When to say ‘I love you’ for the first time seems to plague everyone in a new and happy relationship. You have an urge to tell your new partner you love them but don’t know exactly when to do it.
Should you wait a certain amount of time? Is it too soon? Should you plan a whole date around it? Can you just blurt it out?
These are things we all think about when we are in a new relationship. Saying ‘I love you’ is a vulnerable thing. You want to make sure you don’t do it too soon. You want to make sure it is special.
But, how do you know exactly when to say ‘I love you’ for the first time in a new relationship?
[Read: Heartfelt signs the times is right to say “I love you”]
What does saying ‘I love you’ for the first time mean?
Saying ‘I love you’, especially for the first time is heavy. It isn’t just a celebratory milestone, but a major marker for your relationship.
It is essentially telling this person that you trust them with your heart and are jumping into that relationship without a safety net. It is not just a vulnerable moment, but it can define your relationship.
I don’t mean to make you more nervous than you probably already are, but these are the reasons we get so worked up about it. It is scary, there is no denying that.
But, when you truly love someone maybe it doesn’t have to be.
[Read: Understand the differences between “I love you” and “I am in love with you”]
Are there rules for saying ‘I love you’ for the first time?
Yes and no. Look online, and you will see lists and lists of rules when it comes to saying ‘I love you’ for the first time.
Things like you should wait until at least three months. Others think you should say ‘I love you’ as soon as you feel it. Some say to wait until you’ve had your first fight. Really, the rules are different for everyone and every relationship.
A lot of us try not to be the first one to say it. We may feel it but are afraid our new partner won’t say it back or worse, that they will say it back but won’t mean it. It is scary to say those three words because they carry so much weight.
Also, we try to have the most power in the relationship and think saying ‘I love you’ first will show weakness. We think it means we care more and therefore have less leverage. But, if we go into relationships thinking that way, there is a great chance it won’t work out. [Read: The first I Love You – How to say it and get it right]
Following rules when it comes to saying ‘I love you’ for the first time is like using math to write a poem. It just doesn’t make sense.
There is no logic when it comes to love. There are no rules or schedules. Your relationship is just that, yours. So, saying it when it feels right to you is the most important.
But, I know even with that, you are nervous. Some of these tips can make it just a little less nerve-racking to say ‘I love you’ for the first time. [Read: Is your relationship masquerading as love?]
When NOT to say ‘I love you’ for the first time
There are limitless options when to say ‘I love you’ for the first time, but there are a handful of moments when you probably shouldn’t say it.
I’m not saying that these will ruin your relationship or anything like that, but they can cause hesitancy and concern for some.
#1 Do NOT say it before sex. I know this can be a confusing statement. When you tell your partner you love them and if they say it back, you may want to celebrate with some time between the sheets, and that is totally cool.
But, don’t say it in the hopes of having sex. When you say ‘I love you,’ especially the first time, you want your partner to know you mean it and saying it before hoping to have sex could make them wonder what your intentions are. [Read: Is he saying ‘I love you’ too soon? 14 signs he doesn’t really mean it]
#2 Do NOT say it after sex. Saying ‘I love you’ for the first time after sex may seem like it is in the heat of the moment and maybe even romantic, but there are a few reasons it isn’t the best time to blurt out those three little words.
First of all, it can seem like you’re only saying it as a thank you for sex. Secondly, your hormones are going wild after sex. The feeling we get during and after sex can feel a lot like love but that isn’t always the case. You don’t want to say it and then have those happy feelings wear off only to regret it later.
If you feel the urge to say it after sex, just wait a few hours, and if you still want to you are in the clear. [Read: Why oxytocin can be toxic in a flawed relationship]
#3 Do NOT say it in public. Now, by public, I don’t mean you can’t say it at a romantic restaurant or while walking on the beach. What I mean is that it should be private enough that you don’t feel uncomfortable if things don’t go exactly as you planned.
You wouldn’t want to say ‘I love you’ for the first time in front of their whole family only for them not to say it back. [Read: 10 reasons why saying ‘I love you’ too soon sucks]
When to say ‘I love you’ for the first time
As long as you avoid these three avenues of no-nos, you should be good to go. I know you are probably still nervous. Honestly, so am I.
I am in a new relationship right now and am bursting at the seams wanting to say ‘I love you.’ But, like most of you, I am scared.
What if it is too soon for him? What if it scares him off? Or what if I get hurt? What if he feels like I’m pressuring him to say it back?
There are so many unknowns when you share such strong feelings. And we are so scared of being hurt or rejected, we can barely enjoy the bliss of being in love.
The thing is, sharing that you love your partner is not a weakness or something to fear. It takes courage to wear your heart on your sleeve like that. So, before picking the best time to say ‘I love you’ for the first time, remember that this is a bold move.
If you still aren’t sure when to say ‘I love you’ for the first time these guidelines should help you be sure you are ready. [Read: Understand the differences between “I love you” and “I am in love with you”]
#1 Have you felt it on more than one occasion? In a new relationship, there may be moments of love. They could do something sweet for you and you may have a passing moment where you feel you are in love with them. That is great. But, if you only felt it once it may have been a fluke.
If you notice as you spend time with them that you want to say ‘I love you’ at different moments for different reasons, you may be ready. At this point, you know that you feel and can say it.
#2 Is the feeling steady? A lot of new relationships aren’t stable. You may feel like you’re in love one moment and in a passionate and dysfunctional fight the next. Passion and chemistry are often confused for love.
Just because you have a lot of attraction and intensity doesn’t necessarily mean you are in love. You could be in lust. If you feel love even in moments when you disagree or are doing something mundane, it is likely love. [Read: How to tell if what you’re feeling is lust and not love]
#3 Do you feel it when they aren’t around? When you think of your partner when they aren’t around and not only miss them, but feel yourself wanting to text them ‘I love you,’ it is almost for sure the real thing.
Just feeling in love when you are with them may not actually be love but attraction or even just a lot of like.
#4 Are you prepared for your partner not to say it back? This is a big one. I hate to put a seed of doubt in your mind because there is a great chance this won’t even happen, but if you aren’t ready for this possibility, you may not be ready at all. [Read: How to deal with saying ‘I love you’ but not hearing it back]
#5 Do they treat you with love? We put such pressure on the words, ‘I love you,’ but it isn’t always the words that matter the most. Not everyone is an all-star at communicating their feelings. Your partner may be better at showing their love for you than actually saying it. [Read: 25 signs your guy really loves you even if he’s never said it out loud]
If you want to know how your partner feels about you, think about how they treat you. Are they respectful? Do they listen when you talk? Do they take your opinions into consideration? Even if they can’t say it right now, there is a good chance they feel it and are showing you in other ways.
[Read: Different ways to say I love you without saying a word]
Knowing when to say ‘I love you’ for the first time in a new relationship isn’t all about the timing, but it is all about the feelings.
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