I get what you're saying @SuperGranny it is easy and common to say I love a song or chocolate etc but love is a very different thing when in reference to people, unfortunately the English language only gives us the one word for so many situations/meanings. I guess if I'd had the time to think about it then I could have said a casual 'love you too mate' but I wouldn't have felt 100% genuine about it (I was still getting to know him). TBH it caught me off guard at the time and I didn't know what to say.