When to Say 'I Love You', Advice from a Relationship Coach

There is no other phrase in the English language quite like "I love you". This phrase holds so much meaning in so few words, communicating trust, respect, a sense of a shared future, the list goes on. Even if you are a generally open and confident person, these three words are tied to so much emotion that they can be hard to say, especially if you're the first one saying it. And while we don’t really want it to be this way, being the first person to say “I love you” is often very significant in a new relationship. Because the phrase is so meaningful, it’s important to make sure that you are in the right frame of mind, and the right phase of the relationship before you say it for the first time.

Saying the words, ‘I love you’ has the potential to take your relationship to the next level. So before saying them, it’s important to make sure that you not only mean them, but that you are ready for the implications in your relationship. Know that we aren’t trying to scare you in any way! Getting to the point in a relationship where you feel comfortable saying ‘I love you’ is so wonderful and special. It’s just important to make sure that you really mean it and understand what it means for your relationship.

Here are a few signs that you are ready to say “I love you” to your partner:

* You are comfortable together

A great indication of whether or not you are ready to say ‘I love you’ to a partner is when you realize that you are comfortable around them. During the initial honeymoon stage of a relationship, when a lot of your attraction is related to hormones and you are more infatuated with your partner than anything else, you will likely feel drawn to your partner, but not yet comfortable. The honeymoon phase is characterized by butterflies and general excitement about your partner, and because this phase of a relationship is dictated by chemicals in your brain, it’s best not to say ‘I love you’ during the early stages of a relationship. Once the relationship evolves, and you feel more comfortable and less giddy or nervous around your partner, you know that your feelings are more than just infatuation, and that you are probably in love. If you feel totally at ease around your partner, and your feelings are strong enough to inspire you to say the words ‘I love you’, then you should go for it!

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* Trust has been established

A huge part of any serious relationship is trust. Before telling someone else that you love them, it’s important to make sure that you trust them. This goes back to the stages of a relationship that we talked about before. It takes a considerable amount of time to establish trust in a relationship, so if you are in a place where you trust your partner, then you are probably in a serious enough relationship to say the words ‘I love you’.

* They contribute positively to your life

Saying the words ‘I love you’ to someone often takes the relationship to the next level. Even if comfort and trust are established in the relationship, you should consider whether or not your partner is a positive contribution to your life. Before saying, ‘I love you’ consider if you want this person to stay in your life as a positive force. If they are positive, then feel free to scream ‘I love you’ from the rooftops. But if your partner is not a positive force, consider how you want the relationship to progress.

* You talk about the future together

Considering whether your partner is a positive contributor to your life is a great segue into talking about your future as a couple. Even if you are comfortable with and trusting of your partner, it’s better not to tell them you love them unless you see a shared future together. Like we said before, saying ‘I love you’ tends to take relationships to the next level, so it’s important to consider whether or not you want that before saying those words. When considering your future together, it’s important to take into account whether your partner is a positive influence in your life, and whether or not your goals and plans for the future align. It is often difficult to have conversations about the future, so if you are able to have these conversations, and if you are on the same page about your future together, then it is a great time to tell your partner that you love them.

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* You have met their friends and family

Before telling a partner that you love them, it’s important that you really know them. And really knowing someone normally means meeting the people in their life that are important to them. If you have gotten to the met the friends and family phase of the relationship, and are confident about your feelings for your partner, then you should tell them how you are feeling. If you are tempted to tell them you love them before meeting friends and family (or at least friends), you should consider waiting until meeting important people in their life. This step shows that they are serious about the relationship and are likely starting to feel the same way about you. This also helps you learn more about your partner and understand if you really are falling in love with them.

It is also important to recognize when it is not the right time to say “I love you”. You can never really take these words back, so it’s important to make sure that you are ready to say the words and that your partner is ready to hear them as well.

Here are a few examples of times when you should NOT say “I love you” for the first time:

* During sex

While it’s easy to get caught up in the moment in sex, and sometimes words slip out that you didn't intend... try to avoid telling someone you love them for the first time during sex. If you feel like you actually do love this person, you should find time outside of the bedroom to convey this to them. Talking about love during sex will make the sentiment seem more physical than emotional, and can potentially downplay how much you care about them.

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* Under the influence

Telling someone that you love them is an important step in any relationship, one that should be undertaken when you have all your wits about you, NOT when you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A lot of people tend to get loose lipped when they are under the influence and it might be tempting to utter the first ‘I love you’ when you are a little tipsy to take the edge off, but doing so will make the sentiment less special. Your partner may also question whether or not you actually do love them, because you said it while under the influence. To avoid the confusion and ambiguity all together, try and find a sober moment to convey these words to your partner. It will make it more special! Plus, if you only feel comfortable saying ‘I love you’ when you are under the influence, perhaps it is not the right time to say those words to your partner. This goes back to the idea of being comfortable enough and trusting enough to tell your partner you love them. If you aren’t comfortable saying “I love you” while sober, don’t say it while under the influence! Wait until the trust and comfort levels are there.

* Too early in the relationship

There is no magic formula that you can use to know when it’s a good time to tell a partner that you love them. For the most part, you should tell your partner as soon as you know and trust your partner and are sure that the feelings are genuine. But, it is possible to say the words too early on in the relationship... Saying ‘I love you’ to someone may pressure them into saying the words back, or may make them feel bad if they do not feel the same way. Before telling someone that you love them, make sure that they are reciprocating your feelings. It’s fine if they are not comfortable telling you they love you at the same time as you feel comfortable telling them, but you should wait for some sort of indication that things are heading in that direction. Telling someone you love them too early on might scare them off, or make them feel guilty for not being able to reciprocate.

* Over the phone

For goodness sake, make sure that if you are telling someone you love them for the first time that you do it in person. If you don’t feel comfortable saying it in person, then you probably aren’t ready to express these emotions to your partner! Wait until you feel completely comfortable, then share your true feelings about them.

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