17 Best Phrases To Use To Say 'I Like You,' According to Relationship Therapists

Two people drinking coffee on a couch together while flirting

You can't stop thinking about someone. You get butterflies when their name appears on your phone's lock screen. Seeing this person is the highlight of your week. When you're together, life feels so...easy. Yet, when you go to tell them all these things, your heart gets caught in your throat. You just want to know exactly how to tell someone you like them.

Why is it so hard to express our feelings?

"It can be extremely vulnerable to share that you are romantically interested in someone," says Kayla Crane, LMFT, of South Denver Therapy. It can create a lot of self-doubt, and vulnerability is not something that comes naturally to many people."

Crane adds that it's normal to fear rejection or uncertainty. In short, you're not alone if you're struggling to find the words to tell someone you like them. Relationship experts provide tons of short and sweet phrases to help you tell someone exactly how you feel.

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How To Tell Someone You Like Them: 17 Best Ways, According to Relationship Therapists

1. "I really like spending time with you."

Don't overlook this one because it seems too predictable or doesn't resemble something you'd hear while watching a Hallmark holiday movie marathon.

"Confessions don’t need to be dramatic monologues or huge displays of fireworks," says Gloria Zhang, M.A., a registered psychotherapist and relationship coach and host of the The Inner Child Podcast. "Sometimes, less is more."

2. "I have fun when I'm with you."

Humans like to be liked, and this phrase is a smile-inducing way to play to that desire.

"Most people want to think that they're a lot of fun, and when you say this, you reinforce to them that they're likable," says Amy Morin, LCSW, a psychotherapist with a forthcoming relationship book called 13 Things Mentally Strong Couples Don't Do.

3. "You bring positivity into my life."

Psychotherapist, speaker and dating/relationship expert Rebecca Marcus, LCSW, loves this one because it highlights a person's impact on you. Moreover, Marcus says the phrase "fosters joy and admiration."

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4. "I can't stop smiling around you."

Forget all the talk about fluttering hearts and butterflies.

"Start with your permanent smile around them," Zhang says. "Acknowledging the positive impact someone has on your mood lets them know that their presence really makes your day."

5. "I feel really happy when I'm with you."

Crane recommends this phrase, which is a variation of No. 4.

"Here, you're sharing a piece of your heart," Crane says. "It's a sincere way to let them know they're a source of your happiness."

6. "Time with you is valuable to me."

They say time is money, but this phrase is a priceless way to show you care. Marcus suggests it because it is a sincere expression of affectionate appreciation.

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7. "You bring out a different side of me that I like."

This short sentence packed so much feeling into a few words.

"This will help the other person feel special as they see they have the power to draw out something from you that other people don't," Morin says.

8. "I can be myself around you."

Morin calls this option the "ultimate compliment."

"People want to know that others are comfortable with them," Morin says. "It shows trust."

9. "I've been thinking about you a lot lately."

The more straightforward nature of this phrase makes it one of the boldest ones on the list.

"If you have the courage to open up a bit more, try a more vulnerable confession," Zhang says. "Sharing that they've been on your mind suggests that you are developing deeper feelings and that they take up space in your head."

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10. "I've been wanting to tell you I have feelings for you."

This phrase gets right to the point too.

"It's honest and brave, showing you're not afraid to be open about your feelings," Crane says.

11. "I appreciate you."

This phrase seems to have risen in popularity even in the workplace, but it feels more genuine when telling someone you like them.

"Everyone wants to feel appreciated, and when you show you appreciate someone for who they are, not just what they do, they'll feel great," Morin says.

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12. "You're really special to me."


"Letting someone know they are special implies a unique and important place in your life, signaling that your feelings for them go beyond the ordinary," Zhang says.

13. "You make my life better."

This five-word sentence is all sorts of powerful.

"This helps the other person see that they add value to your life," Morin explains.

14. "It's nice to spend time with someone who understands me."

This phrase invites connection.

"People want to feel understood, and telling someone that they understand you will make them want to keep getting to know you on a deeper level," Morin says.

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15. "My favorite thing about you is…“

Zhang suggests filling in the blank with your favorite trait. It can be a cute quirk or something you admire, like a person's fierce determination.

"Complimenting a specific trait shows that you're paying attention to who they are as a person, more than mere looks or as a friend," Zhang says.

16. "Hanging out with you is always the highlight of my week."

Want more dates? This phrase opens that door.

"This is a sweet way to put some feelers out and, hopefully, also put more events on your calendar," Zhang explains.

17. "I'd love to get to know you even better."

Another phrase that puts it out there: You want to connect more deeply (and often).

"This is an invitation to grow closer, suggesting a shared journey of discovery, which can be really exciting," Crane says.

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4 Tips for Telling Someone You Like Them

1. Visualization

Morin recommends what's called "imagined exposure."

"Imagine yourself being brave and saying something even though it feels a little scary," Morin says. "This will help you find courage when you need to practice in real life."

2. Write it down

Break out the pen and paper (or your notes app).

"This will help you get your thoughts sorted out so you can make more sense of them," Morin says. "Then, you'll be less likely to fumble for words when you're in the moment."

One caveat: "Don't memorize a script as you want your words to be heartfelt, but do develop a plan for what you might say," Morin explains.

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3. Practice

You practiced in your head. Now, say the words aloud to someone else...but not the person the words are meant for (yet).

"Rehearse your confession with a trusted friend," Zhang suggests. "Our friends are usually honest and can point out their suggestions on how you can show up as your most authentic self."

Two bonuses: "You’ll probably both get a laugh or two out of the experience, and you’ll also have a shoulder to cry on if things go sideways," Zhang adds.

4. Scrap the script

Throw all of the above out the window and wing it.

"There’s a reason why Oscar winners have been known for tossing their thank-you speeches in the wind," Zhang says. "In the moment, you may just want to speak from the heart."

Zhang recommends keeping one thing in the back of your mind, whether you stay on script or go off of it.

"What’s important is remembering that you are enough, exactly as you are, and the right person will be able to appreciate your sincerity," she explains.

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