What to do when you accidentally say I love you.
August 19, 2011 1:30 PM   Subscribe

I accidentally said "I love you" to the guy I've been dating for 3 weeks, and now I feel awkward.

I've been dating a pretty awesome guy for a little over three weeks, and we both agree that the other is awesome. We are exclusive but not official (because, holy crap, we've only been dating for three weeks).

Last night in bed after some drinking and sexy-time, I accidentally said "I love you" to him, and then I immediately said, "OH NO, I DON'T REALLY! AT LEAST NOT YET! andnowiwanttoeatmyfaceoff" and kind of freaked out/got super-embarrassed. He was nice about it and said that it wasn't that big of a deal, but now I feel super-awkward and weird about blurting out something that I typically place quite a bit of weight in/wait a while to say.

Metafilter, please help me feel less awkward about this and give me stories about times when you've said "I love you" when you didn't mean it but were totally potentially on your way there and it worked out fine. I know I'm overreacting/being too hard on myself, but I just feel a little mortified.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am a firm believer in that a special allowance should be made for the inadvertant post-coital "I love you." Afterglow brain chemicals and all that.
posted by griphus at 1:35 PM on August 19, 2011 [12 favorites]

Chill. I've done that before. It worked out fine. Things we say when under the influence of alcohol and hormones are not to be trusted further than they can be thrown, and most adults understand this. As long as he's not a total Neanderthal, it should be alright.

another person I know let it slip that her accidental "i love you" to her romantic partner was in response to being cock-slapped. so, you're by no means alone on this one.
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:36 PM on August 19, 2011 [7 favorites]

My friend said that after the girl he was with accidentally said the "I love you" about 10 seconds later she added, "when you do that to me."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:38 PM on August 19, 2011 [8 favorites]

Yeah, this happens. It'll be OK. Just ignore it and move on.

(However, if you want to make a big, silly deal about it to relieve your awkward tension, this can be done through a really cheesy child's valentine that says something like "I THINK YOU'RE TOPS" with a picture of a spinning top on it.)
posted by phunniemee at 1:39 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I said this while inebriated after the same amount of time as you mentioned and then we said it to each other for real the very next time we saw each other.

Just mentioning since it's amazing how much an accidental I love you can end up working out without ignoring it.
posted by zephyr_words at 1:41 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know someone who said it by a completely accidental fluke when getting off the phone with their boss ("love you, bye" like you do getting off the phone with your SO or parent or whatever). Yet, everyone lived. I think everyone knows things slip out sometimes.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:43 PM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

It will be fine. You are allowed that. I did it once. We dated for four years after that.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:43 PM on August 19, 2011

My now-husband accidentally did that to me while falling asleep one night early in our relationship (wasn't as early as three weeks, I think, but pretty close). I was just like, "dude! Do you know what you just said??" and said I wanted to wait to say it until I was ready (which didn't take too, too long). The fact that he's now my husband should indicate that it all worked out well. He may be in here to comment once he sees this question and will give you the other side of the story.
posted by pised at 1:43 PM on August 19, 2011

Once upon a time, I'd been with a guy about as long as you've been with yours when I accidentally said "I love you" earlier than I meant -- partially out of just completed sex glow, partially because I hadn't slept in a few days up (which is like drinking but just no one knows your drunk) but mostly because I totally felt it at the moment even though without the other two things I would have never said it.

And because I was so overwhelmed for the reasons listed and then overwhelmed with trying to take it back and explain it away, I started to cry uncontrollably.

He calmed me the fuck down and we'll have been together 6 years this fall.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:46 PM on August 19, 2011 [9 favorites]

I have said "OK bye, I love you!" to a client when hanging up the phone. A new client. Who I'd never met. Now that was an awkward follow up call...
posted by DarlingBri at 1:46 PM on August 19, 2011 [63 favorites]

I know someone who said it by a completely accidental fluke when getting off the phone with their boss ("love you, bye" like you do getting off the phone with your SO or parent or whatever). Yet, everyone lived. I think everyone knows things slip out sometimes.

Holy christ I do this all the time. I really hate talking on phones and get awkward and nervous and lose the ability to pay attention to what I'm saying--and sometimes I just run on autopilot. I've said "love you, bye" to bosses, customer service representatives, clients, not-close-enough friends...hell, I've probably accidentally told half the country that I love them. I also tend to end voicemail messages by saying "thanks, jen" or "talk to you later, jen" as if I were signing an email.

This always results in me hanging up, thinking "wait a second, did I really just say that?" and slamming the phone against my face because I'm a dumbass. But it always turns out OK.
posted by phunniemee at 1:49 PM on August 19, 2011 [17 favorites]

I accidentally referred to a girl I was dating as my girlfriend way earlier than I intended to.

We've been together 10 years as of May.

Sounds like he's fine with it. I wouldn't worry.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:53 PM on August 19, 2011

Love should be freely given, honestly said when it's felt, with no expectation of the feeling being returned. Savor the emotion, enjoy it and revel in the power that it brings you, how it makes you feel alive.

