Alex: I, uh...When a character can't bring themselves to properly confess their love, so they either make a statement to similar effect or one that is totally unrelated. The character on the receiving end of the pseudo-confession usually understands what they mean, often responding with something along the lines of "I [first character's statement] too." Sometimes a subtrope of Emotionally Tongue Tied. May be related to Cannot Spit It Out. Compare Aborted Declaration of Love.
Emma: I uh you too.
Emma: I uh you too.
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- An advertisement for Bud Light has a man with trouble spitting out "I love you" to his ladyfriend but has no such problems when it comes to his beer.
- An ad for M&Ms had a woman confessing her love to Red. He replies with the uninspiring (but technically correct) statement, "I love... too."
Anime and Manga
- In the Gundam universe:
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam: Domon Kasshu. Then again, when Domon DOES spit it out in the middle of an "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight to the Brainwashed Rain, it's BOTH a Moment of Awesome and a heartwarming moment. And it freaking saves the world.
- And let's not forget Garrod Ran from After War Gundam X, who's so scared of being rejected by the Barrier Maiden he has a crush on (since poor Tiffa's been treated like an object for most of her life) that he can't bring himself to spit it out, since he thinks he'll be no better than her previous abusive caretakers.
- School Rumble. Poor Tenma uses up an entire scroll trying to tell Karasuma she likes him, but never quite gets it out.
- She actually got it out. The problem is she forgot to sign it.
- Actually, the problem isn't as much not being able to spit it out as unrelated circumstances preventing them from spitting it out. This is how Tenma herself remains oblivious of Harima's feelings, for example (going so far as to misinterpret it when he actually spat it out to her).
- She actually got it out. The problem is she forgot to sign it.
- In I"s, this is how the Official Couple finally spits it out.
Iori: Whom did you want to confess to?
Ichitaka: Uh... you.
Iori: ...I thought it was one-sided.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, even in the very last chapter, some people still can't get over their chronic Cannot Spit It Out disorder.
Ed: Winry! Uh... Um... How do I say this? Er... Like an appointment, or a promise, right?
Winry: Huh? Just spit it out.
Ed: Equivalent exchange. I'll give you half my life... so give me half of yours!
Winry: (Confused, then frustrated). Argh, why are alchemists like this?
- In Kodomo no Omocha, Akito can't say "I love you" about anything. Sana finally realizes he's coming around when he tells her "I don't hate you" in the same way he talks about sushi.
- During the Golden Week vacations of the characters of Hayate the Combat Butler, Kaoru gets a chance to be alone with his crush, Yukiji, and tries to confess to her. He can't finish the statement, and so turns it into a question about her little sister's relationship status. It seems that Yukiji seems to understand what the statement was originally (and 'responds' later in the arc), but her immediate response is to turn to her Hard-Drinking Party Girl ways and offer him a drink. She then (probably teasingly) asks him what he likes about Hinagiku (the younger sister), as if he had just confessed affection for her instead.
- Dragon Ball Z: Bulma and Vegeta may qualify as well. They blush and fumble with their words, a lot.
- Kamitani from Gakuen Babysitters toward his younger brother, Taka. The best he can manage is "I don't really hate you, either."
- Former Queen Arika in Mahou Sensei Negima! was incredibly bad at expressing her emotions due to her strict upbringing. So, when Nagi pulls a ridiculously awesome Big Damn Heroes moment and declares his love for her, she tries to avoid giving a response by pointing out why she can't love him (he counters this with a Dope Headbutt). So what does she finally say to him? "I don't dislike you". He gets a proper answer after a little more prodding.
- In Snarfquest, the heroine couldn't quite get out the critical word when parting company with Snarf: "I really, really lo- like you."
- Advice And Trust: During a pillow talk scene Misato and Kaji are fed up with denying their feelings and pretending their relationship is only "friends with benefits"... but they are too frightened to spit it out, so they struggle to find a way to tell "I still love you" without actually saying the words:
Misato: "I want 'us' again. I don't know if I can... say it, yet, but... I want 'us'. [...] If Shinji and Asuka can figure this out, how to get past the walls between them... we can too,"
Kaji: "I'd... like that, [...] Us. Katsuragi...I..."
