“I love you.” The phrase might only have three little words with eight letters, but they pack the most powerful punch in any language. Let’s be honest: telling someone I love you is one of the most anxiety-inducing yet thrilling moments of your life. If you’re in a new relationship, you might be wondering when is it ok to say I love you for the first time.
In a perfect world, you and your partner might say, “I love you!” at the exact same time to avoid any embarrassment and only to reaffirm that you are, indeed, made for each other. But, unfortunately, that’s unrealistic.
So when is it ok to say I love you? While there are no steadfast rules when it comes to love, since every relationship and connection is different, there are some things to keep in mind before expressing those three little, big words to your sweetheart.
How to Figure Out When Is it Ok to Say I Love You
What is the state of your relationship?
Have you only recently started dating? Has it been shorter than three months? Statistically speaking most people say I love you after dating for three months, but that doesn’t mean you should have to. Ideally, you should be in a committed relationship with your beloved and feel a sense of security and intimacy within your connection.
It’s important not to be fooled by the honeymoon stage of love, which involves our brain receiving fresh hits of dopamine and oxytocin (the love hormones), that lasts anywhere from the first six months of a relationship to the first two years. Ensure you’re on solid ground with your partner and that you’re both on the same page when it comes to your relationship before saying I love you. This way, you’ll know for real that what you’re experiencing is, in fact, love and not lust.
Do you feel pressured to say it?
When is it ok to say I love you? Well, it’s definitely not ok when you feel like you need to say it either to save the relationship from falling apart or you think you’re at a certain stage in your relationship that requires you to say it. The feeling and timing must be legitimate, otherwise, if you really don’t mean it, why say it? If it doesn’t feel natural to say I love you, then don’t. Only say it when it feels completely right and organic. There is no set time to say it. You can say it within a month or a year. Just be true to you.
Are you saying it to hear it back?
Do you think by saying I love you to your partner will cause them to say it back to you? If you’re seeking some sort of validation or affirmation from your partner and their feelings and commitment to you, then you should have a conversation about where you stand and not say I love you. You should only say I love you when you truly want to say it without any expectations. Otherwise it’s manipulative and selfish.
And if you say it and expect to hear it back but don’t you’re going to end up feeling hurt and disappointed. Share your feelings only when you want your partner to feel totally loved and not because you’re seeking that same kind of reassurance. After all, the best type of love is unconditional.
Have you been vulnerable with each other?
During the early stages of dating everyone is being their best selves, so, of course, it’s easy to fall in love with a perfect version of someone. But nobody’s perfect. True love comes from allowing ourselves to be our most vulnerable and intimate with another.
When we are able to see our partners at their worst and lowest moments and accept them for it, including everything from helping them when they’re sick, forgiving them when they’re angry, and acknowledging their annoying quirks, then that is a testament of real love. When is it ok to say I love you? When you are able to witness your partner’s imperfect humanity and still want to be with them and no one else.
What does your gut tell you?
How do you intuitively feel about the relationship? Where are you at with each other? Do you constantly question your connection or is there an ease between you? Have they introduced you to their friends and family? Have you been away on trips together? Are they investing the same time and energy in your connection as you? Get honest with yourself. If it feels like love and the signs are pointing to love, then it’s love and you might be ready to say I love you.
Answering the question of when is it ok to say I love you is tricky. But if after thinking through these questions, you feel confident about doing it, then go ahead and speak your heart. Because loving someone is a beautiful thing and one of the greatest gifts we get in life.