To say I love you first is a brave thing, a good thing. You should be proud.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:53 PM on August 19, 2011 [36 favorites]

If the guy I was dating told me he loved me and then said "OH NO, I DON'T REALLY! AT LEAST NOT YET! andnowiwanttoeatmyfaceoff", I would respond exactly like your SO did. except in my head I would think "he loves me wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"
posted by pintapicasso at 2:08 PM on August 19, 2011 [19 favorites]

exclusive but not official

I don't understand this. But to answer your question, don't stress, it's not that big of a deal.
posted by amro at 2:14 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't overthink it.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:20 PM on August 19, 2011

I can beat that. I met my boyfriend on a dating site and we'd been emailing and talking on the phone for less than a week when we met for the first time. We wound up spending the weekend together (what can I say, it was just right) and I said you-know-what during nookie some time during that weekend. It was weird for a minute and he was a bit taken aback, as you might imagine, but we're still together and doing great 3 years later.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 2:38 PM on August 19, 2011

Oh, and I work in a family business, but I'm not a member of the family, so I've gotten "I love you" from co-workers and supervisors a few times, just because they say it to each other all the time. No big deal--we laugh about it and go on.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 2:51 PM on August 19, 2011

Gosh, I get the honor of having done the accidental "I love you" to a new boyfriend AND to a mortgage borrower I had on the phone when I worked as a collector.

Both worked out fine:
He said it back (we'd known each other for years) and we are now married.

The borrower, an older lady, laughed delightedly and said, "Oh, honey! I love you, too! That's some good customer service, there!"
posted by thebrokedown at 2:57 PM on August 19, 2011 [14 favorites]

Three days after meeting my now boyfriend, we were falling asleep, and he told me "love you" in his sleep. TWICE. I think because I didn't respond the first time. Somewhat confused, I just patted him on the head.

I did, however, tease him mercilessly about that later.

A couple weeks after that, we were falling asleep when he asked me if I would marry him in 6 months.

That one I've been forbidden from ever mentioning again.

I don't think it's really a big deal as long as your new guy doesn't conclude that you're a creeper. It will probably become very funny to you guys if it works out.
posted by wansac at 3:41 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

At risk of seeming to contradict myself tonight on the green, I think someone who is lying naked in bed with you should be prepared to hear that.
posted by tel3path at 3:46 PM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Pretty recently a girl I had been seeing started to say it to me in bed and caught herself and finished the sentence appropriately. What came out was "I love... THIS BODY!" and then she humped me maniacally. I loved it.
posted by palegirl at 3:53 PM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

The year was 1994. Straight, male, 10-year-old foursentences was an up-and-freaking-comer on the Advanced Group social ladder: he was, if you can believe it, the fifth-most-popular kid in the class*. Somehow he had engineered to do the Group Project About Knights with the first-most-popular and second-most-popular kids in the class (also both male) -- a major coup, and his path to the big time -- a chance to edge out three and four! Pride goeth before etc. As the call wrapped up, he announced, "I love you, Grandma" to the world at large, then hung up in stupefied embarrassment, leaving that as his sole valediction, and leaving two confused popular kids on the line together to discuss his pending demotion to seventh-most-popular.

*We kept an enumerated list at all times. We also assigned one another "ranks" -- CEO, CFO, all the way down to janitor -- and wrote up complex hierarchies of who could "fire" whom. We must have been a very obnoxious Advanced Group.
posted by foursentences at 3:53 PM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

stories about times when you've said "I love you" when you didn't mean it but were totally potentially on your way there and it worked out fine

(Oh, and it worked out fine. I finished the year in a respectable fifth place.)
posted by foursentences at 3:55 PM on August 19, 2011

In the throes of afterglow but under total self-control, I once said, "There is a sense in which I love you."
I acknowledge how weird that is.
Just got an email from her, decades later, saying, "I remember the joys of afternoon sex."
I bet my weird declaration had something to do with the memory.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 4:03 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

During sexytimes early in a relationship, I once heard an "I love you" followed by a very loud "OOPS," complete with embarrassed hand-over-mouth gesture. It was adorable, I was not creeped out.
posted by inging at 4:07 PM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

I blurted out those three words while at an ATM with someone I'd been seeing for two weeks. She didn't hear, but heard that I'd said something. I refused to repeat it, and she almost broke up with me on the spot because I wouldn't explain myself. After a few tense minutes, I came clean, and we were together for 12 years.
posted by unsound at 7:18 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I mumbled out a sleepy "loveyougnight" to one of my girlfriends the first time we slept together, and gosh was I embarrassed when I realized what I'd said. I was sure that my blush was lighting up the room, I was so mortified. She just laughed, said "awwww, you're sweet" and teased me about it later. The ability to relax the brain-to-mouth filter (especially in a nice comfy vulnerable moment like that) is a *good* thing.
posted by lriG rorriM at 7:54 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've had a similar situation. I believe the other person said it first, maybe even a week in, and after a shocked moment, I totally said it back. The thing is, it was true at that moment! Because what is love but the certainty that you love someone and the willingness to commit to caring about their needs like your own? And at that moment, and for weeks thereafter, it was true for both of us.

