Most people who say "I love you" truly mean "I love you." I suppose that it's easy to get confused by whether it means something platonic or romantic. In my high school, it is pretty clear that "I love you" expresses a platonic feeling, whereas "I like you" expresses romantic interest. I disagree with that usage of "I like you," although there's nothing with which to replace it.

I have a few very close friends who I say, "I love you" to on a regular basis. It's not fake; the words aren't being cheapened. It may not be the kind of love someone means when they're "in love" with someone, but it is true platonic love. These are people I love, but with whom I have no interest in getting into a relationship. The phrase is reserved for the people I care about, for the people who really know me, for the people I cry for.

I don't feel the phrase is being cheapened in any way, because it does not mean, "I'm romantically attracted to you," as the title of this node suggests it should. All of the friends to whom I say this know exactly what I'm saying, and exactly what it means. It means I enjoy talking to them. It means I feel their hurt as if it were mine. It means I'll do anything within reason to make them happy. It means I'll always be there for them.

When I say, "I love you," I mean it.