With so much conflicting advice, it can be hard to trust your feelings.
“The regret of my life is that I have not said ‘I love you’ often enough.” — Yoko Ono
So you think you are in love? Congratulations. That’s huge!
Hearing a partner say “I love you” for the first time is regarded as one of the highlights of a romantic relationship. However, people are often uncertain about when to declare their love, and whether to be the first to do so or to wait until the other has given an indication that they feel the same way. Is there a best time to reveal your heart? Does the timing make any difference, or all the difference?
“You don’t have to have a ring on your finger to say, ‘I love you.'” — Tyra Banks
If you think you are in love, it might be time to tell your partner how you feel.
But how can you be sure it’s not too soon, or too late for that matter? Maybe he or she is tired of waiting around for you to say what they need to hear?
Don’t let things get to that point. You can’t go wrong when telling someone you love them.
If you need a little confidence boost, here’s how you can know for sure that you should declare your love.
You are ready to say I love you if…(When Should You Say It?)
1) You don’t care if they say it back.
You know you are ready to say the L-word to your partner when you don’t care if they say it back.
Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D. says in Psychology Today, “Not everyone develops love or expresses it at the same pace.”
He also suggests keeping in mind gender differences as well. According to a survey, men take an average of 88 days to tell a partner “I love you”, compared to a woman’s 134.
This is why it’s important not to expect a response. While it may seem counterproductive, it shows that your love for them is so strong that you are willing to wait for them to come around, or to give them more time if they need it to figure out their own feelings.
This is a good thing. It means that you are offering them unconditional love and that you don’t need them to reciprocate. You’ll love them anyway.
2) You’ve been thinking about saying it for a long time.
You’ve been beating this dead horse for a while now and just haven’t had the guts to make your feelings known.
If you can’t stop thinking about it, and you’re sure your feelings are true, you need to do it for yourself and your emotional health.
According to psychologist Stan Tatkin, “Every time you [make a declaration like that] you strengthen your sense self.”
It’s time to step up to the plate and find out how your partner feels.
Even if they don’t say it back, you know you need to get it off your chest so that you can move on and figure out what to do next in the relationship.
If you find you are always right on the cusp of telling them you are in love, make yourself a promise to say it and give yourself a timeline to meet.
3) You have converted to using “we” to describe you and your partner.
If you are already talking about the future together, but you haven’t said the L-word, it’s time to pony up those words and start the rest of your life together.
This is especially the case if you’ve been together for a while, and you’ve passed the “passion” phase. If you’re still together and things are going swimmingly, then it might be time to say it.
Clinical psychologist, Lawrence Siegel has some great advice in Men’s Health:
“Look at any kind of flame. The top part of the flicker, where it dances, is the most mesmerizing…But the real burn is at the base. So even when the flickering dies down, how much is still simmering underneath?”
Saying I love you doesn’t have to be a big deal. It might feel like it is, but it’s just the thoughts you have about the rejection that might follow the L-word that makes it feel big and scary.
If your partner is also talking about the future together, there’s a good chance they are feeling you too.
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4) You’ve been on more than one date.
Of course, you want to wait until you’ve been on more than one date, but this one rule doesn’t apply to everyone.
This rule is for the people who have been beating around the bush for weeks, months, and maybe even years and haven’t said they are in love with one another.
This is for the friends who might become more, who have known each other for their entire lives and feel like there is something else looming in the future for them.
It’s for the people who want to be together but never saw a way to do that until now. Make sure you go on at least one date before you tell the love of your life that you are, in fact, in love with them.
“Rushing to achieve an unripe romantic profundity is often harmful—patience and calmness is the name of the game.”
A first date after you’ve said I love you is just weird.
5) You believe it’s the right thing to do.
Above all else, whether you are in a relationship with this person or not, you believe that telling them you love them is the best thing to do.
“The right time to say it is when it feels right,” according to clinical psychologist, Lawrence Siegel.
This might seem a bit selfish to go out there and declare your love for someone, especially from afar, but you’ve only got one life and you owe it to yourself to live that life, right?
We’re not saying break up marriages and end relationships to get what you want, but if you have feelings for someone, it’s always better to say how you feel before it’s too late.
6) You’ve been together for a few months.
For everyone else who meets a stranger or a friend of a friend, likes the person, goes on a bunch of dates, meets the parents, and makes plans for a vacation together, wait a few months before you say the words that will change everything.
