The Different Stages of “I Love You”

· January 3, 2016

Many times, the greatest  of romances end with a teary-eyed “I love you.” It’s true that within a relationship, depending on the stage that we decide to say these beautiful words, they can mean very distinct things.

Now, it’s very likely that the “I love you” we hear for the first time is different from the one we hear a year or so after dating our partner.

Why are there so many meanings to the words “I love you”?

When two people are in a relationship, they end up growing together. Within our own path of personal growth, each one of us experiences new situations that affect our relationships with other people. Because of this, the meaning “I love you” continues to evolve throughout the course of the relationship. 

However, there is something that remains unchanged when we use this phrase: the person we say it to. It makes no difference how these words are expressed: with tears, laughter, hugging…it still maintains its importance and magic in any relationship.

So, what does “I love you” mean in each phase?

Two months: I like how everything is moving along.

In a stable, long-term relationship, two months isn’t very long and goes by very quickly. It’s true that we feel the most “in love” in the beginning of our relationship, having discovered that very special person with whom we can build a life. Saying “I love you” within the first two months communicates the feeling that we believe what we have with this person will last a lifetime. But, if we are realistic, we know that nothing lasts forever, even a two-month old relationship.

It’s important to emphasize that in this first stage, many of us can confuse the way that we love someone throughout our lives and end up saying “I love you” instead of “I really like you”. This can be due to  the personal immaturity that comes with being young or not having enough experience being in a long-term relationship.

It’s recommended to reflect and look inside before using this very powerful phrase. That way, you will be able to avoid any emotional misunderstandings and not cause any harm to the person that you are really starting to love.

Five months: you are important.

Studies say that we find ourselves here during the final days of the first phase of falling in love. Saying “I love you” now can mean “you are an important part of my life” and “I would like to keep a place for you in my heart”.

In this phase, we may feel a bit uncertain and different doubts and fears can run through our minds: Will they break my heart? Will he/she feel the same way that I do? A timeframe of less than six months normally doesn’t give us complete clarity of our feelings for someone. Therefore, an “I love you” during this phase means that we are continuing to feel those butterflies in our stomachs, but perhaps not yet in our hearts.


Six months: We are perfect together.

During this time, neither person can stop thinking about the other. You love everything that he/she does and everything that has to do with them. You both express your love in many ways: through photos, letters, gifts, etc…

“I love you” means so much more now than what it meant three months ago. With these words, you are now implicitly sending the message that you love how this person makes you feel and the best part is that you really feel like you are becoming a part of their life and they are becoming a part of yours.

Nine months: It’s our love.

There is a saying that “loving someone is like moving to a different city.” This begins to make sense as the more time that passes in a relationship, the more you become used to evolving together on an emotional level. When we say “I love you” during this phase, what we really mean is what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine.

As of now, this “I love you” is something that you both share, just like everything else that takes place in your relationship.

Ten months: You are my best friend.

Now is the time when being with your partner is completely natural. Being apart is a bit “painful” and feels strange to you. During this phase, “I love you” carries much more weight; it doesn’t matter whether you say it after a joke or with a text, it is still just as meaningful.

It’s very likely that if someone asked you how you felt, you’d not only say that your partner is “the most incredible person,” you would also say “they are my best friend.”

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This kind of “I love you” goes way beyond what your partner can offer you or what you wish you could offer them. It’s when the word “love” really starts to enter into the deepest parts of your heart.

One year: You are my world.

Surely what you are experiencing within your relationship is pure and unconditional love if you are asked how you feel about your partner and you respond with “I can’t imagine what life would be without them.” This is when “I love you” is much more permanent because you don’t question who feels more in love nor do you worry about the other person feeling the same way you do.

You feel secure and comfortable. Telling your partner that you love them relaxes you, opens you up, and makes you feel complete when you are standing next to them.

Two years: I’m thinking about the future.

“I love you” during this phase means “I love who you are and I will love who you are going to be.” It’s obvious that this meaning comes after you experience that feeling of confidence: as long as you two are together, nothing is impossible and nothing scares you.

Three years: Permanence.

“I love you” means that you want to make the love that you feel for your partner something permanent. You want to share everything with the person you love. You live a life full of affection, confidence, wisdom and, most important, mutual learning experiences.

During this phase, “I love you” can be a quicker way of saying “you are everything that I want.” This is what your heart and soul are longing to say.

Four years: your dreams are alive.

One of the most amazing experiences  that can happen to a human being is to love and be loved. Love is everything. Feeling true love from another person and returning that love unconditionally is said to be unlike anything else.

You aren’t looking for much more at this phase since you feel you have reached a type of emotional nirvana. Many people will tell you how lucky you are and many others will even be jealous. And why not? There are many people who come into this world and still don’t know what it feels like to experience true love.

This article has outlined the different phases of relationships as they evolve. However, it’s important to be aware that each partner needs and experiences different things. For example, many people may stay stuck in one of these phases, feeling that they need more time or emotional tools in order to evolve within the relationship.

By: Paula Diaz