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

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Who should say “I love you” first?

The answer to a million-dollar question.

Uttering those three words for the first time in a relationship can be nerve-wracking. It is such a powerful phrase that has the potential of moving the relationship significantly forward. However, more often than not, the emphasis is placed on who should say it first.

My client, Kaila, has been seeing her boyfriend, Steve, for six months. The relationship is easy and fun. They communicate well and became exclusive early on.

While he has told her that she is very special, he has not said he loves her. He says that he expresses his love by the things that he does rather than with words. Kaila wants to tell him that she loves him. But, she is afraid of saying it first and doesn’t want to scare him away.

It doesn’t matter who says it first. There are good reasons why Kaila or Steve might hesitate to say the first "I love you" in an evolving relationship nor does he know when to say "I love you".

The words "I love you" are loaded with mythology and multiple meanings. Saying, "I love you" to your mother, long-time lover, or your child have different connotations than uttering it for the first time to someone you’re dating.

RELATED: 15 Ways Guys Say 'I Love You' Without Ever Saying A Word

Popular culture throughout the ages — Hollywood movies and romantic comedies — perpetuate the myth that saying "I love you" signifies that your relationship has forever changed.

It may imply living happily ever after with marriage, kids, and a picket fence. Think of When Harry Met Sally or popular song lyrics.

It could mean waiting for years for your loved one to return from the unknown. Think of Homer’s Ulysses or numerous cowboy movies.

It can also allude to a commitment to stick with each other through thick and thin, no matter how hard it gets. Think of dysfunctional relationships you have known or those portrayed in movies such as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

RELATED: 20 Ways To Say 'I Love You' Without Actually Saying The Words

It’s likely that Kaila and Steve may have very different ideas about what saying "I love you" means. More importantly, each of them might have different expectations from each other after they hear those words.

If one of them believes that it means that they must be together forever and the other believes it’s simply expressing a feeling, a declaration of love might feel jarring.

They will discover a lot about each other if they can have an honest discussion about their hopes, dreams, and expectations of what love means to each of them.

What if you narrow it down to expressing the feelings that emerge from your experience of love? Saying things like, "I love being with you" or "I feel a sense of love towards you right now" to share how you’re feeling in the present moment doesn’t imply obligation.

In the end, it helps if you can authentically share your experience of loving the other person, rather than worrying about who says, "I love you" first.

RELATED: 25 Adorable Ways To Say ‘I Love You’ With Actions Instead Of Words

Annie Gleason is a Dating Coach whose strategic dating advice has provided lasting love to hundreds of women. To find love, don't leave it to chance. Get more free dating advice by visiting her website.

This article was originally published at Get A Love Life . Reprinted with permission from the author.