We asked men what they think makes it the right time to say those three little words.
I love you — three relatively small words, yet they carry so much weight.
Growing up, it’s usually easy to drop casual “I love yous” to our parents, family, and very close friends. So why is it that, when it comes to saying those words to a love interest, it feels so hard to know when the time is right? No matter how brave you are, not everyone knows when to say I love you, and telling someone how you feel for the first time is rarely, if ever easy.
It can be hard to know when you should say I love you because in doing so, you’re making yourself vulnerable. And it’s scary being vulnerable, because doing so comes with the risk of rejection.
Scary as it may be, deciding when to go ahead and say how you feel is something anyone who enters a romantic relationship must face at some point or another. And like everything else in life, we all tackle this adventure differently.
Some people wait to say I love you until they are absolutely sure that the other person will say it back, while others refuse to be the first and will only ever say it in return. Then there are people who just can’t help themselves and say it as soon as they find those feelings bubbling up inside of them. Still, others will go as long as they can without uttering those words at all because the perceive that simple sentence to be the declaration of a serious commitment they don’t want to take lightly.
When you should say I love you for the first time?
I was curious to know what men think about this romantic quandary, so I asked a group of guys when they feel you should say I love you for the first time and why. Their responses included some pretty interesting feedback and advice.
Read on to find out what men think about when to say “I love you” for the first time.
1. You should say I love you when you’re 100% sure you’re both in love.
“This is one of those things where you need to make sure you know their answer before you ask it. You should already kind of know if they love you or not.”
2. If you feel it, you should say it.
“I finally got the guts to say it to my girlfriend and she immediately admitted she had been trying to get the courage up to say it to me as well. I was afraid she didn’t feel the same way and she was afraid I didn’t, so it was just up to one of us to say it.
“If you feel it, say it. If he doesn’t love you back, shouldn’t you know sooner rather than later?”
3. Just don’t say I love you for the first time in bed.
“The last time I said it was in the heat of the moment. Learn from my mistakes: Don’t say it in bed. Say it when cooler heads prevail.”
4. You should say I love you when it feels like the natural thing to do.
“I let it come naturally and when I feel it, I’ll say it. I’m not going to wait until the perfect moment. I mean, I don’t even know what the perfect moment would be. I wouldn’t wait and debate whether or not I should say it.
“I also wouldn’t say it just because someone said it to me. If I say I love you, it’s because I meant it and that’s how I felt at that moment. I think it’s okay to be on a different page early on in a relationship. It’s natural to fall in love at different paces. Saying I love you before your partner doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your relationship.”
5. You should say I love you the moment it feels right.
“With my last girlfriend, it was the cutest thing ever. We were driving around in my car and talking about everything and nothing. We had been dating for a month or two by that time, and the subject shifted to ‘What do your friends think of me?’ I told her my friends congratulated me on getting a girl with such a nice behind.
“She told me most of her friends were happy for her, but one had said, ‘Don’t you remember he was a nerd in high school?’ I asked her how she reacted to that to which she replied, ‘I told her, you should get to know him; he’s a real nice man,’ to which her friend replied, ‘But what will others think of you?’ I asked her, ‘Do you care about what other people think?’ and then she said “Oh no, all I know is that I lo…’ And then she became silent and blushed.
“I laughed and said, ‘You were going to say I love you, right?’ She became shy and said, ‘Yes,’ to which I replied, ‘You just made me the happiest man on Earth, because I love you too.'”
6. You should say I love you once you’ve gotten to know the person.
“I love you means different things to different people. The nature of the word leaves it up to interpretation and some people will say it freely while others cling to it like a word that must never be uttered. Typically, though, if you were dating less than a month, you probably said it too soon. You should try to use other phrases to express your affections if you think you have a tendency to drop the L bomb too soon. You can use her responses to these phrases as a gauge about whether she’s feeling as deeply for you as you are for her.
“Use phrases like: I’m so happy I met you. You’re amazing. I’ve never met anyone like you before. Talking to you is the best part of my day. I’m falling for you. I can’t stop thinking about you. But don’t lay it on too thick from day one; that can feel smothering. Say these sorts of things during close moments together, not all of them in the span of a day.
“At the end of the day, love is more of an action than a word; it means (to me) that you feel happier and safer with the other than you’ve felt before, but also that you will strive to make their happiness and safety your top priority. You don’t necessarily have to tell someone you love them to show them how you feel, especially if it’s very early in the relationship.
“Or hey, maybe you’ll meet someone who is down to trade I love yous two weeks in and you’ll be together forever. It’s happened to many.”
7. You should say I love you when you’ve found someone you’re compatible with.
“Don’t worry about how fast you say it; worry about finding someone who sees love the same way you do and is ready for it at the same time is you.”
8. You should say I love you after the other person says it first.
“You’re taking a risk by saying it first. If you want to be safe, don’t say it until she says it first.”
9. You should say I love you when you’re positive it’s not just lust.
“It varies, just make sure what you’re feeling isn’t really lust.”
10. You should say I love you when it feels like you want to.
“There’s no such thing as an ‘appropriate’ time. You say it when you want to say it.”
11. You should probably wait until it’s been at least one to three months.
“Whenever you feel it. Everyone is different, but I think three months is safe without looking needy/clingy. However, you are adults (I assume) and it’s your relationship. I have said it much earlier and have heard it much earlier. Sometimes it’s acceptable and other times it isn’t.
“Either way, it won’t destroy the relationship unless the relationship isn’t solid to begin with. As a rule of thumb, I would try not to let it slip before a month. Before then, it doesn’t seem real.”
12. You should say I love you when you know this is the person you really want.
“When your affection for them becomes more than physical. When you realize that if you had a choice between them telling you about what they had for breakfast and sleeping with the hottest person in the world, you’d rather hear about this person’s toast.
“Time is irrelevant. I just hope it’s mutual.”
13. You should feel good about saying I love whenever you want to say it.
“If you find a really compatible person, it might happen in a month. Or it might take longer. When you feel it, you will know.
“Also, realize that different people go at different speeds. You might feel ‘in love’ but the other person might not. It doesn’t mean they are not committed and it has nothing to do with how much they like you.”
14. You should say I love you when you believe the other person is ready to say it too.
“There is exactly one time that is the right time to say I love you: when the other person is ready to say it back. Any other time is going to involve some regrets.”
15. You should say I love you when you want to, not when it’s expected.
“If you are ready to say it, say it. Do not expect or require it from them in return. It is always better to talk about something if it is bothering you than to bottle it up and ignore it.”