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When Should You Say “I Love You” for the First Time?

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Are you in a new relationship and wondering about the right time to say the L word? If you’re wondering when to say “I love you”, use these signs. By Alison Ricard

when to say i love you

Love is a powerful word.

For some, it’s an overwhelming word that wells up happy emotions.

For others, it’s an awkward and discomfited silence.

A lot of us place a lot of importance on the word, love, especially when it comes to saying it to a new significant other.

If you’re in a new relationship or have started dating someone recently, you’d find yourself wondering about the right time to take that next step, especially if you’re already in love.

[Read: How to prove your love for someone the right way]

When is the right time to say it?

When you feel it, say it. It’s that simple really.

But as simple as it may seem, there are a few things you should remember to make sure your loving words have the impact you desire.

Firstly, before you say ‘I love you’, you need to have a vague idea about your date’s feelings towards you.

Saying ‘I love you’ is like a binding contract, even if just one person says it to the other. And once you’ve said it, there’s no turning back.

Your date has to accept your proposal at some point of time or the whole things gets called off.

But you don’t have to be scared though. Love is a leap of faith, and there’s no point in playing safe in the world of dating and love.

Saying it too early will lose the value

If you think you love someone, that’s a great sign. It’s not too easy to find prospective lovers with whom we can fall deeply in love. But even if you think you’re already truly, madly and deeply in love, wait a while before expressing your lovey emotions.

If you say it too early into a relationship, you may make the whole thing feel trivial, like you’re used to saying ‘I love you’ to anyone you date. Take your time, build the romance and say it at the right moment.

Saying I love you for the first time

Here are 10 tips you need to keep in mind before saying ‘I love you’ for the first time. It’ll make the whole loving revelation much more smoother and meaningful.

#1 Let your date know. Your date should know your intentions much before you actually reveal them. Let your date know just how serious you are about the relationship. When you get some time to speak with each other, talk about how special you feel when they’re around and how romantic and meaningful your life has become since they’ve stepped into it.

If you’re dating someone who’s only looking for a fling thing, they’ll know it’s time to back off. [Read: 10 types of love you'll experience in your life]

#2 Be nice. Let your romantic gestures reveal your intentions. Casual daters don’t go out of their way to do something nice for each other. If you truly love someone and are only waiting for the opportune moment, start to treat your date like you would treat your lover. Your date will instinctively know where the relationship is heading. [Read: 25 sweet romantic gestures for everyday life]

#3 Test your compatibility. Can you visualize your date in your arms five years from now? Do you really love this person you’re dating, or is it just an infatuation that’s clouding your mind? Love isn’t a trivial thing. Before you say ‘I love you’, you need to be sure that you would want this person in your life as something more than just a weekend date.

#4 Who says it? It’s usually a man’s job to profess his love and control the direction of the relationship. So all you men out there, man up and make a move, will ya?

*See how easy it is to make a guy feel important? Just say the wheels of the relationship is in his hands and he’ll feel flattered. But as much as the man holds the wheel, the woman is the navigator who plans the directions.* [Read: How to get a guy to ask you out in 9 sneaky ways]

It doesn’t matter who says it first. But generally, women play with their cards closer to the chest as evolution has trained them to play hard to get. After all, women have one egg a month to share with a man. Men have billions of sperms in every casual shoot. Who do you think needs to protect their resources here?

#5 Go out on at least five dates. You think five dates are too soon? Well, it is early, but completely acceptable. The ideal time to say ‘I love you’ would be a couple of months. Wait for two months if you can hold your emotions in and try to figure the direction of the relationship. If you still love every moment you spend with your date, perhaps it’s time to take the plunge.

#6 Don’t wait too long. Listen to your gut. Wait too long, and you may even lose the relationship. Sometimes, your date may get tired of waiting, especially if the girl’s waiting for the guy to say the three magical words! It’s always better to express your love earlier than later.

#7 The right way to say I love you for the first time. There are many ways to say ‘I love you’ for the first time. You can create a special memory, or you can say it in the middle of a conversation. But for the best ways to say I love you, read the whole list of ideas and tips in ways to tell a special someone that you’re in love with them.

