When to Say ‘I Love You’: Is It Time?

It’s a short sentence with a long-lasting impact: “I love you.” In any new relationship, those three little words sit anxiously on the back of your tongue, just waiting to be unleashed. So, when is the best time to do it? Are there unspoken rules? Or do we just let it rip?

The short answer: it depends. Every relationship is different, so it’s important to gauge its progress. That said, there are a few exciting signs that it might be time to drop the L-bomb:

You Are Comfortable Together  

You’re far past the honeymoon phase, lounging around at each other’s places, binging Netflix (without the chill), and checking out moles on each other’s backs. (Does that look weird to you?!) You’re happy and boring together, and you’re totally in love with it – which means it might be time to say the same to your partner.

Trust Has Been Established 

Throughout any stage of a relationship, trust plays a key role in how well it works out. Before dropping the L-word, you need to know you can truly trust your partner. Of course, trust takes time to build, so there’s no need to rush “I love you” until you feel confident it’s been fully established. 

They Contribute Positively to Your Life

Being comfortable and able to trust your partner is important, but do they affect your life in a positive way? One of the best parts of a healthy relationship is your partner brings out the best in you! Saying “I love you,” brings everything to the next level, so be sure the person you say it to is a positive force, rather than a negative one. 

You Talk About Your Future Together 

If the two of you can’t see a future without each other in it, then you’re probably ready for the big, “I love you.” While general questions about the future are normal in the beginning, it’s a whole new ball game when you start to envision specific scenarios as a couple. If you’re comfortable imagining your future house and kids, you’re probably in love!

You Have Met Their Friends and Family  

Introducing your significant other to your family and friends is a big deal! After all, you don’t want them to meet just anyone – you want them to meet someone you think is amazing. If you’re spending a lot of time with each other’s inner circles and find yourself building a relationship with them as well, saying “I love you” isn’t that far off. 

So, are there times when you shouldn’t say “I love you?” You bet. Here are the times when it’s best to refrain: 

During Sex

Getting caught up in the passion of love-making may seem like the perfect opportunity at the time, but try your best to hold back. When the rush of emotions hits during such an intimate moment, you’re probably not thinking clearly – so wait until after to see if you feel the same way. 

Under the Influence 

Avoid using “liquid courage” before declaring your love for the first time. We all tend to get a little extra chatty while drinking alcohol, but it’s best to stick to repeating the same story three times instead of professing a relationship game-changer like “I love you.” (That you probably won’t remember saying the next day.)

Too Early in the Relationship 

If you’ve been on three dates, haven’t even discussed their family, and aren’t sure you fully trust them yet, it’s pretty simple – don’t say it. The initial stages of dating typically involve feelings of infatuation, so be sure to distinguish between that and actual feelings of love. 

Over the Phone 

So…so awkward. Can you imagine your partner saying “I love you” for the first time over the phone? What do you do? Press a few buttons to convey excitement? If you truly believe you’re in love, tell them in person – a moment that special deserves a face-to-face interaction.

No matter when or how you decide to say “I love you,” there’s one thing you can rely on – your gut. At the end of the day, you’ll know you and your partner are on the same page – in which case, let the “I love yous” fly.