The words “I love you” often signify a milestone in a relationship and is arguably the most powerful phrase in the English language because of the emotion it evokes. For most people, hearing their partner say those three words for the first time is one of the highlights of a romantic relationship.
Maybe you have this urgent need to say “I love you” to someone special in your life. Perhaps you’ve bottled up your feelings of love, and you’re dying to spill them out, but you’re wondering whether you should go ahead or hold back. You may be asking yourself, how soon is too soon to say I love you? People are rarely sure about when to declare their love, so is there a best time to profess your love? And does timing make a difference?
There’s plenty of conflicting advice, making everything even more confusing. Some advice focuses on timing, but is timing more important than self-disclosure and honesty? A more plausible suggestion has it that there’s no precise formula for when to open your heart and that you should say “I love you” the moment you feel it, without giving too much thought to timing.
On the other hand, some psychologists believe that it’s too early to say I love you if you don’t know the person well. You won’t know someone well until a few things happen: you’ve met some of their family members, colleagues or friends; you’ve learned about their upbringing; you know their habits and daily routine; they’ve shared personal details with you; and lastly, you’ve both had a couple of meaningful experiences together.
Are You Sure If It’s Love?
A new relationship is exciting. It starts with the initial intrigue and the overwhelming attraction. At this stage, it’s hard to distinguish between love and infatuation. In other words, just because you and your partner have a strong attraction towards each other, share a mutual fondness for taking romantic walks in the park, and binge-watching 90s sitcoms doesn’t mean you’re in love.
Too many people declare their love for one another during the first 6 to 18 months of a relationship, referred to as the honeymoon stage. Unfortunately, in most cases, it may be too early to know your true feelings about the person. The excitement of the honeymoon phase blinds many people. There’s no harm in enjoying this stage, but don’t rush the relationship.
Professing your love too early can cause issues while taking too long runs the risk of causing doubt and unease. Some experts consider three months to be a reasonable period, but that can vary from one person to another. The most critical thing is to say it when you mean it. Confessing those words too early may derail a relationship on the right track, but not when the investment is solid.
For instance, a person may not be quite ready to say “I love you” after hearing it for the first time, but that’s unlikely to scare them away if they’re genuinely looking forward to building a future with the person that said it first. However, a person who is negatively triggered by those words, a bit emotionally immature, or not fully committed to the relationship could be scared off.
While three months may be considered reasonable, research reveals that men are more likely than women to say “I love you” within just a week of dating.
Before you succumb to a moment of passion and say it in the moment, digest the feeling and think about what your expectations are surrounding the topic. For some people, the expectation is that once you say it, that’s the beginning of a committed relationship. For others, it may simply mean you are deepening a friendship.
You also want to think about how you’ll feel if the other party doesn’t reciprocate the sentiment. In many situations, you may be dying to confess the truth and can’t wait to unpack your feelings. While you hope that the other person will return those feelings, you’re willing to accept it if they feel differently or aren’t ready to say it back. This is the best frame of mind you want to be in.
When you’re sincere, confessing one’s love is typically not a problem. The difficulty derives from the different personal tendencies to reveal one’s feelings and the different paces at which love develops. People develop love or express them at different times and for various reasons.
Besides gender, personality differences can also cause people to develop love at different times. However, the rate at which the feelings are developed doesn’t necessarily indicate varying levels of romantic commitment. It’s not uncommon for the one who falls in love more quickly to be the one who more quickly falls out of love.
Similarly, outspoken individuals tend to express their love sooner than their shy counterparts.
Love grows at different speeds for all of us, but this doesn’t mean you should hide your love just because your significant other isn’t as in love with you as you are with them. Be open and honest about your attitude and give the person you’re involved with the time they need for feelings toward you to develop into profound love.
Their expression of love might be gradual, and they might reveal their love in more indirect or softer ways until, finally, they say the actual words “I love you.” The fact that one takes more time doesn’t mean the other is less committed to the journey than the one who gets there faster or that they’re not advancing.
It’s important to respect different personalities. Don’t expect your partner to feel and say the same things you do at the same time. Real love is a long term commitment, and it’s important to respect your partner’s journey to discover their feelings of love for you.
Because love is more of a process rather than an event, it slowly evolves with you, building trust, presence, and connection over time. Love is much more than hot sex and things that excite us. Love is when you will drop all your plans to take care of a loved one that has fallen ill. Before telling someone else you love them, examine the relationship you have with yourself.
Be open and honest with yourself because you can easily confuse other feelings with love when you’re in a vulnerable place. For example, loneliness and desperation may drive you to open your heart to someone when a feeling of love doesn’t fuel the motivation for doing so.
We often develop habits of seeking relationships to fulfill specific needs. For example, you may believe you’re in the pursuit of love when you’re unconsciously seeking a happy distraction or an emotional crutch. Our vulnerabilities threaten to deceive us. If you’re going through a rough patch in your life and find someone who brings you happiness, it’s normal to feel the impulse to say, “I love you” quickly. However, most of the time, you’re saying that you’re lonely and hurting and want to connect with someone who cares about you. While it may feel good in the moment, misdirected feelings can create problems down the road.
If you say “I love you” and the other person doesn’t reciprocate or feel the same way, it’s important to take a deep breath before you panic. It doesn’t necessarily mean the other person doesn’t love you; some people are more cautious about expressing their feelings, especially if they come from a family where the words “I love you” were rarely used, or if they have experienced a great deal of rejection in the past.
When deciding the right time to say those words, consider the personality of the individual you’re involved with and tune into their unique feelings. Keep in mind that many people consider the words “I love you” to be the beginning of the next step in the relationship. Be ready to adjust your intentions because things will likely change once those words are exchanged, and expectations may rise.
When you progress in your relationship from interest to infatuation to love, many people start getting a bit anxious, and the feeling of not being able to contain their emotions for that person becomes stronger. But before professing your love, ask yourself if you’re ready to follow through with the actions, the patience, and the commitment that comes after saying those words.
It doesn’t matter who declares their love the first or says it more frequently. The most critical thing is whether or not there’s real love in your relationship and how it develops. Focus on depth and emotions rather than timing.
So, how soon is too soon to say I love you? Unfortunately, there’s no definite answer, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. Every relationship is unique, and no one will understand the details of a relationship besides the two people involved in it.