#8 Don’t expect a response immediately. After you’ve used the tips in #7 to say ‘I love you’ in a manner you like, don’t push your luck. At times, your date may just not be ready to say anything back or perhaps, they just need more time to say it back to you. You’ve poured your heart out. Enjoy the moment when you’ve revealed your thoughts and sit back. The response will come when it has to.

#9 Don’t apologize. Most people go wrong here. If you confess your love for someone, and they don’t respond back with anything, don’t apologize. Apologizing after asking someone out just to cover up the awkwardness will only make things feel worse.

You’re saying what’s on your mind. Why should you apologize for that? If your date isn’t ready to hear that, they probably have their own issues to deal with anyway. [Read: 25 relationship rules for successful love]

#10 Don’t respond on their behalf. Awkward silences are fine here. You’ve made a big revelation. You’ve just told your date that you love them. And that means you wish to become an exclusive couple, which means you may get married some day and have babies together. You see, there are a lot of things your date has to think of the minute you say ‘I love you’.

Give enough time for your date to think, and don’t go mouthing something just to cut the silence. Don’t say things like “I know it’s too early…”, “I should never have said that… what was I thinking?” or “Don’t worry about it, I just said what was on my mind, you don’t have to say anything back to me”.

If you answer on your date’s behalf, your date may just smile at you awkwardly and talk about something else. You’ve just helped your date squirm out without giving you an answer. Unless you intend to keep proposing your love every weekend, avoid answering on their behalf.

[Read: New relationship advice for a perfect start]

Confessing your love for the first time can be tricky, but not if you use these 10 tips on when to say I love you. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be able to get the message across and say ‘I love you’ in the perfect manner, at the perfect time.


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Have your say!
  • tra
    January 18, 2013 | Permalink |

    So 2 months is a normal appropriate time to say “I love you” to someone if you mutually care about someone? When is considered too long? At this point my bf and I have been together for nearly 5 months and I already know how I feel about him, and I can see how he feels through his actions yet I am still waiting for him to say it first… I can definitely wait but I am dying to hear those words come out of his mouth! Ha.

  • Bg
    March 6, 2013 | Permalink |

    I’m not the guy “tra” is talking about, but I’m in similar senario. It was 5m before I told my lady “I love you”, though I wanted to earlier, and hinted for quite awhile. Anyway, she did NOT respond with same or similar words though I strongly feel she does really like me… but love? My question is… can I ask her if she loves me or not, or do I keep waiting? It’s been 3m since I told her.

  • Nikki
    March 16, 2013 | Permalink |

    Bg, I think it’s perhaps time you asked her. If you told her how you felt at 5 month mark and it’s been 3 months with no response on the matter, That seems to me like it’s time to ask. 8 months is a long time to be with someone and still not know how they feel about you. I hope you get the answer you’re looking for.

    I’ve been with my bf nearly 4 months and I have almost accidentally said the L word on a couple of occasions… I do feel that I love him but am trying to hold off on saying it until we’re out of that “shiny new relationship bubble” phase. I don’t want to be too impulsive and get carried away with infatuation. We haven’t even had our first major argument! Surely, you can’t possibly know if you love someone until you’ve had at least one fight with them and your relationship has survived it, right? If I still feel this way at the six month mark, I’ll take the plunge. Half a year with someone is pretty substantial. I have a really good feeling about this guy and our relationship. This is the happiest I’ve been in a long while :)

    The only thing I do wonder about though, are two occasions where he’s kind of said it jokingly or in passing while we were kidding around… It kind of just slipped out during casual conversation. He seemed just as surprised to have said it, as I was to hear him say it. He seemed to be searching my face for a reaction. Stunned silence followed and I just kind of brushed it off and changed the subject. I didn’t want to draw attention to it just in case he hadn’t meant to say it and might feel awkward. But now I’m wondering whether I should have said something. Anybody think that perhaps that was my chance? I can’t seem to tell. I would hate for him to misunderstand and be thinking that I brushed it off at the time because I don’t feel the same, because that is completely not the case. I’m crazy about him.

  • Josh
    May 20, 2013 | Permalink |

    Been dating my girl for 10 days and she’s already said it. I win!

