Billie Eilish’s “I Love You” Meaning

The premise behind American singer Billie Eilish’s “I Love You” seems to be based on her boyfriend half-jokingly reciting those selfsame words to her. In his doing so, he has brought about unwanted ramifications, with Billie now gushing with emotions that she is not particularly keen on displaying.

This is because, self-admittedly, she is the type of person who prefers to keep her emotions concealed. However, hearing the words “I love you” come from her boyfriend’s lips have left her vulnerable because she feels the same way too, and now in one way or another that sentiment shows.

It is not told exactly how Billie responded to being told “I love you”. But one thing that is certain is that in the process, she made her boyfriend cry. And based on the song we can hypothesize a couple of possible, though contradicting, theories as to how she replied. One is that based on Billie’s standard of keeping her feelings concealed she possibly gave an inappropriate response. 

I Love You lyrics

In other words, she was not able to say ‘I love you’ back and probably even said something off-putting. Another less likely explanation is that she did express the same sentiment, and dude being the sensitive type started crying. But considering that she states he is not the crying type, the former theory is more-plausible.

Ultimately what can be definitively gleaned is that this guy took a big risk by saying these words to Billie and in the process opened up a floodgate of emotions. Eilish also states throughout the song that she loves him also. However, it is also likely that she does not possess the wherewithal to tell him these words outright.

43 Responses

  1. rekt says:

    “the sensitive type” stfu a man can cry when in emotional pain

  2. Brooklyn says:

    I thought it was about xxxtentacion’s death

  3. Mma says:

    That is “maybe won’t you …” not baby

  4. Jessica says:

    Lol, when i can cry by just hearing this.

  5. Josie Authement says:

    Its about her friends death, not an ex boyfriend. She says at the end of the song that she loves them.

    She even said it at one of her shows, when he cried during the performance, that its dedicated to a friend who past away.

  6. noah says:

    this is actually about a friend passing away in 2018 if you see interviews about the song.

  7. DC says:

    I just want to say that I believe that this song is about a friend telling her that they love her. The lines, ” Tell ourselves a good lie ” And ” I wish we never learned to fly ” mean that they were good friends and now things will change because they love each other. This is my opinion.

  8. Lana Manaoat says:

    This song is literally what is happening to me right now. Thank you Billie for this song because it helps me with my feelings. I feel like I am safe when I listen to your songs. Thank you.

  9. Makayla says:

    her song 6.18.18 is about X’s death

  10. Kat says:

    I’m crying from reading these comments lol

  11. No nameee says:

    This is abt x’s death, she balled her eyes out at one of her own concerts on the one year anniversary of his death… painful ?

  12. Eyelashhhh says:

    I thought it was “maybe won’t you take it back…”, not “baby won’t you take it back…”

  13. Eli98 says:

    I think you guys are all making a huge confusion with this song. I’m quite sure it’s not about X, his death or their friendship, since none of these would match the (obviously romantic) arc that’s developed in the lyrics, being rather just dedicated to him, unless they were friends who fell in love with each other, which I don’t think is the case here. A song that is dedicated to someone doesn’t necessarily has to be about this person or about a factual thing that happened between them, since the term ” dedicated to” generally refers to a rather more abstract association, which can be the most random ones, like being inspired by his work while writing this specific song and then dedicating it to him since he died and the title is relatable to the feelings she had for him as a friend, although the content is still about something else. That being said, anyone with a minor sense of interpretation will realise that the meaning of this song is clearly more in line with the analysis above.

    In plain sight, this song seems to be about a sudden unwanted disruption of the glass ceiling dynamics of “mutual unconfessed love” between two persons, which in this case can refer to a friendship or an emotionally detached intimate relationship. In that way, suppressing the real nature of the feelings displayed in this relationship is a way of preserving its former lowkey status, avoiding risky changes that would inevitably mean the ending of its previously balanced lighter dynamics. So, when the guy (I’m assuming it’s a man) finally confesses his love for her, she rejects it, even though she feels the same, because his revelation meant the automatic destruction of the spontainety and freedoms of their usual bond, by adding the weight of love to it.
    In that sense, her contradictory negative reaction is motivated by the awareness that the lighter and harmonious nature of their relationship would be ruined by the intensity of love and romance, as well as the usual spontaneity and playfullness between them, which would be replaced by awkwardness and hesitation as a result of a romantic dynamic, leading her to just want things to remain the same.

    This whole conflit means that she’s afraid of eventually losing this person and permanently ruining their special bond by allowing the “love” factor in, with all the drama and instability that is caused by romance, which ultimately points to her fear of love itself, since the unrestrained expression of such an intense feeling would expose her to a great level of emotional vulnerabillity, intimacy, attachment and distress, onde that she’s not ready to feel yet, since it would imply the destruction of walls she has built around her in order to protect herself from insecurities and preserve her emotional stability and psychological well being, as well as her sense of control and sense of self, and her own independence, things that are frequently threatened by the blinding and unpredictable intensity of love with the deepening of its expression and the resulting attachment it inflicts on a person.

