they’re brushing their teeth before bed and then acting like I had nooooo clue what was happening when they got back. “Oh, this song? It’s just catchy. Don’t you like it?”

  4. Is it bad that my first thought at the picture wasn’t “Aww how cute” but rather “Aahhhh! Pineapple!” The joys of severe allergies.

    • Rae

      Oh god me too! I have allergies to the spiky skin of the pineapple though, not the noms itself.

  5. Kae

    If an awesome lady used #20 on me, it would probably be even better than ILU. Honest.

    • An awesome lady used #20 on me. True story. I almost got in my car and drove to Georgia. (From Michigan).

    • I created an account to say that I love your picture!! DS9 is my favorite, and I just watched Far Beyond the Stars for the first time yesterday!

    • My girlfriend recently texted me with “I want to make you brunch.” And it actually meant a tonne :)

  6. I’m usually, “I’m really really into you. WHAT. I dunno. I didn’t say anything. I don’t have feelings. Shut up and go away.”

    I’m working on it guys.

  7. “hey i brought you some coffee (even though you didnt ask me to)”
    bc grad student life.

    • I was totally gonna say that and just scrolling the comments to make sure nobody had yet :P

    • YES!!! My wife and I watched Scott Pilgrim together during one of our first dates and we say “I’m in lesbians with you” to each other all the time, even though we got past the too-soon-to-say-I-love-you part years ago. :)

  8. Or you could send the lady in question a Pablo Neruda poem and then not really mention it in person ever…

    • I love your feet
      because they have
      wandered over
      the earth and through
      the wind and water
      until they brought
      you to me.

    • I once bought a used book of Pablo Neruda poetry, and on the inside someone had written, “When I look at you the stars seem to fade away. I’ll stand by you in the night forever until you notice.”

  9. Do responses from fictional characters count?
    “I’m gonna give you a hickey! [,Ke-Niki]*leaps on top of her* I’m gonna give you a hickey right now!” – Jenny Schecter

  10. “I lobe you”

    oh autocorrect, you knew me better than I knew myself

  11. I like to say,”I’m in cahearts with you.”

    Cahearts: Cahoots of the heart.

  12. These are all so adorable!
    My girl and I use/have used a couple of these along with ‘I love you’.

  13. Or you could hand over a mixtape filled with equal parts Magnetic Fields, Ingrid Michaelson, and Iron & Wine. And then run away. Fast.

  14. I can tell you what NOT to say “Thank you” Good manners are not always the best fall-back strategy.

  15. Thanks for reminding me that I keep meaning to buy a waffle maker, cause damn it I may not cook much but waffles are awesome

  16. Dammit Autostraddle, get out of my head! Between this and the journalling post…oh man. My life.

    Also I was totally going to go for the “I really really like you” last night but then my girlfriend and I were interrupted mid-makeout and I had to go home. Alas. I will try again next date!

  17. Back story: I was long-distance dating a guy at the time, she had just the night before broken up with her boyfriend, my colleague (how I knew her.) We were prone to long walks together, tea, reading each other our poetry, and finding every excuse to hang out all the time and I was freaking out about how hard I was falling for her without even knowing if she would ever date a woman. I’d told my boyfriend a couple months before I was having feelings for someone else and it was confusing me. She called me and we went on a walk….

    her, taking my hand: I think you’re incredible and I really like you.
    me: I really like you too!
    a little while later, still holding hands
    I really like you.
    I really like you too.
    I mean, I really really like you.
    I really really like you too.
    *dying of suspense does she mean what I think she means???* finally
    me: “When I say I like you, I mean, I think you know the way I mean.”
    her: “I do know what you mean, and that’s what I mean too.”

    It went exactly like that, except with more suspenseful hopeful declarations of like.

  18. this just reminds me of the episode of that 70s show where eric can’t tell donna he loves her so he tells her… “i love cake.”

    i love pie tho

  19. Jen

    Or “Goodbye, I love you!”

    Step on bus, realize what you said, frantically send a very long text message explaining that you didn’t really mean to drop the l-bomb and it just kind of came out and there’s really no pressure because you know you’re only casually dating and that’s totally cool and you’re still totally down with the casual thing but you just really like them and the words just kind of fell out of your mouth, you know?
    Then sweat profusely while waiting for a response text that hopefully says you can just laugh it off and be normal.