- A Crown Of Stars: Even after getting together, Asuka was unsure of her feelings and frightened of loving and being hurt again, so she tried to find ways to tell and show Shinji that she wanted to be with him without saying the "love" word until she finally managed to spit it out.
Asuka: "You really are... for me."
- In the Dragon Age II fan-fiction Coffee, Black, Garret Hawke tells Fenris that he... loves pie. Subverted in that Garret thought Fenris knew what he really meant, but it comes out later that Fenris thought that Garret just really wished to express his love of baked goods.
- Once More with Feeling: During a school dance Asuka asks Shinji straightforwardly what is she to him. Shinji does not want to tell plainly he loves her because he is frightened of scaring her away, so he resorts to tell "You... mean a lot to me" and other euphemisms.
- In Cinderjuice, Lydia informs BJ that he's an idiot, but then softens it by adding, "But you're my idiot." Later, he reaffirms that he is, indeed, her idiot. Eventually it becomes their running euphemism.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion Genocide: Asuka can’t speak aloud how she feels about Shinji, so she settles on saying “Next time, just kiss me”, knowing that Shinji would understand her. And he did.
She couldn't say the words he wanted to hear, but she knew he understood her meaning beyond any doubt.
Films — Animated
- Brotherly example: In Brother Bear, after those two moose get in a fight, one is trying to make up to the other. He mentions how he always tells him where the juiciest grazing is because "I love... dew." The other responds, "I love dew too, eh."
- Mulan has Shang say "You... you fight good." And the way he says it is absolutely adorable. However, Mulan is disappointed to not hear something more direct.
- In Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Mr. Peabody has a lot of difficulty saying "I love you," to his son and usually says "I have a deep regard for you as well." However, by the end of the film, Peabody manages to say that and Sherman answers, with a warm smile, "I have a deep regard for you as well."
- Ratatouille has Linguini trying to confess his love for Colette, but he can't do it. "And I would follow you to the ends of the earth because I love you...r advice!"
Films — Live-Action
- Han Solo's famous "I know" when Leia says she loves him in The Empire Strikes Back. Classy response. The originally scripted line was "I love you, too," but that sounded too sentimental, so Harrison Ford ad-libbed. There is a rumor Carrie Fisher was so drug-addled she kept blowing her lines, in a scene that was already having technical problems, so the line was in jest out of Ford's exasperation. Except the director loved it, proving...
- And, of course, the Dialogue Reversal in Return Of The Jedi in which Han says "I love you" and Leia replies "I know". Hers was a heartfelt confession at a moment when they might never see each other alive again, his was in response to her indicating to her hidden side-arm when some storm-troopers got the drop on them. Both scenes are portrayed awesomely, as a result.
- The Sense and Sensibility movie has Edward say something along the lines of "I would express my feelings, if I could" and Eleanor says that she understands. However, she thinks that he loves Lucy, so she doesn't press; and he thinks she loves Colonel Brandon, so he doesn't press.
- Ghost: "Ditto"
- During the infamous toilet scene in Lethal Weapon 2, Riggs and Murtaugh share a moment, the dialogue follows thus.
Murtaugh: Riggs?...Long PauseRiggs: I know. Come on.
- The Apartment has one of the most classic examples, at the end when Fran and Baxter are playing gin rummy:
Baxter: I love you. You hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.Fran: [Smiling] Shut up and deal.
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: "I'm in lesbians with you." Counts as a subversion, due to Ramona's reaction.
Scott: ...I said "lesbians"...
- Happens in Far and Away, after Joseph and Shannon talk about their ideal futures.
Joseph: I pretend I love you.Shannon: I pretend I love you, too.
- In Apflickorna (She Monkeys in English), after Emma and Cassandra instantly hit it off and spend an entire afternoon chatting with each other, two guys try to enter the conversation. Cassandra gets them to leave by pretending to accept one of their phone numbers.
Emma: Are you interested in him?
Cassandra: [Laughs] No!
