I already know that "Ich liebe dich" is said to someone whom we love and we look for a relationship with him, but I have a friend who is very close to me, I appreciate her, we help each other and listen to our mutual problems, is there a possibility that she misunderstands me if I say to her "Ich habe dich lieb (/hab dich lieb)"

  • I would recommend not using that expression with someone who is not family.
    – Carsten S
    Dec 25, 2013 at 22:37
  • If it is your best friend I would say "Ich hab' dich lieb" is okay! Nevertheless, you should consider whom you tell this and whom not. Dec 25, 2013 at 22:44
  • is there a sentence I can say it to her (without confusing) to express her closeness from me as good friend not like the others
    – Khaled
    Dec 25, 2013 at 22:47
  • E.g. 'Ich mag dich sehr/wahnsinig gerne' Dec 25, 2013 at 22:51
  • 1
    @Click actually this also can be damn confusing. This sentence can be understood as a hidden "ich liebe dich" so also here caution is needed!
    – Vogel612
    Dec 26, 2013 at 12:57

1 Answer 1


The following is all under the premise that there are no unknown factors that make it unlikely that the respective statement is misunderstood romantically, e. g., a large age gap.

Though you can reduce the risk that “ich habe dich lieb” is misunderstood romantically almost to zero by timing and intonation, this is a very difficult task even for a native speaker.

Of course, if you obviously are no native speaker, the other person will most probably instantly recognise the possibility that you meant the respective other thing – but unfortunately this goes in both directions. So, a phrase that bears a relatively low risk of being understood romantically if uttered by a native speaker like “Ich mag Dich sehr gerne“ is even more likely to be considered as a possible mistranslated romantical advance if uttered by no native speaker. (Similar problems appear with gestures by the way, e.g., most Germans do not know that holding hands has no romantic connotation in some cultures they (wrongly) perceive as rather conservative and reluctant towards body contact.)

So, if you really want to avoid an awkward situation at all costs, I would recommend to avoid unspecific statements of appreciation altogether and instead specifically thank her intensively for her help or something similar. However, this way less appreciation is conveyed – even more so, if your native language or culture bears the cliché of overly intensive thank-yous. So it might be wise to enter a little risk of misunderstanding here, especially since the fact that you are very good friends makes it even more likely that you can easily solve a misunderstanig or avoid it altogether by non-verbal communication. However, at the end of the day, you have to weigh the arguments and decide.

PS: The only way I came up with that avoids disambiguity is to explicitly mark the statement as non-romantic, e.g.:

Ich hab dich lieb (und das ist jetzt nicht romantisch gemeint).

However, this is most probably not a very good idea either, since it can lead to another bunch of awkward misunderstandings, like your friend thinking that you think that she has romantical interest in you, which you want to reject. It may be even hurtful, if your friend actually has a crush on you.

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