    Not that this has ever happened in real life, of course. Just hypothetically, this might be a thing that happens to a person.

    • For hypothetical comparison purposes. Not because I once did this.

      • Jen

        they hypothetically were remarkably understanding and not at all freaked out and we were able to go on and be casually dating slash whatever. hypothetically, though, this may have been influenced by the thousands of miles that were subsequently put between us when they hypothetically moved to the east coast.


        • Just hypothetically? ;)

          (Also, how do I nominate things for comment awards?)

  20. Send a long and complicated letter about how you don´t know what to say because “I have a crush on you” is too fifth grade and “I love you” is more possessive than you´re allowed to be considering that she has a boyfriend and so you´ll just stick with quoting WizardRock and songs from Catholic youth service.

  21. My M.O. Is to bring candy and pastries to the object of my affection. I specially recommend bringing it to her at work, so she can share it with her co-workers. That way they will like you too (why wouldn’t they? you are bringing candy!) and she will spend all day at work around people who tell her how great you are and asking her when you’re coming over again.
    Oh, chocolate croissant, I owe you so much….

  22. Mel

    Had a flashback to the final Seinfeld episode when Elaine told Jerry “I love U…nited Airlines.”

  23. Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how amazing that stock photo is.

  24. I drunkenly told the girl I was seeing that she smelled so good I constantly wanted to lick her skin…

  25. Tia

    But, I made my friend waffles…Does this mean I’m in love with her? Am I in love with her…? She has said at least half the things on that list to me. Is she in love with me…? A conundrum. Looks like it’s time to sit down and define our relationship.

  26. 4 & 14 are my go-tos.


  27. I kind of just say “I love you” when I want to, but I have to say I don’t often feel the urge to tell people I love them.

  28. “So, I know we’re not serious at all, but sometimes I feel like saying ‘I love you,’ like just automatically, and I’ve always caught it so far, but I just wanted to warn you in case I slip cause I know we decided to stay casual and it’s way too soon anyway, I just think it sometimes and I wanted to put that out there.”
    “I think it sometimes too, you know, just in natural moments like after saying goodbye or something, I don’t want to trigger your commitaphobia, but I totally know what you mean, don’t worry about it! It wouldn’t mean anything or anything, I know we’re not that serious.”
    “I mean, if you did slip and say it, I promise I wouldn’t mind…”
    *2 hours of this later*
    “I love you.”
    “I love you too!”

    This is how commitaphobic my girlfriend and I were at first. And how much processing it took to get over that. Haha

    • aj

      This sounds like a conversation that may be in my near future. “If you were, like, my friend, I would totally say “I LOVE YOU” right now, but I can’t because we’re really casually dating.” was a little too close to home, but I might steal your version as a script to get around that.

  29. “i heart you?” is that like “i love you” for pussies?

  30. MT

    I once got “I like you more than this pen…and I love this pen.”

  31. You can also probably go with the always appropriate “I love lamp”.. ::look at them:: “almost as much as you”.

    very solid, unless they an aversion towards lamps.

  32. You can also probably go with the always appropriate “I love lamp”.. ::look at them:: “almost as much as you”.

    very solid, unless they have an aversion towards lamps.

  33. I tend to say that I love doing things with the person I’m in love with before I’m actually ready to say ILU. “I love spending time with you” “I love making pancakes with you” etc…

  34. This is so freakin cute.
    I often pull “I have a huge crush on you. Still. Yup.”

  35. liz

    When my partner and I started to get serious but not l-word serious, we came up with our own hedge-word and it was “lush”.

    “I lush you”

    Basically we were the cutest

  36. Autumn!

    Before me and my girlfriend said the big L word, she would always say stuff like “I love spending time with you” or “I love being around you” or “I love this or that about you” lol it was soooo cute ☺️

  37. Emily

    Mine is “I like you a lottle”, its like a little but a lot

  38. ‘I want to marry your hands & mouth’.

    What commitment – phobia?

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