Should you wait for him to say it first?
What if you say it, but he doesn’t say it back?
And most importantly:
When is the right time to say it?
These are all questions you’ll have asked yourself if you’ve contemplated telling a man those 3 magical words for the first time.
With good reason.
Saying “I love you” at the wrong time can be as damaging to a new relationship as a failed marriage proposal is to an established one.
Clearly, no coach can tell you exactly when to say it. Ultimately, when to say “I love you” is a personal decision you have to decide for yourself. The beauty of love is the fact that everyone feels and defines it differently.
However, if you want to maximize the chances it goes well, here 5 important points to consider.
How do YOU define ‘love’?
Think about what you consider to be your definition of love. How do you define it?
Most women, when I ask them this question, tell me, “I don’t know – I just feel it!”
So I encourage them, and you, to go deeper, by asking a follow up question:
When that feeling occurs, how much do you typically know about the guy? For example, how many things can you name you DON’T like about him?
I’ve noticed that in successful, long-term, loving couples, the woman has absolutely no problem naming negatives about her lover. Sometimes, I have to stop her or she just keeps going!
But she still loves him.
Is that your definition of love?
How well do you have to know a man’s faults – warts and all – before you call it love?
While no coach can ever give you a timeframe of exactly when to say the words, I’d recommend you base your definition on how well you know all aspects of him. Not just the ones you like.
If you go to say I love you and you can’t name a number of things you don’t like about him, consider whether it could be the rose-colored glasses talking. It might be worth putting the “I love you’s” on hold for a couple more months until you know him better.
Make him work for it
I’ve always found it odd that our society teaches young women to make a guy work for sex and value their bodies copiously, yet rarely have I heard anyone tell young women to make men work for their love and value something much more important – their heart.
If you sleep with a man and he disappears, it can be very disappointing. Relatively speaking though, casual sex is not emotionally traumatic for most people. After all, that’s what a booty call is.
But if you love someone and he leaves, it can take months or years to get over and can leave you with deep and potentially permanent emotional scarring.
Your love, support and companionship is the ultimate gift and energy you can give to a man. Don’t underestimate its value. Men have started wars to earn love from the woman they desire.
Sex and valuing your body is important, but make a man work even harder to win your heart. Don’t give your love away to every guy you’ve known for just a few months. Make a man earn the greatest gift you have to give.
Pick your moment
If, after all this, you’ve decided he is the right guy, say it in a private, safe space, where you won’t be interrupted. Make sure neither of you have anywhere to be and that you’re both feeling open and vulnerable.
Avoid the 3 “Don’ts”
There are few hard rules for saying ‘I love you,’ but this is one.
Don’t say it for the first time when you’re:
Have been exclusive for less than 3 months
When you say “I love you”, you want it to be the most genuine thing you’ve ever said to your partner. Sex and alcohol prevent this.
As for the 3-month rule, unless you can name a number of things you don’t like about him (perhaps, he was a long-term friend before you dated), you’re best off holding your tongue – just to be certain. After all, there’s no rush. The habit of confessing your love to guys you’ve only known 6-8 weeks is one that’s sure to come back to bite you.
Avoid repeating yourself
Finally, if you decide to say it and you put your heart out there, there’s always a chance it may not be reciprocated. That doesn’t mean panic stations – it could simply mean it doesn’t fit his definition yet. However, don’t repeat yourself, at least for a while.
I’ve met a few women, who say, “I don’t care if he doesn’t say it back; it’s how I feel, so I’m just going to keep saying it.”
I don’t recommend this. Remember, your love is the most valuable gift you have to offer. You wouldn’t keep hugging someone who never hugged you back. You wouldn’t keep paying attention to someone who never paid you attention. So why would you do it with love?
This also doesn’t consider the fact that, even if it’s not your aim, he does feel pressure from you to say it back. You want him to say it on his own terms, not because he’s under pressure from you.
There’s two other questions I’m often asked on this topic.
“What if he hasn’t said we’re exclusive, but I’m absolutely sure he has been? Is it then OK if I say it sooner than 3 months?”
There’s no rush. Have the conversation about exclusivity, first. Let love blossom for another month or two unsaid. No man has ever left a woman in an otherwise great relationship because she kicked off the “I love you’s” a couple of months late.
“What if he keeps saying it and won’t let up, but I’m not sure I feel it yet?”
Be open. It’s important to communicate that you love where things are at, but that you need more time and don’t want to feel pressured.
“I love spending time with you and love where we are going, but I need time before I’m ready to say it back. That could be a couple of weeks or it could be a couple of months, so I just need you to give me time and take the pressure off, so we can keep going the way we have been, yeah?”
In summary, love, including its declaration, is the greatest gift you have to offer a man. Treat it as such. Savor it and make a man work hard – while getting to know all aspects of him – before you decide it’s time.
As long as you’ve done this and feel it genuinely, you can rest assured you’ll be saying “I love you” at the perfect time.