  • Regan Shedd
    July 13, 2013 | Permalink |

    This website is really helpful I love LovePanky.com it is really helping me on how to ask out this guy I like at my high school Tyler Shields I have liked him ever since elementary school always thinking about him and I see him everywhere I go and he is really sweet and nice and has a great smile and beautiful blue eyes.. I always think I am not pretty enough for him or maybe he is to good for me or is afraid and shy… Either way but I always remember that you are beautiful inside and out Tyler Shields and all of you in the world… I hope he soon realizes..

  • Regan Shedd
    July 13, 2013 | Permalink |

    Well I don’t mean ask him out but I mean become friends and get to know each other I am too afraid to ask him out.

  • Vanessa
    July 25, 2013 | Permalink |

    I told my boyfriend last night that I think I am falling in love with him… his response was – I really like you a lot, but I don’t think I know what love is…. Now let me also say that prior to me saying that – I had been thru his phone and found where hs is texting a girl – he makes ref to sex, and how hot she is…but he also discuss’ our relationship with her – and she gives him advice- I just want to know – if he is tryihng to get a response from her who might be an old girlfriend to see if she is still interested? I asked him if there was anyone he may be interested in- possibly someone who may have gotten away? He says no… HOw do I deal with this without breaking the trust issue with me snooping thru his phone?

  • Jane
    September 17, 2013 | Permalink |

    I have been with my bf for two months. Everything is great. We get along really well, we stay at each others houses most days, meet one another’s family, all of it mainly. I know he really likes me, but I am not sure if I should say I love you. He is a little shy and has had some bad past relationships. Should I say it or should I wait a while for him to say it?

  • Iain
    October 12, 2013 | Permalink |

    Vanessa,
    It sounds like the trust issue has already been broken by you going through his phone. Also, he hasn’t told you anything about this other girl . . .?
    Secrets and lack of trust. Did you tell him you loved him because your frightend of losing him?
    ( not that it’s got anything to do with me and anyway, I’ve got my own problems. I only came on here to find out the best superglue to use to seal my lips instead of blurting out “I love you” way to soon to the most gorgeous and incredible woman that’s ever walked on this . . . or any other . . planet . . .ever!! )

  • anna
    November 12, 2013 | Permalink |

    I started dating this guy a week ago we’ve known each other for a couple of months but he’s already stated that he wants us to be exclusive and has told me he really likes me and that the ball is in my hands now. I really do love every minute with him and we have always been really caring towards each other. My question is… when would it be ok for me to tell him I love him? Is it too soon and should I wait longer before I say it?

  • Char
    January 15, 2014 | Permalink |

    I’ve never Told any guy that I loved them, I guess since I haven’t really loved anyone yet . But I’m still in high school and I understand ” love” is something silly for teenaged girls to worry about do much but hear me out. My boyfriend and I have been together for about 4 months and we have know each other since he moved from Massachusetts to New Jersey in 4th grade – We are both juniors in high school now and have been friends since. In 4th grade he fell in love with me and had a huge crush on me until 7th grade. So I know him really well, I know he cares a lot about me, and I’m usually the one who strays away from anything romantic.( Like holding hands) But I really think I’m in love with him. I can see myself spending the rest of my life with him and we have talked about it ( not seriously ) I don’t know if it’s too early to say it and I love what we have and so does he. Is it too early ????

  • Joe
    March 3, 2014 | Permalink |

    I’ve been with my GF for 2 years. She constantly says she “loves” XYZ about me and that she “loves” that I do XYZ, but….never says “I love you.” I told her I loved her after 4 months and she said it back. Since then she never says it back, so I stopped saying it. I told her I find this odd, having grown up in a family that expresses love verbally all the time (her family does too.) She’s only said it one other time about 8 months ago on vacation. She always talks about moving in together, marriage, and starting a family. Heck she says I love you to all her friends and my friends as well. Her family says I love you to me too. We have a great relationship other than this one thing and when I bring it up I get crickets and feel weak for saying anything. Not hearing “I love you” is about to be a deal breaker on an otherwise great relationship.

  • Kaycey
    April 25, 2014 | Permalink |

    Me and my bf will have been dating for 3 weeks as of tomorrow. I’ve been thinking that I love him for the past week. Last night he actually saved my life and that kind of sealed it. I want to tell him but I’m scared it’s too soon and it will scare him away. We both want to spend every minute with each other and like each other a lot but I’m sick of saying “I really like you” when I truly mean “I love you”.

