1. Because true love takes time.
When you start to really enjoy someone’s presence, it’s easy to get affection mixed up with love. You might love being around that person, love the feeling of their hand in yours, love knowing you’re each other’s special people—but that isn’t the same as loving them.
True love takes time. And it’s not something you can rush. Even if you’re biting your tongue, wanting so desperately to say those three little words to your significant other—give yourself time to really process what that means. You don’t want to say it too quickly because you feel something in the moment. You want to know, beyond a doubt, that love is what you feel inside your chest.
2. Because that phrase isn’t a ‘fixer.’
Love is not a problem-solver, as much as we wish it to be. Sometimes when our relationships start to have problems, we think that simply telling our partners we love them will fix what’s gone wrong. But that’s not true. Saying ‘I love you’ cannot heal what’s been broken or bring back trust. It’s not something that can mend a fight, especially if it’s said for the first time because it seems like more of a desperation or an excuse than something genuine. Wait to say those words when the timing is right and the feeling is genuine.
3. Because your openness—either hasty or genuine—might scare your partner away.
You never want to say ‘I love you’ with urgency to save a relationship or to make someone feel a certain way. Love isn’t something you can force upon a person, or even force within yourself. Maybe you feel so strongly towards your significant other—this is beautiful, but give it time. Allow your partner’s emotions to process and blossom at their own rate. Don’t try to rush them into mutual feelings by expressing your heart too soon. It’s good to share how you feel when you feel it, but be cautious, too, as your wealth of emotion (especially early on) might frighten them rather than bring you two closer.
4. Because it’s more meaningful at the perfect time.
Sometimes we feel something so strongly it takes all of our energy to hold back. This is understandable, but blurting out ‘I love you’ at the wrong time won’t make the special memory you may be hoping for.
There’s something to be said for those words slipping out of your mouth at random—this can be beautiful, yes! But do remember that saying it at what feels like the ‘perfect’ time might create a moment between you and your partner that neither of you will ever forget. And if that’s what you want, then hold off until the timing is right.
5. Because you cannot say it in hopes of making someone stay.
Love should not be used to coerce, to change, or to convince. Those three words cannot save a relationship or fix something that has fallen off the tracks.
If you’re trying to say those words in hopes of keeping your partner in the relationship, save your breath. Confessing something so personal and close to your heart will only leave you broken if the feeling isn’t reciprocated, and is deceitful and manipulative if you say those words without meaning them.
6. Because anything that’s said in haste might be regretted later.
You want to make sure you’re saying something because you feel it, not because you feel pressured to, or want to ‘say it first,’ or want something to happen because of your confession. Anything you say without true, honest intentions has the chance of being regretted later. And saying ‘I love you’ is something you can’t simply take back.
7. Because emotions need to be processed first.
You must give yourself time to understand what love is and what it means. You cannot jump into a relationship and say those words without giving yourself, and your significant other, proper time to process the feelings, emotions, attractions, and passions you have towards one another.
8. Because love is different with and for every person.
Love may mean two different things to two different people, and this is okay. But sometimes it’s good to give yourself time before saying ‘I love you,’ just in case your version of love doesn’t quite match with that of your partner’s.
Perhaps talking about the security, the stability, the promise of your relationship will help. Perhaps making sure you know one another on a deeper level first, before saying anything too serious will be a good guide. Perhaps just understanding your partner’s past, previous relationships, and whether or not they have been in love before can also allow you to see where they are and what they feel with you before you let those words slip.
9. Because you don’t need to, and should never feel pressured to say it.
Love doesn’t have a timeline. You aren’t expected to feel a certain way by a given moment, or have to know, beyond a doubt, that you’re in love by a certain day/month/year. Of course you never want to string someone along if you’re not feeling passionate about them, but in the reverse, don’t let yourself feel pressured to say those words, even (and especially) if your partner has already said them.
Let yourself feel what you feel naturally. Let yourself find the perfect moment (or random moment) to express these emotions. Let yourself do what feels natural and comfortable. And when you’re ready and sure of what you feel, let yourself love.