I Don’t Love You: How to Tell Someone You Don't Love Them

Or, you no longer love them or haven't figured out if it's love.

i don't love you

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When people say "I love you," it's often considered a big step in a relationship. What is not discussed as often is how to respond if someone says "I love you" and you don't feel the same way or are unsure about how you feel. Another challenging conversation to have is acknowledging a change of feelings about them, such as realizing you have fallen out of love with them.

While it is important to communicate honestly and openly about your emotions with a partner, it's not always easy to express them out loud, especially when it is something as difficult as saying "I don't love you."

Experiencing unrequited love can be a painful, heartbreaking, and sometimes an embarrassing situation to live with. In some cases, you might be the recipient of genuine love but struggle with communicating that you do not feel as strongly. Other times, you may feel the beginnings of strong emotions towards a person. However, a little more time may be needed to confirm your feelings, before saying those three words back.

Read on to learn how to navigate different instances where love isn't shared by all involved.

When You Are No Longer in Love With a Person

At the height of a relationship, it's hard to imagine life with anybody else. Their laughs bring you joy, their pain is a shared ordeal, and your every moment seems dedicated to knowing this person more intimately.

However, these feelings are not always sustained or may appear to have less intensity over time. In such cases, it may not always mean that you have lost interest in your partner. Neither is this a certain indicator that love is lost in the relationship. It could simply mean that the relationship has entered a rut and could benefit from a renewed spark.

But there could be cause for concern if you actively avoid speaking to or spending time with your partner, especially if you are exhausted from trying to repair the relationship with no improvement or reciprocal effort, if you fight constantly (or have become too apathetic to fight), or have stopped helping or supporting each other.

Other times, your feelings have shifted toward someone else. These situations may result in a change in emotions which are important to communicate.

To communicate to your partner that you no longer love them, the following are advisable steps to take.

Be Sure of What You Want to Do

Before telling a partner or person you are in a relationship with that you no longer love them, it is important to take time to carefully and thoughtfully consider the source, delivery, and impact of this decision.

This means if you're still on the fence about what you feel, or if you're upset immediately after unresolved conflict, it doesn't have to mean speaking words that may not be true.

However, this changes where there is a breakdown of communication or your attitude towards them has changed significantly. If you no longer care about your partner's actions or needs, if you find yourself pulling away physically and emotionally, or if your feelings of love are focused elsewhere, this may reveal you are no longer in love.

Speak to Them First About the Change in Feelings

Despite many hopes of experiencing love at first sight, romantic feelings tend to build over time. In the same vein, these feelings are unlikely to turn off overnight.

When you start to experience the first few signs that you're losing interest in a partner, it's always advisable to speak to them first.

This means taking the time to speak about the changes in your feelings, or how you view the relationship. 

This extra effort can help to revive the relationship. Likewise, this choice of action may be preferred over denying love at the first sign of trouble.

Communicate Your Feelings Kindly

After thinking deeply and communicating concerns with your partner, dissatisfaction with your relationship may remain. In this case, where you are certain of having no romantic connection left, your significant other should be informed.

To do this, your choice should be shared gently and with the utmost respect for the person you once held strong feelings for. You can support and encourage them to ask questions and speak openly about their own feelings.

It is important to avoid blaming them for the change in feelings. Talk about your emotions with honesty, but remember to prioritize kindness while they process your decision.

To recap, here are some tips for talking to your partner:

  • Share this difficult decision in a private, quiet, and comfortable setting.
  • Explain that your feelings have changed in a kind, gentle, and honest way.
  • Refrain from getting into an argument or a debate about why your feelings changed.
  • Use neutral statements that don't blame or shame.
  • Don't offer false hope about a possible change in the future if you don't mean it.
  • Be clear, concise, and kind.
  • Allow space for their feelings, reactions, and questions.

You might say something like: "It is important for me to be honest since I value and respect you and the time we have shared together. My feelings for you have changed and I still care about you, but I am no longer in love with you."

When You Do Not Have the Same Feelings for Them

An "I love you" from the right person can be amazing to hear. However, despite how flattering it might be to hear those words, there are times when they come from a person for whom you don't have those same feelings. This is especially true when expressed by someone who you have little chance of experiencing romantic feelings for.  

In such cases, it might be best to cut the cord quickly before feelings grow even deeper. This can be achieved in three simple steps.

You might consider saying something like: "Thank you for sharing your feelings. I think you are a wonderful human with a beautiful heart. I also want to be honest with you that I don't feel the same way, and I hope that you can connect with someone who can and will feel the same way."

Appreciation

When looking to turn down a person’s romantic confession, a key thing to remember is kindness. This can be achieved by showing appreciation for how they view you, and their feelings towards you. 

Appreciation should be shown with sincerity and an understanding of how difficult the next few statements might be to them.

Praise

While looking to let an admirer down gently, another move to make is praise for their positive attributes. A compliment on their appearance, brains and other features may be useful in giving assurance of their desirability. This should however be done in moderation, and with respect.

The Turndown

After showing appreciation and giving modest praise, the next step is a gentle rejection of their feelings. Honesty is always advisable and may be achieved by simply saying you do not feel the same way towards them. 

Sparing their feelings by claiming love for someone else, or other embellishments is not wise. This is because they may simply wait for a day when you are available to reciprocate their feelings and this would constitute as leading someone on, which is unfair to them and to yourself. So, it's best to refrain from lying to spare their feelings.

Speak clearly, and above all, with compassion when passing the message across.

It also may be a good idea to distance yourself from them for a bit so they don't get the wrong idea about your feelings for them. Also, on the flip side, if the person does not react well or engages in any form of abuse because you do not reciprocate their feelings, you have every right to end the relationship completely and remove yourself.

When You Are Just Learning to Love Them

Sometimes, you meet a person and connect with them on a special level. In these cases, the possibility of falling in love with them might not seem too far off. However, this doesn’t stop you from choosing to wait before making your feelings known. Your delay may be to avoid making any missteps. 

Unfortunately, this may not be the case for them. The strength of their feelings can cause an early reveal of feelings for you. Where a person does this and you don’t feel the same way just yet, simply communicating this may not be enough to manage the situation.

Begin by letting them know that you enjoy their company, and have grown fond of them. Acknowledge and appreciate their feelings, recognizing the features you admire most about them.

In giving a direct response to their feelings, however, let them know that you value the blossoming connection. Clarify that you are heading in that direction, but would like a little more time to build a stronger bond with them.

Because it’s easy for this conversation to sound like a gentle rejection, make it known that there should come a time when you say those words back. You simply want to enjoy the process of falling in love with them, without jeopardizing things by moving too quickly.

You might say something like: "I am really enjoying our exploration and discovery. I feel warm, supported, cared for, and safe with you—but I'm not ready to say that back yet. I want you to know that I feel a growing emotional connection between us and appreciate the time and opportunity to keep deepening our connection and feelings for each other."

A Word From Verywell

Love can be a tricky feeling, especially when it is unrequited. Breaking the news that you are not in love with a person can be hard, as considerable pain may result. While standing firm in your choice is important, this message should always be conveyed with kindness and respect. 

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2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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