How To Know When To Say “I Love You”

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated December 4, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Most of us use the word “love” in many different ways. We don’t hesitate to say things like, “I love this movie”—but saying “I love you” to another person can feel deeply meaningful and significant. Declaring your love for someone can also be scary, and it may signify a shift in your relationship with that person going forward. 

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Why Is It Hard To Determine When To Say It?

Telling someone that you love them is taking a risk. If you’ve been just friends up until that point, the confession may change your relationship forever. If you’re romantically involved, they may not be ready to say it back, or may not see the relationship heading in that direction.

Another reason it can be tricky to determine the timing of when to say “I love you” is that people experience these things on different timelines. Someone may take longer to recognize, be sure about, and then express feelings like this. Others may have boundaries around this sort of thing to keep themselves from becoming too emotionally invested too quickly. Still others might take more time because they’ve been hurt in the past and hope to gain more certainty before taking this leap. Finally, people simply feel and are wired differently, so there’s no way to give a single, specific answer that will apply to everyone or even to most people.

Signs That You May Be Ready To Tell Someone You Love Them

If you're trying to decide whether you’re ready to tell someone you love them, remember that there’s no rush. Try to avoid comparing your relationship to someone else’s or to one you’ve had in the past, or feeling pressured by societal expectations, media, social media, or friends to do something you’re not ready for. Take your time and listen to your true feelings. 

Your Relationship Is Comfortable

It’s not uncommon for people to reveal their true selves slowly as they get to know someone. Once you’ve been together long enough to start relaxing into your true self because you feel comfortable and safe around this person, it could be a sign that you’re entering a phase of your relationship where love has begun to grow.

You’ve Established Trust

One dictionary definition of the word “trust” is “feeling safe when vulnerable”. This sentiment describes the level of trust you may want to have with your partner before telling them you love them. 

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You Have A Friendship

Research indicates that people tend to be more satisfied with their romantic relationships when they consider their partner to be a friend as well. If you feel that your partner is enjoyable to be around, supportive, has things in common with you, or has other qualities you’d look for in a friend, it may be a sign that your romantic relationship has a strong foundation that could grow into love.

They Positively Contribute To Your Life

Loving someone often includes loving and appreciating the role they play in your life. You may feel that they draw out qualities in you that you like, or that they help you be a better person or pursue your dreams. They might influence you to try new things or have a more positive outlook. While it’s generally not healthy to depend on another person for our sense of self, a romantic partner who brings joy and positive contributions to your life may be someone you could love.

Seeking Support Or Guidance On Your Romantic Life

If you’re having trouble figuring out what you feel and where your relationship stands, consider connecting with a therapist. They can help you sort through your feelings so you can make decisions on how to move forward. For example, if you’re hesitant to tell someone you love them because you’ve been hurt in romantic relationships in the past, a therapist can help you process that pain and find strategies for moving forward. If low self-esteem or an insecure attachment style is preventing you from being vulnerable in this way, a therapist can work with you to address these challenges. Whatever concerns you might be facing about your romantic relationship, a therapist may be able to offer the guidance you need to handle them.

Through virtual therapy, you can speak with a counselor from the comfort of your own home. Research has shown that this format can be effective for a range of concerns and conditions, and some people may find it to be a more comfortable option than in-person sessions. If you’re interested in online therapy, a platform like BetterHelp can connect you with a licensed therapist who you can speak with via phone call, video call, and/or chat in order to address the concerns or challenges you may be facing. See below for reviews of BetterHelp counselors from individuals who have been in similar situations.

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Counselor Reviews

He’s not only provided me support but insight and encouragement to let me know I’m on a good path to self-improvement and discovery. Furthermore, Mark has provided me valuable insight on my romantic relationship, specifically with learning more about the relationship dynamics and how to build a stronger, healthier relationship.”

“Dr. Kapil has a variety of worksheets for me to go through depending on my concerns. She provides a non-judgmental space for me to release my emotions, and I feel very safe talking to her. I really appreciate the way she challenges my perspective and explains clearly that I can have healthier thinking by changing my perspective. She is also currently helping me to be more assertive when communicating and expressing myself more freely. She always checks in with me and is extremely responsive so I really appreciate her.”


Deciding when to tell a romantic partner that you love them can be a big decision. The tips on this list may help you decide if it’s the right time, and speaking with a therapist may also be a useful tool in making this choice.

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