Emma: [Beat] I'm... not interested in him either.
Cassandra: [Freezes in surprise, then smiles]
- In Lagaan, Elizabeth is torn about whether to admit the feelings she's developing for Bhuvan. She ends up splitting the difference and saying it in English, which he doesn't understand.
- A variation in Demon Knight where the villain is trying to propose to the Final Girl, and fails miserably, because Evil Cannot Comprehend Good so much that the word itself is unutterable for him.
- The Collector: "I l-l-l-l-l you. I l-l-l-l-l you. Do you think you could ever find it in your heart to l-l-l-l-l me back?"
- In My Fair Lady, Higgins is so far into Confirmed Bachelor territory that he can hardly bring himself to admit that he even likes Eliza, quickly following his statement that he'll miss her with "...and so will Pickering - Eliza, you're a fool!"
- In Dragon Blood, there is a non-romantic example with Ward and his brother Tosten. Ward lampshades that he can't bring himself to tell his brother he loves him, because their father was a strong believer in Love Is a Weakness, and considered it unmanly to show emotion.
- In Blood Promise, Dimitri’s inability to say I love you made Rose realize that he just thought of her as a conquest now that he was a Strigoi. It is the main reason she finally decides to get off her drug-addled butt and try to kill him.
- Chimène to Rodrigue in Le Cid: "Go; I do not hate thee."
- In the last Percy Jackson book, after Percy fumbles through his feelings for several minutes, while Annabeth refuses to help:
Percy:"You are so not making this easy."Annabeth:"I am never, ever going to make things easy for you, Seaweed Brain. Get used to it."*She kisses him*.
- At the end of the Temps story "Sortilege and Serendipity" by Brian Stableford, Dr Sweetland tells his assistant Carol that he wouldn't wish his recent adventures on anyone, "especially someone I ... like". She looks at him oddly and replies "I ... like ... you too." Since she's Happily Married, they leave it there.
- Famously, in both the book and the movie, The Princess Bride features Westley saying "As you wish." He says it repeatedly, for years, until finally Buttercup realizes what it means.
Live Action TV
- In the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica, Laura Roslin finally tells Bill Adama that she loves him. His response? "About time."
- In one episode of Boston Legal, Alan attempts to express his appreciation for Tara by telling her "You really smell great." She answers "You smell great too," in an understanding tone of voice.
- In The Middleman, Tyler says to Wendy "I think I kinda love you." She gives him grief for it, but eventually admits that she kinda loves him too.
- In That '70s Show, Donna loves Eric. Eric loves cake.
Eric: I love you... *punches Donna's shoulder*...man.
- In Press Gang, Linda and Spike, unable to express their true feelings, resort to using anagrams, leading them to profess that "I vole you".
- How I Met Your Mother, Episode "First Time in New York." Ted and Robin. "Ted?" "Yes?" "...falafel."
- In Leverage, during "The Double Blind Job" Parker has feelings for Hardison.
Parker:So the thing is, I think I might be having feelings, like weird, weird feelings for... [beat] pretzels.Hardison: Well, they are right here when you want them.
- Later on during "The Big Bang Job" she adds that she's craving pretzels.
- Prue suffers from this in Charmed; the last thing she said to her mother before she died was "I love you." As such, she avoids saying the same to her sisters, lest the same thing happen to them.
- Wire in the Blood's first three seasons are full of Tony Hill and Carol Jordan dancing around their feelings for each other. In the third episode of season three, Carol asks Tony if he's ever loved another living thing:
Tony: I've been close.Carol: How close?Tony: Carol!Carol: Why can't you answer? It's a simple question. Are you ashamed?Tony: You. (After which he starts talking to the poster behind her.)
- Star Trek: Voyager. In "Gravity," Tuvok mindmelds with an alien girl to show her the feelings he can't put into words.
- In The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Big Pete cannot spit it out to Ellen ("I...I..."), to which Ellen responds, "It's OK, I know" and smooches him in the middle of a packed high school stadium.
