Rjcody hello good morning
I think it is not only a conditioned response it is a defense mechanism. When we say "Love you" it is a distancing of self. It is a general statement, that can be waved off if it isn't reciprocate, or if either you aren't sure how it is meant. Saying " I love you" gives it immediacy. It is taking ownership and responsibility for not only claiming the action, but living the truths that come with the concept.
We, as members of society are taught the saying " i love you" should mostly be use to your significant other. But if you are self aware, and all people should strive for that goal, you know that the act of love, is a gift, not just to give to other person, but a gift thst you have received.
Sharing that gift is possible in many ways, but the most personal way to share that love is to vocalize it. Tell that person, whoever they are... TELL them... Even if that person doesn't reciprocate the feeling, you will never be lessened by the act of giving. " Love you" is the same as " I love you" except that it's more informal. When you want to say " I love you" but you want it to sound more casual and less dripping with sincerity, " love you" is a better option for some.
Rjcody thank you again!