How Should You Respond When Your Partner Says "I Love You"? Here Are The Worst Things You Can Say

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The truth is, if you're not ready to say "I love you"— and your partner is— there's really no perfect way to respond. It can be really awkward. "Responding to your partner saying 'I love you' before you're ready can be tricky," author and relationship expert, Susan Winter, tells Bustle. "[That is] if you don't feel for them what they feel for you."

But while there may be no right way to respond, there are definitely a lot of wrong ways to respond. Really wrong. And an AskReddit thread let it all hang out as users shared the worst ways to respond to those three little words. Some of them they've said, some have been said to them, but they all have a high cringe-factor in common that will leave you feeling grateful it wasn't you.

There are definitely ways to make it easier when you're in a similar situation where you may not be ready to say it back. Rather than panicking or saying the first thing that comes into your mind, take a deep breath and give yourself a second to think things through. "Tell them the depth of your feelings, in detail," says Winter. "Include the ways in which they make you happy and add value to your life. If you can't yet say 'I love you,' then it's best to describe the growing emotional connection you're feeling your mate. This provides security, as it shows you're both moving in the same direction." Just explaining things fully will help you soften the blow.

And what shouldn't you do? Well, here are the worst things to say back after someone says 'I love you', because they'll make you feel a whole lot better about that time you just blinked a lot.

1Swear It Out

AskReddit

If you can only think of one word to say, this is the wrong word.

2Nothing But...

AskReddit

... laughter is not always the best medicine. Sometimes it's just salt in the wound.

3A Patronizing Pat

AskReddit

That is condescending as hell and so infuriating.

4A Look Of Pity

AskReddit

That's even more patronizing. How?

5A Show Of Gratitude?

AskReddit

This one probably gets used IRL the most, but that doesn't mean it ever sounds good.

6Straight-Up Shock

AskReddit

Talk about awkward.

7Silence

AskReddit

Just being quiet and trying to tap dance your way out of it — no fun there.

8This. ThisThisThis.

AskReddit

Ugh.  It sounds like a better plan in the short-term — but it's so much worse in the long-term.

9Nope

AskReddit

You can almost hear their heart break in two.

10Apparently?

AskReddit

I feel like we need the rest of the story on this one. But there's no way it was good.

11Anything?

AskReddit

True that — but only if you mean it.

12This Denial

AskReddit

This could make things uncomfortable real quick.

13BUDDY

AskReddit

Probably the most inappropriate time to use the word 'buddy' that I can possible think of.

Like I said, there's never going to be a right thing to say to "I love you'" if you don't love them too. But you've got to be careful in picking your words, because there are some pretty awful ways to respond.