  • sophie
    May 29, 2014 | Permalink |

    So.. I’m 22 and my boyfriend is 23. We’ve been together for almost 9 months and we still havent said i love you. I know you guys might think its way to long, but the thing is that he has never said to to anyone before. We have talked baout this (before we were dating), how “love” was a super big deal for him, and that it meant something for the long run (maybe not marriage, but something serious for sure). I’ve said i love you to my ex boyfriend, so i know what “love” truly is. The thing is, it’s been way too long and im completely in love with him and i wish i had the guts to tell him.. but i’m terrified he might not feel the same. He also dated his ex gf for 8 months and never said i love you to her.. so this is a normal thing for him i guess.. but how long am i supposed to wait?!
    I actually do think he loves me but is just scared. Should i just give it a shot and tell him?

  • renee
    June 14, 2014 | Permalink |

    i think it all just depends on the situation, really. my boyfriend and i have only been together for a month and a half and he said ‘i love you’ first on our 1 month. and we both realized we were falling in love at the 2 week mark. and the reason behind that i think is the fact that two weeks into our relationship we had to start doing long distance. on his last night with me we had sex for the first time, and when he drove home that night he told me he had to pull over because he was crying. and that’s when he realized. but he didn’t wanna say anything because it’s my first relationship and i was scared of falling so quickly in love. but i feel so secure now. so i guess what i’m getting at here is that it just depends on the situation.

  • Gramaw
    July 2, 2014 | Permalink |

    JOE: it sounds like your g.f. has an issue about your relationship that is holding her back for some reason. The fact that she DOES express love freely with family and friends, etc. has got to be extremely frustrating for you. And the mixed message is just as frustrating, given that she HAS professed her love at least twice.

    It might be helpful for you to look at things from a different perspective. Love is a verb. It is an action word. We may forget what someone says to us, and we may forget what someone does for us, but we will never forget how someone makes us feel. Words alone can’t make you feel anything; it is the action behind the words that matter. Given that, how does she make you feel with her actions and deeds? Is her behavior toward you loving? Does she act as if her love for you is unconditional? If so, she loves you and you know it without being told.

    Granted, we all like to HEAR it from time to time, but, well, you are hearing it from time to time. It would be far worse to hear “I love you” on a daily basis yet never feel loved because your partner doesn’t act lovingly.

    You say that the relationship is “otherwise” perfect. It sounds to me, then, like you are a lucky man.

    On the other hand, is it even conceivable to you that her behavior is all an act? When she mentions marriage, do you have the slightest hint that she is talking out of obligation and duty? Some people just aren’t comfortable saying “I love you” on a frequent basis unless it is a social norm (as in the case of the “I love you, too” that comes at the end of a phone call with Mom or Sis or BFF). Some people reserve the “I love you’s” for only those times when s/he feels it profoundly. And, some people don’t say it because they don’t feel it or they are unsure of their commitment to you.

    In your case, you have to decide what makes more sense. She either loves you, or she doesn’t, or she is unsure of committing to you. I suspect that you know the answer.

    One more note, Joe: You said that you stopped telling her that you love her because she doesn’t say it to you. That’s silly. Express yourself openly and honestly to her. Your behavior shouldn’t be a reaction to her behavior; it should be a true expression of your own feelings. Emotional maturity requires that type of honesty. Without it, your relationship will fail.

    VANESSA: Your bf is testing the waters with you and with another girl. He is not committed to either of you at this point, but he is also not in love with you. Either break things off with him, or take a step back and give him some space to figure things out. It’s not “bad” when a person is unsure and/or when a person likes more than 1 person at a time (Have you ever watched Bachelor or Bachelorette?!) But, once the “I love you’s” are said, it means exclusivity. My advice to you is to give him space. You might say, “I may be falling in love with you and I know you don’t feel the same way at this point. So what do you think about the idea of taking a break to date other people so that we can each decide for ourselves how we truly feel?”

    NIKKI: yes, you missed “the moment”. Plan a romantic dinner and TELL HIM how you feel. Honestly.

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