I don't say "I love you" often, and I'm not going to apologize for that.
I know that people notice this. They comment on it occasionally, but personally, I don't understand why hearing these words so often is necessary. I shouldn't have to use those three words to make someone feel "good enough" or accepted. Maybe that's a bit harsh, but it's true. In my opinion, those three words are overused, abused, and lose their meaning over time when people say them for what seems like no reason.
When I say "I love you" over and over, it starts to feel like I'm obligated to love the person. I'm not forced to though, I choose to, and if someone needs constant verbal confirmation of that love, it begins to feel like a chore for me to give it.
When people say it to me, I do feel obligated to say it back, and on occasion I will. Most times however I'll say, "love you," or "love you too," or just "you too," because to me, the addition of oneself adds another level to the words that the person I am saying them to should already be aware of.
Those three words all put together are special. They shouldn't just be thrown around. They are meant to show an appreciation and deep connection with someone. I don't walk around telling people "I see you" ten or more times a day, even though I do. It is implied when I smile, nod, wave, or have some sort of interaction with them.
I don't have anything against the people who say it all the time. The words may have a meaning to them that is drastically different than what they mean to me. Maybe that is how they express their love clearly and effectively. No one has the exact same love language.
I suppose a lot of it comes down to how we interpret and receive love. I believe that love -- real love -- is expressed in actions, not by repeating words to assure people that it's true. If you need to say it because you can't show it, that is a problem in my mind. For example (in some situations), if someone can't glance over their shoulder to make sure they didn't lose me in a large crowd, it implies that they don't necessarily care about me. Or, if someone continually backs out of plans last minute, it doesn't come across as love, let alone as being respectful.
I don't need to hear someone say that they love me during every commercial break while we are watching my favorite show. To me, having someone watch the show with me implies that they love and care about me, especially if they are watching something they may not enjoy as much as I do.
I love my friends, family, pets, people, and so on. I will tell them, and do tell them, I just don't say it (verbally) every single day. Just because I haven't told all of them they mean a lot to me today, it doesn't mean that I don't love them. Not saying it doesn't mean I take it back for some reason. You can't exactly "take back" the love you have for someone. Love isn't just the word, it's the feeling. Even if you're angry with someone for not answering your phone call, it doesn't mean you stopped loving them.
People need to know that you care about them, but you can say this in other ways. For instance, "I appreciate you" or "I'm so lucky to have you in my life" are two fine examples of things that you can use to let people know that they mean a lot to you. Saying it more often doesn't mean you love someone more, nor does it necessarily mean you love them less.
So no, I'm not going to say it for yucks and giggles. I'm going to say it when there isn't anything else that I could say or do to explain the feeling I have. I'll use those words when a person really, truly needs to hear them or I feel they fit the situation. To me, those three words together are special, just like the person I say them to.