Knowing when to say I love you is basically the equivalent of finding out which wire to cut when diffusing a bomb. It’s stressful, anxiety-inducing, and can mean love, life, or death. If you say it too soon, then poof! Say it too late, then womp-womp. Apologies for the mediocre sound effects reference, but that is exactly how people see the dreaded consequences of saying “I love you.”
Most people want to know when they’re supposed to say it. But what we want you to learn is when you SHOULD say it. If you have any doubts about that, here are some guidelines on when it’s okay to say it. You can decide otherwise, but these are your safest bets.
#1 Not after the first date or after you first saw each other. This seems like a pretty big limitation, but it’s safer to consider strong feelings as infatuation, as opposed to actual love. You hardly know a person at this point, so it’s typically too soon to say that you love a stranger. If it’s love at first sight, however, it’s up to you to decide whether you’re willing to take a risk that quickly.
#2 When you trust your partner. Usually, love doesn’t come until after you trust a person. By that time, you’ll be able to say those three little words without any doubts or second guessing. We’ll never know what can happen after, but it feels a little safer to say it to someone that you trust completely.
#3 Not before, during, or after sex. Unfortunately, sex is one of the most mind-altering acts that anyone can do. It strengthens intimacy and bonds between individuals, but it also gives you the exact feeling of being in love. It’s better to say the words when you’re not on an orgasmic high, so you can differentiate between lustful love and romantic love.
#4 When your head is clear. Aside from getting your brain hopped up on hormones, there are other instances when your mind is too muddled to actually mean those words. When you’re feeling needy or ignored, it’s not right to use those words to manipulate a response from your partner. It’s also not advisable to use those words to make someone like you – that only works in the movies.
But there are real signs that you are, beyond any shadow of a doubt, in love and finally ready to say “I love you.”
1. Butterflies, rollercoasters, and backflipping hippogriffs.
This is the easiest marker to watch out for when you want to say “I love you.” That loopy feeling you get in your chest is your body’s way of saying, “We’re happy. Just go with it.” But if it’s a loopy feeling in your pants, you might be mistaking it for a different feeling. Still, those butterflies in your chest – even though science has no definite explanation for it – is a sign that one thing is for sure: This person makes you happy.
2. You have no doubts about it.
Thinking about saying it excites you; it doesn’t scare you at all. You’re not thinking about why you shouldn’t say it. You just know that it’s perfectly okay to say “I love you” even if you don’t get the response you’re expecting. That’s how you express love, right? Without wanting anything in return.
3. There is no reason why you shouldn’t.
There are only a few excuses why it’s not okay to say “I love you,” and one of those is to never say it to someone you hardly know. But if you know someone well and you feel strongly about them because of who they are, then it’s perfectly okay to say “I love you.”
4. You’re not expecting anything bad to happen.
The worst way to go about saying “I love you” is wondering about all the bad things that can happen if you do. Your partner might not say it back. They might think you’re going too fast. You might end up alone. If that’s how you see it, then you’re probably not ready. Relating it to any bad circumstances makes it pretty useless, even if you say it out loud.
5. Can’t stop yourself.
If you can’t stop yourself from saying it, it’s pretty clear that it’s what your heart is shouting. The only reason why you have this uncontrollable urge to say it is because there is no other thing left to say. You’re in love. But remember the other signs. If you’re not feeling any of those, the reason you’re saying it might not be the right one.
You can love someone as a person, as a friend, and as family, but saying you love someone because you’re in love with them isn’t that easy. But when you finally say it and when you truly feel it, you’ll see that it’s better than all the love in the world combined.