We didn't know one another well, and the reality turned out to be that we couldn't actually give one another what we needed. So our commitment was short-lived. But the fact that we fell out of love quickly didn't change the fact that for that month or so, we truly were very much in love. So, I don't regret it; it was an honest mistake on each of our parts.

Anyway, I think you handled it perfectly, demonstrating both that you really feel in love with him at the moment and that you view love as a commitment that you take seriously. (Or something like that.)
posted by salvia at 8:31 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I thought I was the only one who had done this.

We're not together anymore, but I don't think me saying "I love you" at 3 AM after being front row at DAVE MATTHEWS AT THE FREAKING GORGE and both of us flying 36+ hours then driving through two countries and three states in seven days to see seven DMB shows, of which that night was the seventh, had anything to do with it. Tired + endorphines = accidental professions of love. Well, I say accidental, but I actually did love him at that point. He made an excuse about "not wanting to say it until he was sure"...and he never did. And now we're both happily married to other people on opposite sides of the world.

Wait, what was I saying?

Oh yeah: don't worry about it. What will happen between you two will happen regardless of a small attack of logorrhea on your part.
posted by guster4lovers at 9:17 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

My ex said "I love you" on the first day we met during sex (we had met online and been friends for a year but I was still in FWB mode then). Sure, it was extremely awkward and I just pretended I didn't hear it, but we continued to date for two years and it was one of the healthiest most loving relationships I've ever had partially because of that slip up, as it made is much more vocal/communicative about our emotions.

Don't worry about it. Try to see the humour in it, if you can, and don't be so hard on yourself about it.
posted by buteo at 3:04 AM on August 20, 2011

I did this, during bedroom activities of course, on a third date with a guy. I did SERIOUSLY like him, but I didn't mean to blurt it out right then. What made it funnier was that he had said it to me, apparently lucidly, on our first date. Still not sure if that was accidental or not, and as soon as he wakes up, I might roll over and ask him (together for 7 years, married for 4).
posted by timetoevolve at 6:26 AM on August 20, 2011

Yeah, count me in as another person who shared my (true at the time) feelings "too early". It was weird because she was going on vacation (without me) the next day so we didn't have a chance to talk about it, but at the moment she's in the kitchen making her half of breakfast and waiting for me to put the bacon in, and we'll be together two years in November.

Seriously, theres not enough expression of love on the planet these days, and 'i love you' is not necessarily a 'im in deep romantic love with you and i want our relationship to last forever and if you dont feel exactly the same way ill be crushed'. In some sense expressing love for our fellow person (especially if that person just got us off) is what we're all here on the planet to do.

Relax and enjoy.
posted by softlord at 8:10 AM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was the person who heard the premature "I love you" from softlord, so I can give you the other perspective. At the time, I definitely freaked out. I think I started crying because I had just listened to an episode of Savage Love where this exact situation came up and Dan said that it demonstrated "bad judgment" or something. So I was like, "Damn, this was going so well and now I know that he actually has 'bad judgment.'" I really overreacted and made the whole thing much more awkward than it should have been. So, hey, at least your guy was cool about it!

Of course, it blew over fairly quickly and I said it a few weeks later, which canceled out all the drama. This doesn't have to be a big deal. In the beginning of a relationship, I think the "I love you" means something different than it does a few years down the road. I think it's more of a "I'm falling in love with you" sentiment, which doesn't have to mean, "clear out your drawers, I'm movin' in!"
posted by pourtant at 9:24 AM on August 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

To be fair, Pourtant had a drawer not too long after this conversation. But thats another story. And probably chatfilter.

Short version: if this relationship lasts, it'll make for a fun "hey, remember when..." story down the road.
posted by softlord at 9:40 AM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't have very much advice to offer you in regards to it working out (I said ILY in my last relationship and then it blew up in my face - but that was because he had a true fear of committment and it was after dating for 8 months). BUT, I will say that currently, the dude I've been seeing for about 3 weeks now blurted "I Love You" to me this past weekend. I just smiled and said thank you and hugged him back and just explained that I'm not there yet and to just be patient with me because I have a horrific dating past. Because it's true. I don't love this dude I'm dating...yet. I think it could turn into that for me, but it's too early. So, I'm sticking around until I realize how I feel and will take appropriate action then (either stay if I DO love him or go if I don't).

In the meantime, I'm not going to rush things and just enjoy them and let things develop at their own pace. Because I see the potential, I'm being very careful to not change any of my actions or attitude towards him since the ILY-bomb was dropped. If I were in your shoes, I'd pay attention to his actions over the next week or two. If nothing changes, then it's no big deal. If he goes running for the hills, then maybe it's a good thing because then you're not wasting time?
posted by floweredfish at 10:54 AM on August 22, 2011

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