When to Say “I Love You”

One of the biggest milestones in a romantic relationship is the first time you tell your partner that you love them. But because it can often feel like such a big deal, the question of when to say it for the first time can be a bit stressful. But is the timing actually as important as we think? 

Timing is Everything… Or Is It?

It’s easy to understand why saying “I love you” for the first time is a big deal for most people. It’s a relationship milestone, signifying a depth of feeling that can’t really be expressed otherwise. Saying it makes you vulnerable, and you might worry if your partner will return the sentiment. 

That’s why there’s so much talk about the timing of saying “I love you.” Ideally, you could wait until the moment that you’re sure that your partner loves you too, but that’s not really possible. So instead, people will recommend waiting a minimum length of time, ranging from a few dates to a few months, or just abstaining from saying it first altogether. 

Say It When You Mean It

All of this emphasis on timing as an important factor in telling somebody you love them for the first time seems to be mostly about risk management. The idea is to find a way to share your feelings while minimizing as much as possible the possibility that you will be rebuffed, rejected, or hurt as a result. 

But what this approach overlooks is the essential point of sharing your feelings: your feelings. You should say “I love you” when you want to say it, when you feel it and you want your partner to know. Maybe you fell in love at first sight. Why not? That’s legitimate. Why wait an arbitrary length of time to share your feelings?

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

The most important thing is that you’re saying “I love you” for the right reasons: not because you want to hear your partner say it back to you but because you really mean it. In fact, the same way that you shouldn’t give a gift to get a gift, you shouldn’t say “I love you” with the expectation of getting the same sentiment in return. 

Everybody’s feelings develop at a different pace. So it’s not the end of the world if your first “I love you” isn’t immediately met with one back. Stay patient and give your partner the space to say how they feel when they are ready to. 

Ultimately, love isn’t about what you say and when you say it and who said it first. It’s about sharing a relationship characterized by deep caring with another human being. It’s about trust, partnership, and respect. If you have that, you’ll find that the little detail of when you say three words for the first time doesn’t really end up being that important after all.