- Parks and Recreation subverts this. When April tells Andy she loves him, he responds with "Shut up! Dude, that is awesome-sauce!" and tries to hi-five her. It eventually turns out that he can say it, he just genuinely thought that was an appropriate response.
Andy: I do love you. That's what makes the sauce so awesome.
- A friendship example happens in My Name Is Earl. While in a helicopter that's on a collision course, Earl tries to say goodbye to Darnell, but can't since he's twitching uncontrollably thanks to a few dozen doses of a knockout drug.
Earl: I just want you to know, that I've always-(twitches uncontrollably) Geet-geet-aaack!Darnell: I feel the same way!
Darnell: I can't tell you the truth because I love you too much, stupid!(beat)Joy: I love you, too, stupid.
- Also when Darnell tells Joy he can't reveal his past because it would mean having to leave her.
- In Season 4 of Dexter, whenever Rita says "I love you" Dexter says "Me too." Note that they are already married at this point. Somewhat surprisingly, this doesn't become a plot point possibly because Rita is murdered at the end of the season. Dexter later admits, while simultaneously realizing, that he did love her.
- Season 3 of Sherlock gives us this gem:
Sherlock: (looking down) John, there’s something ... I should say; I-I’ve meant to say always and then never have. Since it’s unlikely we’ll ever meet again, I might as well say it now. (takes a deep breath and looks up at John) Sherlock is actually a girl’s name.
- Happens frequently between Sam and Dean Winchester of Supernatural. During their last Christmas together before Dean went to Hell, Sam's "I love you" took the form of "Do you want to watch the game?" to which Dean's "I love you, too" was a yes.
- Happens twice in the All in the Family episode "The Stivics Go West." Mike tells Archie he's going to miss him, and later that he loves him. Both times Archie finds it impossible to reciprocate.
- Done at least twice in Mystery Science Theater 3000:
- In the episode featuring Space Mutiny, Crow and Tom are planning to crash space pods into the Satellite of Love, Tom shouts out "I LOVE YOU, CROW!" with Crow responding "I'M SORTA FOND OF YOU, SERVO!"
- In the Season Ten finale featuring Danger: Diabolik, when Pearl tries to destroy the Satellite of Love, Mike and the Bots rapidly say their goodbyes, with each one telling the others that they love them, but when it gets to Tom, he conveniently forgets Crow with spare seconds before the bomb duds. Tom claims he forgot his name, but Crow doesn't buy it.
- Said more then once in Red vs. Blue. (emotionally) "I hate you too."
- In Company, during April and Robert's offstage sex scene ("Tick Tock"), she tells him "I love you," but he can only stammer, "I—...I—..." Then all of his married friends can be heard saying "I love you" to each other.
- Despite how she feels being rather obvious, Tohsaka in Fate/stay night never really DOES get around to telling Shirou how she feels. In any route. She admits to liking some of his personality traits (usually to a third party) but when put to it responds to 'I love you' with roughly 'And like you said, I... I also don't hate you.'
- Yo-Jin-Bo has a couple of instances of this, due to the fact that the guys Cannot Spit It Out.
- Steins;Gate: When Okabe confesses to Kurisu just before he has to negate the D-mail that saved her life, Kurisu is too embarrassed to return the confession outright. Instead, she asks him to close his eyes and kisses him, giving the excuse that a strong emotional experience will help him not forget her. When Okabe gives a second confession after hitting the Relationship Reset Button, he's given the following answer just before the series ends:
Kurisu: Do you really want to know? ... Close your eyes.
- Super Dangan Ronpa 2: In his final Free Time event, Komaeda starts what sounds a lot like a Love Confession to Hinata, then revises it to say that he "love[s] the hope sleeping within you from the bottom of my heart." He does confess more decisively in the Drama CD, but Hinata isn't very receptive.
- In the Sci-fi arc of Dubious Company, this may have been Sal's response to Leeroy. Or she was just trying to answer his innocent but awkwardly worded question without getting more snickering from the rest of the crew.
- John and Margo from Gunnerkrigg Court do this here.
John: Uh... I-uh, I mean, it was- I had a... a, you know...Margo: M-me too!