“Since profound love needs time to develop, it isn’t reasonable to say “I love you profoundly” after being together for just a brief time; that may indicate that you are not serious about what is in fact a serious matter.”
Sure, it’s fun to be spontaneous, but then you are left with those words out in the open. If you say it too soon, you might scare your partner away.
If you wait too long, they might go off and find someone else.
A few months is a good time to wait because you’ve had enough time to get to know each other, maintain your boundaries, learn about one another, and see the future together.
7) You’ve already talked about the future.
Like I’ve said, if you’ve already talked about the future, it’s safe to assume that love is in the air.
Dating expert Sarah Patt says, “Talking about things you should do together as a couple in the future, is a sign that you want them in your future.”
If you aren’t feeling overly confident about that fact, however, try testing the waters with plans for where you’ll live, what you’ll do on weekends when you live together, or something a little easier, like if they’ll be your date to your cousin’s wedding.
There are lots of signs that are right in front of you that you have the green light to say the L-word.
Sometimes, we just don’t see them. Create the opportunity for yourself to say the thing that is most important to you.
8) Your gut says go for it.
We all need to trust our instincts more. Sometimes we so caught up in how long we’ve been with someone before we should say I love you.
If you believe and feel like it is the right time, it’s probably the right time.
Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D. says in Psychology Today, we should say it when we feel it:
“More plausible advice assumes that there is no precise formula for when to say “I love you,” and that you should say it whenever you feel that way, without making too many calculations about timing.”
And there’s only one way to find out. Don’t hold back and be clear about how you feel.
You don’t need a response and you don’t need to pressure your partner into providing you one.
When they are ready, they’ll tell you they love you too. You just need to say this to release your excitement and joy.
They’ll come to it in their own way and in their own time.
It might seem overwhelming to tell someone you love them, but just remember: everyone wants to be loved.
9) You feel like you are going to explode if you don’t say it.
If you’ve been carrying this thought around with you for any amount of time and you feel like you are going to lose your mind if you have to wait another day, consider where that feeling comes from and what saying I love you will do for your anxiety.
Because that’s what it is: you are anxious about what’s happens if you say it.
Keep in mind that saying it may be just what you and your relationship need. According to Very Well Mind, “By sharing what is in your heart with your spouse, you can achieve deeper intimacy.”
If you don’t care what happens, then you are more than ready to say the words.
Giving someone unconditional love means you love them even if they don’t love you. If you don’t need them to say it back, go for it.
12 Reasons To Wait To Say ‘I Love You,’ Even If You’re Dying To
While everyone longs to find love, not everyone wants to be loved by you, so slow your roll when you decide you are going to declare your love to your partner.
Here are some times and moments when you should not say ‘I love you’ for the first time ever.
Don’t say I love you…
1. Because true love takes time.
When you start to really enjoy someone’s presence, it’s easy to get affection mixed up with love. You might love being around that person, love the feeling of their hand in yours, love knowing you’re each other’s special people—but that isn’t the same as loving them.
True love takes time. And it’s not something you can rush. Even if you’re biting your tongue, wanting so desperately to say those three little words to your significant other—give yourself time to really process what that means. You don’t want to say it too quickly because you feel something in the moment. You want to know, beyond a doubt, that love is what you feel inside your chest.
2) During sex.
It’s a no-brainer. Any person with a head on their shoulders is going to think it’s not real.
According to Psychology Dr. Daniel J. Kruger, “When people have sex, this creates a whole cascade of neurotransmitters…the effect on the brain is similar to the substances people take recreationally.”
So yes, at that moment you may actually feel it, but when you’re not having sex, you may not feel the same.
Also, don’t say it before or after sex either. They are a triple-whammy package and not a lot of people buy into it.
Try saying it over dinner, in a quiet room, when you can be together without your pants off.
3. Because that phrase isn’t a ‘fixer.’
Love is not a problem-solver, as much as we wish it to be. Sometimes when our relationships start to have problems, we think that simply telling our partners we love them will fix what’s gone wrong. But that’s not true. Saying ‘I love you’ cannot heal what’s been broken or bring back trust. It’s not something that can mend a fight, especially if it’s said for the first time because it seems like more of a desperation or an excuse than something genuine. Wait to say those words when the timing is right and the feeling is genuine.
