When To Say 'I Love You' For The First Time

Because it's kind of a big deal.

When To Say I Love You For The First Time Getty

There is never a right or wrong time to say "I love you" to someone for the first time.

Sure, you can play it safe and wait until the other person says it first, or you can go with the old adage I typically like to suggest, which is to only say "I love you" when you can no longer actively stop yourself from doing so.

But there are plenty of reasons so many people completely bug out when it comes to deciding whether the time is ripe to say those three little words.


And of course, it isn't that the act of saying them is so challenging. It's everything that saying "I love you" represents.

Sure, it's a sweet statement, but it's also a promise — to be invested in another person, to put their needs above your own, to make the choice every single morning to be in love with that person and to treat them with the love and respect that they deserve.

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After all, the act of loving someone is no easy feat, and while saying "I love you" is romantic as all get out, it's not something you should say just because your heart and head are giddy about the prospect of a future with someone new and exciting.

However, I think in many ways there are certain things you have to know about your partner before you start saying I love you.

How soon is too soon to say 'I love you?'

If you start using these three little words too early, you run the risk of zapping them of all importance. You also want to be sure what you're feeling is indeed love and not lust or infatuation.

"Saying 'I love you' needs a trusted giving/receiving space on both sides," explains Spiritual Life Coach Carolyn Hidalgo. "Once you can trust both yourself as the giver, and you can trust the receiver is ready — that’s when anytime sooner or later is perfect and beautiful.


While everyone's 'I love you' timeline will be a little different, according to a 2011 study, on average, men say 'I love you' about three months into a relationship while women take about five months to say it.

Who should say 'I love you' first?

"The enduring quality about love that makes it real is there are no 'set conditions' to prove, follow or have to obey," says Hidalgo, which means there are no rules when it comes to who should say 'I love you' first.

In fact, while many people might think women tend to be the first to break out those three words, the 2011 study found it's actually men who usually say 'I love you' first.

"Whoever wants to say these words first has the freedom to say them, which only makes sense whenever it feels right for that person," says Hidalgo.


RELATED: Why Saying 'I'm In Love With You' Is So Much Harder Than 'I Love You'

Signs It's the Right Time to Say 'I Love You'

When it comes to love, everyone is different. There's no set timeline for when to tell someone you love them for the first time, which can make feeling out the right moment a daunting task.

"Love fortunately is not bound by time," explains Hidalgo. "These words can be genuinely said soon after a first conversation or after many years of conversations."

According to Hidalgo, there are five questions you should ask yourself that will help you decide whether or not it's the right time to say 'I love you:'

1. Are you sure these words reflect how you truly feel?

2. How will you feel if those words aren't spoken in return?

3. Are you clear about your intentions?

4. Do you trust them not to take advantage of the situation?

5. Do you have a solid sense that love is present between the two of you?

Hidalgo explains that your answers to these questions will help give you a sense of how much you trust the other person with your feelings, which is important because "love depends on the quality of trust."


"It really comes down to whether you have a desire to express these words and lean into what shows up when you do," she says. "It’s a desire to play full out, vulnerably, and to allow love's meaning to be present for your relationship to grow into what the experience of love means for each of you."

Signs You Should Wait To Say 'I Love You'

It's super easy to say you love someone you think is hot but who you don't know very well, but how are you going to feel about them once you get to know their dark side?

Don't get me wrong. When you're really and truly in love, you shouldn't hesitate for even a moment to shout it from the rooftops!

But before you do, here's a list of 11 things you definitely need to know about someone before you actually say, "I love you."


1. The color of their eyes.

This might sound silly, but when we're freshly falling in love, much of what we think and feel falls into the "silly" box.

You might be under the spell of his penis, but when it comes to love there's must be more to it than that. You need to know at least the basic essentials about a person before your lust can be believed to have completed its transformation into love.

2. How many brothers and/or sisters they have.

I know it might sound hokey, but I sincerely think that birth order plays an important part in how we each turn out.

Are you dating the eldest? The baby of the family? A middle or an only child? If you don't know, pump the brakes a second and go your boo to break out the family albums.


