Who Should Say 'I Love You' First In A Relationship?

Photo: Getty
Who Should Say 'I Love You' First In A Relationship — And Why?

Written by Lindsay Mannering

According to research conducted by Vladas Griskevicius of the University of Minnesota, Norman P. Li of Singapore Management University, and Joshua M. Ackerman of M.I.T. (fancy!), men are the first person to say, "I love you" in relationships.

Yes, it's true. Guys say 'I love you' first around ;61.5 percent of the time. They also report that htey feel happier than the women they're dating do when they're the ones on the receiving end of said admission.

"Across 6 studies testing current and former romantic relationships, the authors say, "we found that although people think that women are the first to confess love and feel happier when they receive such confessions, it is actually men who confess love first and feel happier when receiving confessions."

The findings of the study also suggest that, on average, men consider saying those three little words a full six weeks earlier than do women.

Hmmm... That leads us to wonder...

Can how soon a man says he loves you therefore determine not only if he is falling in love with you, but whether or not he justwants to get you into bed?

RELATED: How To Know When The Time Is Right To Say 'I Love You' For The First Time

The researchers also found that men first start thinking about saying "I love you" 97 days, or about three and a half months, into a new relationship.

That time frame seems about right to me. It takes a while to get to know someone and fall in love, and after 90 days you probably have a good idea about the depth your feelings.

So, if a guy tells a girl earlier he loves her earlier than that 97 day mark, what are his intentions?

Personally, I'm wondering if guys saying "I love you" early on is related to luring our unsuspecting souls into bed. Maybe guys say those three little words first in order to move things along, if you know what I'm saying...

The research indicates I may not be wrong.

"Consistent with predictions," the researchers note, "prior to sex in a relationship, men were more likely than women to react positively when receiving a confession ...

They continue, "On the face of it, this reaction appears to suggest that men are quite interested in early commitment. However, after the onset of sex in a relationship, men exhibited somewhat less positivity to confessions of love. This emotional slump, combined with a strong increase in women’s happiness, may indicate that pre-sex and post-sex confessions of love afford unique implications."

Of most interst to me is this section: A pre-sex confession may signal interest in advancing a relationship to include sexual activity, whereas a post-sex confession may instead more accurately signal a desire for long-term commitment."

RELATED: How To Know If You Should Say 'I Love You' First

So, who should say 'I love you' first? Should it always be the guy?

I would be very wary of a guy who told me he loved before 90 days of dating.

I'd be all, "You don't know me, fool!"

And I would certainly be skeptical of his motives.

In fact, if he told me after only a few weeks of dating, I'd ask for his mother's number and give her a call to ask what she think went wrong when he was growing up. Was he not hugged enough? Not too many friends? Does he have a deep need to be liked?

On the other hand, if a man I were seeing took a year to utter those three words, I'd be just as uncomfortable.

I'd be all, "You know me by now, fool! Spit it out!"

Advertisement Feeling stuck in your relationship? Click here to chat with a certified coach from Relationship Hero to help transform your love life!

RELATED: What To Do When Your Boyfriend Never Says 'I Love You' & What To Do About It

Then, of course, I would naturally assume he has a fear of commitment and would be just as nervous with him as I would an early-I-love-you-sayer.

So, I'm glad to hear that the study found that 97 days seems to be the norm as far as when people think the time is right for the "I love yous" to start coming out.

That feels right to me, and it's what I felt worked well in my own experiences in long-term relationships.

Any sooner and he just wants to hop into bed with you. Any later and he just wants to hop into bed with someone else.

And I don't think, based on this study, that we can know who should say 'I love you' first in every relationship... but it may be smart to let the man be the one to say it first, because then you can determine how authentic he is being about it, and know a lot more about his personality.

Harsh, but true.

RELATED: 11 Things You Seriously Need To Know About Someone Before You Say "I Love You"

Lindsay Mannering is a writer served as Senior Vice President overseeing the editorial strategies of its flagship Bustle. Lindsay writes for the New York Times, Gossamer, and many other outlets. Mannering is now the co-founder of The Dipp.

This article originally appeard on YourTango in 2011.

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!

This article was originally published at The Stir. Reprinted with permission from the author.