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How Long You Need To Wait Before Telling Someone You Love Them

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RELATIONSHIP BUILDING 101: THE 90 DAY RULE
Contributor
Love

When can you be sure your feelings are real?

Am I in love? Definitely "in like?" Great! No one wants to get hurt, rejected or feel like a fool so, how do you move forward openly and keep your heart from being broken?

You should know where are a few things that create that wonderful “crush” feeling that provokes such hope for a happily ever after. Despite being very sophisticated and civilized, we humans are animals after all and that being said, and there are a few things about animal instinct and the innate urge to mate that we seem to overlook when we meet someone special and start down that path of falling in love … or hoping to.

The reason we overlook it is even built in and natural! It takes a bit of personal work to maintain an awareness when our hormones are surging around like crazy because nature made us a little crazy when it comes to love — or more precisely, the mating game. When we meet someone that strikes our fancy and turns us on there is an actual chemical surge that happens, first in the brain, and the rest of us follows. Nature did this instinctively so that we would mate and reproduce without thinking about all the pitfalls and issues that could arise, because if we think about it too much, we might miss the chance to make babies.

Whoa! Who said anything about making babies!? You’re just dating, getting to know someone, maybe falling in love, right? Right! And that’s the more civilized brain surfacing to try and make sense out of the lovely feelings of attraction and desire those hormones are throwing around.

So, how do you know when you're in love?

RELATED: 10 Signs You're In Love With Someone (& They Love You Right Back)

There’s the conundrum. How do you follow your “heart” (hormones really) and still be smart? There is a way, if you pay attention and use some self-control… and I’m not talking abstinence here (although if that’s your thing, that’s okay too.)

It takes about 90 days for those initial wild hormones to settle down, so you have about three months of fairly unrealistic feelings to get through before answering, "do I love him?" Here’s how you do it.

First, be aware that the feelings you are having in the first three months are mostly hormone induced chemical reactions that are urging you to have sex and reproduce.

You’re more sophisticated than that, so just be aware that your own chemical responses are leading you astray and don’t mistake these feelings for real love or a soulmate connection. You’ve probably had this feeling before too, but we forget when it wears off and we end the relationship for good realistic reasons, so it always feels new and different when it happens again. Being aware is always the first step.

Second, don’t jump off the cliff and dive in with “I love you” or even thinking that this one is so different than any other.

Maybe it is, maybe not — but you’re not going to know for a while a yet so try to stay calm and attentive to what’s going on. Everyone puts their best foot forward in a new and blooming relationship. It feels natural and it’s easy to do because both of you want to please the other so everything seems to be flowing so smoothly. But you don’t know each other yet, no matter how much you talk and share secrets you’ve never told anyone else!

It takes time to know someone and many different shared experiences, so just hang on and enjoy this fun time of getting to know each other and try to stay aware that that is what’s going on.

RELATED: How To 100% Know For Sure You're Really In Love

Third, it’s not time to make commitments yet.

In these first 90 days, the biggest thing going on is the clouded attempt to make you like each other. So use this time to your advantage. Enjoy all the flowers and lovely dates and long talks. Spend time together doing as many different things as you can think of. Meet each other’s friends and try to pay attention to them, they will tell you a lot about your new love. Meet each other's family’s if that’s on the agenda for you and don’t sweat about it. They are just people too and if you pay attention, they too will tell you about your sweetie… especially in their interactions with each other.

Fourth, go ahead and enjoy all the activities you want to — even sex if that’s alright with you.

Go on trips together and spend weekends together — even a week if it’s right for you and available. Whatever you want. But do not give your heart away! Think of different endearing ways to admire and appreciate each other but don’t say I love you, don’t move in together, and don’t make any long-term commitments. I mean, really, would you loan your car to someone to drive out of state with that you had only known 6 or 8 weeks? Your heart and your life are far more precious than a car.

The first three months are at your own risk. This is why many generations have advised not being sexual too quickly or spending too much time together in the early days. Your hormones are in control and they have no agenda except to mate.

Fifth, about 82 days in, you will begin to notice a slow-down in your need to see this person at every opportunity.

You will begin to be more reasonable about spending time with your friends again, making plans that don’t include your sweetie, and so will they. You might even begin to notice that there are some little details about this person that you aren’t thrilled stupid by like the way they dress or how much TV they watch or that they fall asleep watching movies. Something. Stuff starts emerging as the hormones begin to subside, whether you’ve had sex or not. Pay attention to these things and start asking yourself, “if this never changes will I still want this person?”

As the 90 days comes to an end, you may find you can’t figure out why you were so attracted to this person anymore. If this happens, you’ll be very glad you read this and paid attention because you will have been smart enough to keep your heart and your life safe.

If you are still really excited and happy about them, great! Go for another 90 days and see where you’re at then, because now you’re really in authentic getting-to-know-you time. Now the real people begin to emerge. Forgetfulness happens, drinking habits and other personal quirks emerge, possessiveness and jealously rear their ugly heads. Or not.

Maybe you have found your special lover and it will last a lifetime. And as we know, we usually fall in love several times before that happens, so it makes sense to have a plan of action that you can keep yourself safe with when you start falling again. It’s not so hard, really. 

RELATED: How To Tell If You're In Love (Or If You're Just Emotionally Dependent)

Stanlee Panelle, M.A. is a former Psychotherapist that practices internationally as a Personal Life Coach successfully teaching people how to overcome depression and enrich their relationships for the past 10 years. Coach Stanlee also specializes in guiding Mid-Life Women through the transition into the best years of their life.