How To Know When To Say I Love You

By Stephanie Kirby

Updated February 11, 2020

Reviewer Shemya Vaughn , LPC, CRC


Love is a funny word. It's a word that we throw around a lot. We don't hesitate to say things like "I love pizza," or "I love this movie," but when it comes to saying "I love you" to another person we tend to freeze up. The word has little meaning when we use it in general ways, but when we attach it to another human, we know it's a big deal. So, how do you know when the time is right?

Why Is It So Hard To Determine When To Say It?

When we tell someone that we love them, we are being vulnerable and essentially opening ourselves up to being hurt. What if they don't feel the same way that we do? We don't want to scare the other person away by saying it too early when they aren't ready. And, we don't want to look foolish if they just don't feel the same way.

Even though it's three simple words, they hold a lot of power when spoken to another person. Sometimes we believe that it's better not to take the risk to say it because then we don't have to find out if they don't feel the same way. So, we take the ignorance bliss road. But, eventually, if you love the person, you are going to want to tell them.

The Timing Is Not The Same For Everyone

There is no magical formula that is going to tell you when it's right to say "I love you" to your significant other. If you ask ten different people when they first said it in a relationship you will most likely receive ten different responses. So, how do you know when the time is right for you?


First, it's important to know when you shouldn't say it. "I love you" is not something to say because you feel obligated to say it. They are powerful words and shouldn't be said if you don't mean them. That can put you in an awkward situation if someone says it to you and you just aren't ready to say it back yet. As politely as you can thank them for loving you and sharing it with you. Then, explain to them that while you have strong feelings for them you just aren't ready to say those words just yet, and you want to make sure that when you do say them, it is meaningful. You can't do anything about their response, but if they stick with you, it will mean the world when you finally do say them.

Below are some common signs and changes that happen when you love someone. If you can identify with them as you read through them, it is a good indication that you love the other person.

How To Know When It's Time To Say I Love You

You have moved from pure excitement to a level of being comfortable. When relationships are brand new, they are often incredibly exciting. There is a feeling of newness around you. You want everything to be just right, and you work hard to make it happen. This includes how you look, what you say, and what you do when you are together. You might pretend to like things that you don't so you can have something in common with the other person. These are all normal things when the relationship is new. However, when you love someone, you can move past the initial exciting stage of a relationship with them. You can be yourself around the other person, and you want them to be comfortable being themselves around you.

You have established trust. It's easy to have a "crush" or feelings of infatuation for anyone. But, love is different because it needs to be based on trust. You cannot trust someone that you do not know, and that means you can't love someone that you don't know. However, the feelings of true love begin to show as you develop trust with your significant other. You believe that they have your best interest at heart and the same goes for you. When you trust the other person, it allows you to be vulnerable with your emotions and communicate your feelings to them.


They are your best friend. One sign that you love someone is that they are not just the person you are dating, they have become your best friend. You can't wait to tell them about things that happened to you throughout the day. When something funny happens, you think of that person because you want to share it with them. You enjoy spending all your time with them and participate in activities and hobbies together.

This is a good foundation for a romantic relationship to be built on. Infatuation will quickly pass, but if your partner is also your best friend, you will be more likely to stick with the relationship even during the trying times that will come your way.

You just feel it. Sometimes it doesn't matter what all the signs are, you just "know" inside of you that you love that person. If you are an overly impulsive person, you may want to take a second before you just blurt it out though. Once you say the words, you can't take them back. So, while sometimes you just know that you know that you love the other person if it's only been a few dates you might want to take some time to think before telling them.

It may feel right for you, but also want to respect the other person and not make them feel uncomfortable. This is one reason you often hear people say that they knew from the first date that they were going to marry that person. They might have "known" it, but it doesn't mean that they told the other person at that moment.

You've introduced each other to the family. You don't want just to introduce every person that you date to your parents. That would be uncomfortable. You know that as soon as you bring someone home, the long list of questions is going to start. That's why you wait and only bring home someone that you are serious about. If you have met their family and they have met yours the relationship is moving from like to something deeper.


On the other hand, if you don't feel ready to introduce them to your family, then it could be a sign that you aren't ready to tell them that you love them. And, if they are telling you that they love you but aren't willing to bring you home, yet you might want to ask them what they are waiting for.

You are a better person when you're with them. When you are with someone that you love you want to be a better person. You genuinely feel happier than you did before you met them. You have a more positive outlook on life. Things seem to be going right for you, and even when you face trials, they are easier to face because you have someone that you are sharing it with.

This might be hard to see in yourself, but it's easy for others that are close to you to spot. If you are wondering if the person you are with is impacting the kind of person you are, ask someone who knows you well.

Don't overthink it. When it all boils down, love starts as a feeling and then continues as a choice. If you can identify with the feelings and signs above, then it's probably safe to say that you do love the other person. If you decide to tell them, you don't have to make a big scene out of it. Simply just let it pop out the next time that you think it when you are with them. Sometimes, the struggle of trying to find the "right way" to say "I love you" is what holds people back from saying it. However, those words are always nice for someone to hear, especially for the first time, that saying them alone makes it special.


Love is complicated. If you have been hurt in the past, it can make it harder to say those special words to another person. But, don't let your fear hold you back from happiness. Or, maybe you said it too soon in the past and didn't want to make that mistake again. If you are struggling with figuring out how you feel and where your relationship stands, contact an online therapist. They can help you sort through your feelings and determine if you really do love the other person and what could be holding you back from saying "I love you."

You do not have to struggle with your emotions and feelings alone. Sometimes that outside perspective is what you need. However, if you know that you love the person you are with, don't be afraid to share it with them.

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