- In the lonelygirl15 episode "Back Home", Danielbeast, who is recording a message for Bree, says "I still l... care about you."
- From Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Zuko: You're so beautiful when you hate the world.Mai: I don't hate you.Zuko: I don't hate you, too.
- From Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation:
- Babs: Oh, Buster, I didn't think that I'd get a chance to tell you...
Buster: Shh! I feel the same way.
- Daniel and Arcee in the Grand Finale of Transformers Generation One. He Can't Spit It Out and she takes mercy on him, simply saying that she feels the same way.
- Futurama has a subversion: Fry assumes this is the case, but:
Bender: I'll kill you!Fry: I'll kill you too, buddy. I'll kill you too.Bender: *throttles Fry*
- King of the Hill has a variation on the episode where Peggy finds Bobby is a better homemaker and assumes Hank doesn't need her any more. Hank wins her back by inviting her back home and showing her he cooked dinner for her himself, to a very competent degree. Of course, Hank is so boxed-in emotionally, he has trouble actually saying "I love you" to anyone except his dog.
Hank: I didn't marry you because you can cook or clean for me, Peggy. I married you because... Y'know. ..... The love.
Hank: (hanging on to a pole during a tornado) Peggy, I love you! Oh yeah, I love Bobby and Luanne too, to a lesser extent!
- He managed to say it when he thought he was about to die.
Boy I love shooting a nail gun...I love shooting a nail gun too.
- The trope is played straight in an episode where Jimmy Carter intervenes in the situation and gets Hank and his dad to be increasingly less vague about it. The episode culminates in this trope, and afterward Hank and Cotton even have a good time bashing Jimmy Carter...
- The best part is that Hank and his dad were fighting because Hank actually blurted out "I love you!" to his boss in front of everyone when Strickland finally promoted him to full manager. Everyone is aghast, Cotton is furious/disgusted (but won't admit he's actually just jealous of his son's affection), and Strickland ends up taking back the promotion the next day because it was so embarrassing.
- In Family Guy's The Empire Strikes Back parody, Something, Something, Something Dark Side:
Leia/Lois: I love you.Han/Peter: Fuck off.
Stewie: [whispers] I love you.Brian: What? What'd you say?Stewie: Uh, olive juice.Brian: Olive juice?Stewie: [whispers] Olive juice, you too.
- An earlier episode had Meg telling Lois she loves her. Lois just mumbled something at the "love" part.
- Not to mention this was during Meg's wedding.
- When Brian teaches Stewie ballroom dancing:
- An earlier episode had Meg telling Lois she loves her. Lois just mumbled something at the "love" part.
- A semi-example from Justice League Unlimited between The Question and Huntress in "Double Date":
Huntress: Then why do all that? Why risk your life for me?The Question: Because I...(he turns his head, muttering) like you.
- Phineas and Ferb: 'Cause when I say "I love you", she says I gitchi gitchi goo you too!
- The Gargoyles season two finale.
Elisa: You know how I feel about you, right?Goliath: How ... we both feel. Yes.Elisa: Good. *kisses Goliath*
- In the end of the God, the Devil and Bob episode "Bob's Father" Bob is making peace with his dead father as they're watching a hockey game on TV in a bar, but instead of saying outright how he loves him and is going to miss him, he tells a story about how he misses Wayne Gretzky. His father knows exactly what he's trying to say.
Bob: I miss Gretzky, y'know... I wish I'd gone to more of his games. You don't appreciate someone like that until they're out of the game. I mean, one time on his way off the ice, he stared right by me and I looked up, our eyes met and I didn't say anything. I wish... I had told him... how much he meant to me. And now I will never be able to.Bob's Father: I think he knows.
- A non-romantic variant: In one episode of the Beetlejuice cartoon, Beetlejuice's younger brother Donny is visiting, and falls into a depressive state. Lydia urges Beetlejuice to cheer him up by telling Donny that he loves him. Beetlejuice can't quite bring himself to go that far; instead, he manages to say, "I... don't hate you like I used to." But it's close enough for Donny, who immediately perks up.