waiting to say i love you

Ask an Expert: How Do I Tell Someone I Love Them?

Three little words with such a powerful impact: “I love you.” Saying it for the first time is exciting, a little nerve-racking, and terrifying all at the same time. It’s a big step!

If you’re thinking about taking your relationship to a new love level, we have some advice! Here are some tips for saying “I love you” for the first time:

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Make Sure You’re Ready

Before dropping the L-bomb, take some time to think about how you truly feel — and make sure it’s actually love! There’s a big difference between love and infatuation. If you haven't been dating very long or are still in the magical honeymoon phase of your relationship, it’s easy to confuse feelings of love with feelings of obsession.

Do you genuinely feel like your relationship is in it for the long haul? If you believe you can grow together, make it through challenges, and love and accept each other for who you are, then an “I love you” may be in order.

Time It Right

Ultimately, you want to say “I love you” whenever you feel completely ready, but doing it too soon probably isn’t the best move. It isn’t so much about the length of time you have been together, but rather about the nature of your relationship.

Feelings of love are not formed immediately. You have to allow enough time to get to know each other on a deep, intimate level. That’s not likely to happen within the first few weeks! That said, it’s also important not to wait too long.

While there is no set time frame to say “I love you,” research has shown that, on average, men take about three months to say it, while women take about five months.

Don’t Say it When You’re Drinking

Saying “I love you” for the first time is a big deal, and we wouldn’t blame you for trying a little liquid courage beforehand. As much as we get it, try to avoid alcohol (or any other substance) before making your big move.

Sure, it’s much easier to say pretty much anything after a few drinks, but you don’t want your partner to think you only said it because you were drunk. If you blurt out “I love you” over loud music at the bar, they will probably doubt your sincerity. The best thing you can do is skip the booze, take a few deep breaths, and tell them how you feel when you’re in the right state of mind.

Don’t Do It Over Text

We can promise you that saying “I love you” for the first time over text definitely won’t get you a great reaction. Those three little words are a total game changer for your relationship, so treat them delicately!

You won’t be able to convey how you truly feel unless you do it in person. Look them in the eye, speak from the heart, and enjoy the romantic moment.

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Choose a Private Spot

If you are thinking about saying “I love you,” then you probably have a good idea that it will be reciprocated by your partner. Still, you should pick a private spot for the occasion. Maybe you lay out a blanket under the stars or curl up on the couch with a glass of wine.

Whatever you decide, make sure the mood is relaxed and intimate. It will create the perfect atmosphere and help you both feel comfortable opening up and saying what you need to say.

Don’t Say It During Sex

It’s easy (and normal) to get so wrapped up in the passion of sex, and if you happen to let an “I love you” slip out, don’t panic! It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if it’s for the first time, it might send the wrong message.

Much like saying it when you’re drunk, an “I love you” during sex might not come across as sincere. If it happens, you should talk to your partner afterward to let them know that your feelings are genuine (and it wasn’t just the great sex talking).

Be as Direct as Possible

We know it can be pretty scary to say “I love you” for the first time, so you might feel the urge to beat around the bush in order to gauge a reaction. Try not to!

If you don’t want to come right out and say “I love you,” you can say something like, “I feel like my feelings are getting much deeper, and I’m starting to fall in love with you.” It’s a great way to approach the subject and start a conversation about how each of you feels. Be sure to allow as much time as needed for your partner to speak their mind, and be completely honest and sincere about your emotions!

What If They Don’t Say It Back?

Unfortunately, there are times when love isn’t reciprocated. Maybe your partner just needs more time to make sure they are ready to say it, or perhaps you are on two different pages. In the worst case scenario, you’ve found yourself in the middle of unrequited love.

If one of the first two scenarios occurs, you can always have your partner explain their feelings and where they see the relationship going. You should also be proud of yourself for having the courage to say how you feel!

On the other hand, if you’re met with unrequited love, it’s helpful to ask yourself if there may have been any signs or red flags you overlooked. It’s not easy to be in a one-sided relationship, but you can learn a lot from it to help you in future relationships.

So, are you ready to say “I love you?” Remember to keep your cool, be as direct as possible, and, of course, be honest! It’s an exciting milestone for your relationship, so remember to take a breath and relish in the moment.

Speaking of relishing in the moment, why not give Relish a try? Relish is an award-winning relationship coaching app that customizes lessons, insights, games, quizzes, and advice for your specific needs. Download the app and get started with your 7-day free trial!

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