3. What their relationship with their parents is like.

While I'm not saying that everyone out there is guaranteed to mimic their relationships with their parents in their romantic relationships, stranger things have happened.

If a guy can't communicate effectively with the people who spat him out into this world, you might want to protect your heart a little bit while taking some time to learn more about how that came to be and how he has or has not worked through his own feelings about it.

4. Whether or not they are a secret (or not-so-secret) ax murderer.

We've all got secrets. For some of us, it's that we never wear underwear. For others... it's that we've killed multiple times in the past and we might just kill again.

Yes, I'm kidding.


But also, I am not kidding even one little bit.

5. The actual status of your relationship.

It's all well and good that you feel overwhelmed by the need to tell this person how you feel about them, but before you do, figure this one out.

Are you actually together or is this just a hookup? Is it a serious relationship with long-term potential? Did you talk about keeping it casual? Is he your boyfriend or is she your girlfriend? Does he or she know that?

Knowing is, after all, half of the battle.

6. Whether or not they have someone else in their life.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it can certainly be complicated and it's definitely important. He might technically be single, but does he have an ex he still talks to regularly? A former flame she still pines for? An overbearing mother?


Know the women in your man's life before you utter those three little words. Trust.

7. Whether they are ready to hear those words from you.

Sometimes we date lovely, charming people who just plain aren't ready to receive love. That may sound like some hippie bull, and maybe it is, but it's also the truth.

Sometimes people simply aren't prepared to be in a relationship with someone who adores them, or at least not at this time. That's no one's fault, but it is definitely something to be aware of.

8. Where you fall on their list of priorities.

Love isn't just something you say or something you feel. It's something you chose to do every single day of the week.


A person you love becomes a huge part of your life and likewise, you should become a huge part of theirs, so make sure you're on top of each other's list of priorities before taking this big step.

9. What makes them laugh.

Romance, candles, and commitment are all well and good, but building a loving, healthy relationship is about the small stuff too. Sure, he gives you crazy intense orgasms on the regular, but can he make you laugh?

If the two of you can't or don't share belly laughs together fairly often, you might want to think twice before spilling the beans. You know, the love beans.

10. The status of your relationship with yourself.

It's a cliche, but a cliche for a reason. In order to be in a healthy relationship with another human person, you need to be in a healthy relationship with yourself.


Look inward and examine your deepest emotions, along with your motivations for feeling the love you do for this particular person before you let your lips start flapping.

11. Whether or not they are emotionally available to receive and return your love.

Your sweetie may be physically present fairly often, but is their heart and soul connecting as well, or are they off wandering in some other place?

You may very well be this person's soulmate, but if they can't or won't disconnect from past relationships or emotional ties that separate a part of themselves from you, save your "I love you's" for someone who will be there with and for you with every single fiber of their being.


RELATED: We Said 'I Love You' — And It Totally Changed Our Relationship

What to Do if Someone Doesn't Say 'I Love You' Back

Taking that leap and telling someone you love them only for them to not say 'I love you' back can be a jarring experience.

While it may lead you to want to cut and run with your tail between your legs, know that it doesn't necessarily mean it's the end of your relationship. There are a number of reasons why someone may not say it back, including a fear of vulnerability or a feeling that it's just too soon.

1. Continue being open about your feelings.

Now, you don't want to bombard your partner with the phrase and make them uncomfortable. But you don't want to suppress how you feel either.


Instead of telling them how you feel with words, don't hold back from allowing your actions to convey your feelings.

2. Give them time.

After you tell someone you love them, they'll undoubtedly need time to process it. They'll let you know how they feel in their own time.

3. Pay attention to their actions.

You don't want to overanalyze everything little thing your partner is doing. However, you'll want to take note of any changes in their actions.

Are they pulling away instead of opening up to you? Or have you noticed they've become more comfortable around you? This will help you gauge how they feel about where your relationship stands.

4. Stay true to yourself.

If months go by without them reciprocating how you feel, it may be time to rethink the relationship. One-sided relationships are exhausting if you want to be with someone who feels as strongly as you do.


At this point, it's time to be open with them about your feelings and discuss the future of your relationship.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.