4. Because your openness—either hasty or genuine—might scare your partner away.
You never want to say ‘I love you’ with urgency to save a relationship or to make someone feel a certain way. Love isn’t something you can force upon a person, or even force within yourself. Maybe you feel so strongly towards your significant other—this is beautiful, but give it time. Allow your partner’s emotions to process and blossom at their own rate. Don’t try to rush them into mutual feelings by expressing your heart too soon. It’s good to share how you feel when you feel it, but be cautious, too, as your wealth of emotion (especially early on) might frighten them rather than bring you two closer.
5. Because it’s more meaningful at the perfect time.
Sometimes we feel something so strongly it takes all of our energy to hold back. This is understandable, but blurting out ‘I love you’ at the wrong time won’t make the special memory you may be hoping for.
There’s something to be said for those words slipping out of your mouth at random—this can be beautiful, yes! But do remember that saying it at what feels like the ‘perfect’ time might create a moment between you and your partner that neither of you will ever forget. And if that’s what you want, then hold off until the timing is right.
6) In front of your partner’s parents.
This is weird and while it might be romantic to ask your lady’s father for her hand in marriage, it’s not ideal to declare your love for your partner in front of their daddy for the first time.
According to Elite Daily, throwing around phrases like “our love for each other or “because he loves me so much” might make it seem like you are hookup monsters who met on Bumble.
You need privacy when you decide to do these kinds of things so save yourself – and them – the embarrassment and make sure you do it when the moment is right.
The moment is certainly not right when you are having dinner with Daddy Dearest.
7. Because you cannot say it in hopes of making someone stay.
Love should not be used to coerce, to change, or to convince. Those three words cannot save a relationship or fix something that has fallen off the tracks.
If you’re trying to say those words in hopes of keeping your partner in the relationship, save your breath. Confessing something so personal and close to your heart will only leave you broken if the feeling isn’t reciprocated, and is deceitful and manipulative if you say those words without meaning them.
8) At another couple’s wedding.
Don’t get caught up in the moment of pining after what another couple has. You aren’t them.
Get your head out of the clouds and back to the pew in the church and focus on being the best damn wedding date you can be.
According to Stan Tatkin in Time Magazine, “When you declare something about yourself to the other person, it makes real. It has somatic effect. It’s who you are.”
Keep your love language at home. There will be a time and place for you to declare your love to your partner and the world, but your pal’s wedding is not the time, nor the place.
9. Because anything that’s said in haste might be regretted later.
You want to make sure you’re saying something because you feel it, not because you feel pressured to, or want to ‘say it first,’ or want something to happen because of your confession. Anything you say without true, honest intentions has the chance of being regretted later. And saying ‘I love you’ is something you can’t simply take back.
10. Because emotions need to be processed first.
You must give yourself time to understand what love is and what it means. You cannot jump into a relationship and say those words without giving yourself, and your significant other, proper time to process the feelings, emotions, attractions, and passions you have towards one another.
11. Because love is different with and for every person.
Love may mean two different things to two different people, and this is okay. But sometimes it’s good to give yourself time before saying ‘I love you,’ just in case your version of love doesn’t quite match with that of your partner’s.
Perhaps talking about the security, the stability, the promise of your relationship will help. Perhaps making sure you know one another on a deeper level first, before saying anything too serious will be a good guide. Perhaps just understanding your partner’s past, previous relationships, and whether or not they have been in love before can also allow you to see where they are and what they feel with you before you let those words slip.
12. Because you don’t need to, and should never feel pressured to say it.
Love doesn’t have a timeline. You aren’t expected to feel a certain way by a given moment, or have to know, beyond a doubt, that you’re in love by a certain day/month/year. Of course you never want to string someone along if you’re not feeling passionate about them, but in the reverse, don’t let yourself feel pressured to say those words, even (and especially) if your partner has already said them.
Let yourself feel what you feel naturally. Let yourself find the perfect moment (or random moment) to express these emotions. Let yourself do what feels natural and comfortable. And when you’re ready and sure of what you feel, let yourself love.
In light of the comparative concern involved in saying “You are the love of my life,” receiving a reciprocal answer may actually take longer than in the case of “I love you.” Don’t hold your breath until you hear this declaration from your partner—it may take a long time, or you may not hear it at all.
In the end, it does not matter who says “I love you” first, or who says it more frequently, just as it does not matter whether you are the first or the second on your partner’s romantic and sexual list. What matters is the profundity of your relationship and the way it develops. Timing also counts. In light of the above considerations, in many circumstances an appropriate response to a declaration of love might be “I think I love you, but I can’t be sure whether it is profound love until we’ve been together longer.”
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