  14. Moon says:

    Its about x’s death. I’m sobbing

  15. Ms person says:

    Moon literally ignored the LONG paragraph above, “moon” I agree it doesn’t have to be about X she could have just dedicated it to him because of his death.

  16. Anonymous says:

    what if she was in love with X but he never knew and that time when she cried at her own concert it was because her owm lyrics were breaking her heart, what if she loved him more than a friend and she was reversing the roles in the song, and making it about him, meaning he died without her having the chance to tell him…it’s just a thought

  17. schmawesome says:

    Woah, my opinion is COMPLETELY different, it’s crazy. I think the song is about self-loathing and regret than anything else. In the beginning we see Billie in the position of being the one loved but doesn’t seem to love back this unknown person. But then a story about someone who is being love dbut doesn’t love back, isn’t really something that warrants such a melancholy vibe, right? Little by little, however, the perspective changes. It reverses, in fact. Then we end up with the perspective of the one who loves but isn’t loved back, and the realization (in my part at least) that, holy crap, she’s the one being rejected, isn’t she?

    I think it’s about regret than anything else… regret in placing herself in such a vulnerable position, because she already has a history of self-loathing. The line about “the smile that you gave me even when you felt like dying” sounded more to me like an attempt at distancing herself from the utter humiliation. It’s like a sad little moment of self-flagellation about what she thinks is her own stupidity because “What did I expect, really? I mean, even I don’t like me. Why would he or anyone else?”

    Ugh, just thinking about it is breaking MY heart.

    Just realized, this song is so easily colored by our experiences. I mean, we all have differing opinions on what the song could mean! It’s just ONE song, for crissakes.

  18. Anonymous says:

    It sounds more like she is talking about a good friend of hers that she can’t admit she has feelings for, even though he confesses that he loves her. Idk, that is how I see it.

  19. Anonymous says:

    listening to this song makes you feel like ur heart is breaking

  20. Anonymous says:

    I hate this song because my husband had an affair with some one from another country and when she left he played this song. I caught them in my kitchen.

  21. Bryce says:

    To me, this theory makes the most sense.
    The song isn’t about confessing love and ruining a friendship… it’s about a blossomed relationship that is now falling apart. (This would make sense given Billie’s one sided relationship that was hurting her in her documentary)

    What if the line is actually:
    “You didn’t mean to say ‘I love you… I love you, but I don’t want to.”

    This would give the lyrics a better meaning if you picture Billie and her lover together in a emotional and heartbreaking conversation. He says to her, with tears in his eyes “I love you, but I don’t want to.”

    She is stunned. “It’s not true… tell me I’ve been lied to”
    He cries in emotional heartbreak, knowing the love just isn’t there anymore. “Crying isn’t like you.”
    She feels regret for letting herself fall into love and it ending like this. “What the hell did I do? Never been the type to let someone see right through.”

    In desperation, she pleads with him “Maybe you won’t take it back, say you were tryna make me laugh, and nothing has to change today, you didn’t mean to say “I love you and I don’t want to.”

    The next verse starts metaphorically, alluding to their relationship that finally took off, like a plane “Up all night on another red eye, I wish we never learned to fly.” With the “up all night” line referring to the tiresome, emotional nights they spend.
    “Maybe we should just try to tell ourselves a good lie; I didn’t mean to make you cry” Again, another plea to save their love.

    He tries to smile at her. But he’s hurting so bad inside he could die. And she sees it.

    The ending represents her reluctant acceptance, as they spend the little time left together. Her heart breaks as she knows that this is the end.
    “We fall apart as it gets dark, I’m in your arms in Central Park. There’s nothing you could do or say. I can’t escape the way I love you.”

  22. Rio says:

    I feel like there is not much LGBTQ+ representation here. Where in the song does it say Billie’s boyfriend? The lyrics could be written for any gender.

  23. casen says:

    I have an unpopular theory. The song before “i love you” is “listen before i go”, in “listen before i go”,
    she is singing from the perspective of herself nearing suicide, but speaking to the person she loves beforehand. After “listen before i go”, “i love you” is played, but instead of this song being from her perspective, its the person she loves. the person she sung “listen before i go” to, did not have the same feelings for her as she did him. But after billie had committed, the one she loved started to realize his or hers feelings. “its not true, tell me ive been lied to, crying isn’t like you…” and so on, is his/her response to “listen before i go”. “i love you, but i don’t want to.” is him/her stating that they wish they hadn’t felt love for her because it is too painful to deal with now that she is gone.

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