Three little words: when should you say 'I love you'?
Imagine you’ve met someone. You’ve fallen in love. You decide to put your heart on the line…
You: ‘I love you’
Your partner: ‘…. umm’
The stuff of nightmares, right? Yep, there’s little more terrifying than professing your love, only to be met with that heart-stopping silence.
Jumping the gun can push someone away
Of course, saying ‘I love you’ shouldn’t have to follow a timeline or stick to social rules, but the fact is that expressing your love too early on in the game can push a potential partner away. It comes down to psychology: if you tell your partner ‘I love you’ prematurely, they may doubt their own feelings for you and – despite the fact that love has a capacity to grow - chose to abandon the relationship as a result.
- Read more: What if you experience strong feelings early on? Here's the low down on love at first sight
How soon is too soon to say ‘I love you’?
But what is considered ‘premature’ anyway?
We asked our EliteSingles members when it’s OK to say ‘I love you’ to a new partner. The majority (53%) of the 700 survey respondents said 6 months was the ideal duration.1 Twenty-nine percent said 1 month was long enough, and 5% said they would wait as little as 1 week if it felt right! At the other end of the spectrum, 10% thought you should wait 1 year before saying ‘I love you’ and 3% thought you should wait as long as 2 years.
Profound love is for the long term… patience and calmness is the name of the game
- Dr. Aaron Ben-Zeév PhD.
L is for long term
In his essay ‘In the Name of Love’ Professor of Philosophy Dr. Aaron Ben-Zeév PhD imparts some invaluable wisdom when he says; ‘Profound love is for the long term… patience and calmness is the name of the game’.2 So if you’re bursting to say 'I love you' but aren’t yet sure if your partner feels the same way, consider using actions to express your love; show your partner that you love them through affection or thoughtful deeds. Dr. Ben-Zeev offers another alternative: ease gradually into saying ‘I love you’ by first starting with something like ‘I love what I see in you’.
- Read more: not ready to say it out loud? Learn 15 little actions that say 'I love you'
Can you have too much love?
Once you’ve caved in and said the three magic words, what’s next? Do you open the flood gates and profess your love daily, or leave ‘I love you’ for birthdays and the odd special occasion? According to our EliteSingles members, it seems most people like to hear it on a weekly or even daily basis; 33% said they wanted to hear it at least once per week and 58% said they wanted to hear it every day!
But while it may be tempting to use ‘I love you’ as a way of reassuring your partner (and yourself) that your relationship is in good health, our in-house Psychologist Salama Marine advises caution:
Saying ‘I love you’ is more efficient than any other phrase to show attachment and commitment. But saying it every day can seem a bit excessive. The heavy meaning of the three words may be lost over time, that’s why it is best to be reasonable and save it for special moments.
Salama Marine, EliteSingles Psychologist
Don’t over think it!
No matter who you ask, everyone loves to add their two cents about when you should say ‘I love you’. (Evidently, we even found it hard to resist!). But in the end, try to take other’s advice with a pinch of salt. Love does not stick to a particular set of rules. It doesn’t grow linearly nor logically. So if you genuinely love someone, and you want to share that with them, do it; for all you know, they’ve been dying to say it too.
When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew.
– Arrigo Boito