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When to Say “I Love You” and How to Do It

Falling in love is one of the biggest milestones of a long-term relationship. Saying “I love you” is both exhilarating and terrifying. Will those three little words be the start of something great? Or will they send your partner running for the exit? 

Love is what gives your life purpose and meaning. By showing it to another person, you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and opening yourself up to rejection. So is the risk worth the reward? If so, how do you know for sure when to say I love you? 

Why it’s important to express how you feel

The importance of honest communication in any relationship cannot be overstated. It’s the glue that keeps us all together, and it benefits everyone involved.

There are many ways to communicate with your significant other, whether it’s verbally, through body language, or in the form of physical contact. Each gesture has the potential to bring you closer together or push you further apart. Saying “I love you” demonstrates your devotion and commitment, while boosting your partner’s self-esteem and encouraging them to respond in kind.

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Expressing your feelings is a vital part of connecting in a relationship and helps it move forward. Even if these feelings aren’t mutual, it’s best to be on the same page. This way, it’s not so scary to profess your love. You can also better gauge whether your partner is going to reciprocate, or if they need more time. 

Tips on when to say I love you

There’s never a set timeline to dictate when to say “I love you” for the first time. Each relationship is unique and so is the bond you share with your partner. It doesn’t matter if it takes three weeks, three months, or three years — the depth of your relationship is what really matters. But if you’re still nervous about when to say “I love you,” consider the following things before you decide to make that leap. 

  • Do you care what the answer is?

If you’re finally ready to say “I love you” and want to do so simply because you need your partner to know how you feel, then go for it. Often times, we’re afraid to say those three little words out of fear that our feelings won’t be reciprocated. As a result, you might have a hard time saying it out loud first. You end up being more concerned with how your partner feels about you than with how you feel about them. Once you understand that love develops at a different pace for each individual in a different way, then you’ll be able to look past those concerns.

  • Do you feel like you’ll explode if you hold it in any longer? 

Have you been toying with the idea of when to say “I love you” for awhile? Feel like you just can’t stand the anticipation anymore? Well, it’s time to let it out. It could be damaging to your emotional health to hold in such significant feelings for so long. Get it off your chest once and for all so you can finally move forward, whatever the answer may be. 

  • Have you and your partner discussed the future?

Making mutual plans or envisioning the future together, whether it’s next month or 10 years from now, is a clear sign that you’re in love. And chances are, your partner feels the same way. 

  • Does your gut tell you it’s the right time? 

Trust your judgment. Only you and your partner know what’s best for your relationship. If you really, truly feel the time has come to express your love, then you shouldn’t be afraid to take the plunge. 

  • Are you convinced it’s love and not infatuation?

Infatuation is a highly intense emotion that’s easily mistaken for love. It can sweep you up in a whirlwind of addictive behaviors or create a toxic relationship. Infatuation usually occurs when there’s a strong sexual attraction and physical desire between two people. You might abandon your responsibilities and the people you love. But the relationship itself feels empty and lacks substance, affection, and respect. 

Genuine love, on the other hand, means you’ll gladly take the bad with the good. You’re willing to make small sacrifices for one another, and offer honesty, faithfulness, and commitment. Your partner encourages you to become a better version of yourself, rather than trying to change you into somebody else. So before you choose the moment of when to say “I love you,” think about the nature of your relationship and which category it falls under. 

How to tell someone you love them

Telling someone “I love you” for the very first time is generally an intimate event, done in a quiet and private setting. You can plan it in advance ‒ treat your partner to a romantic dinner for two at their favorite restaurant. Or you can say it in bed when it’s just the two of you relaxing in a familiar environment, with no one else around. 

However, if you’re both outgoing people who enjoy public displays, then forget about keeping it low-key and feel free to shout it from the rooftops. Remember though, if you select this route, you must be prepared for any answer from your partner in a public forum.

Ultimately, you should do it when it feels right, where it feels right, and in a way that feels right for your relationship.

As nerve-racking as it may be, the first “I love you” should ideally be said face to face. No, video chatting doesn’t count. Neither does Snapchat, Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, or any other app. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, then it’s up to you to choose the right way. 

Ultimately, you should do it when it feels right, where it feels right, and in a way that feels right for your relationship. 

Takeaway

Admittedly, saying “I love you” is pretty intimidating, but it’s also potentially one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. Give some serious thought as to whether you’re in the right stage of your relationship to utter those words. 

Furthermore, remember that it’s unnecessary to turn it into a big production. Just be sincere and say it from the heart. Whatever the outcome may be, you’ve been true to yourself.

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/relationships-and-communication

https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1975-21111-001

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