When's the Right Time to Say "I Love You"?

The moment of saying "I love you" marks a before and after in a relationship. Let's take a look at the right time to say it.
When's the Right Time to Say "I Love You"?
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Imagine you’ve met a new partner who seems perfect for you. Just thinking of them makes you smile, you love spending time with them, and you feel the desire growing inside you to tell them how much they mean to you. However, you may be wondering if it’s too soon to say “I love you”.

There are no dogmas or protocols in this process. Indeed, we’re all different, as are our relationships. Nevertheless, saying those three little words undoubtedly marks a before and after in a relationship, either for better or worse. For this reason, it’s advisable not to rush and to make sure you choose the right time. You can base this on the following factors.

What does it mean to say “I love you”?

We’re not all the same when it comes to emotional expression. For some, it’s easy to express and show affection while others are more cautious in doing so. That said, the truth is that it’s an essential component in the evolution of relationships.

When your partner tells you “I love you” it helps reduce your uncertainty and you also understand how the relationship is progressing in their eyes. It’s a sign that everything’s going well, that they see potential in the union, and want to continue moving forward. Likewise, if you’re the first one to say it, they’ll experience the same feelings.

However, depending on the moment chosen, these three words may be experienced as an attempt to manipulate or as an act of pressure. In fact, some only say it with the intention of obtaining a sexual benefit.

On the other hand, if you take too long to express what you feel, your budding relationship may suffer. For instance, your partner may feel confused and unappreciated and think that you’re not interested or willing to commit.

You need to find a balance and learn how to declare your affection at the right moment. So when’s the right time?

Happy couple looking at each other activating limbic resonance

When’s the right time to say “I love you”?

You should bear in mind that if your feelings aren’t genuine, you certainly shouldn’t say “I love you”. For example, if you’re motivated by ulterior motives, social pressure, or a lack of your own emotion.

People often express these words having only met their new partner a few days ago. Some might even say it without having met them in person, as they’ve only exchanged messages over their cellphones. In these situations, they’re projecting their inner desire to feel loved and be in a relationship. In effect, they don’t really want the other person (the one they’re idealizing ), but what they think they may represent.

People often frequently confuse the feeling of love with others that are really common at the beginning of a relationship. For instance, hope, connection, or chemistry. In fact, when you find someone’s appearance or personality really attractive and enjoy their company, you may be tempted to say “I love you”. However, this feeling won’t be really genuine until you get to know them.

In this case, it’s possible that you really like them a lot and they arouse your admiration and interest but it’s prudent to give yourself some time to discover all their characteristics, share some moments together, and let your feelings grow and develop.

Happy couple, depicting when's the right time to say" I love you"

A reasonable time

Love goes through different phases and falling in love (the first stage) is the most unstable. Indeed, in this initial period, you’re flooded with neurotransmitters that make you experience feelings of euphoria, passion, desire, and pleasure when you’re with them. Therefore, it could be that this time of ‘alienation’ from your real self isn’t the most appropriate to declare love.

Most people consider between one and three months a reasonable time to make such declarations. In other cases, it can take up to six months. However, from this point on, if the desire to say “I love you” hasn’t arisen, it might be said that something isn’t quite right.

Obviously, a few months isn’t enough time to get to know a person completely. Nevertheless, if you use this time wisely, you’ll be able to get a fairly accurate idea of their values, plans, and priorities, as well as their personality and how similar or opposite they are to you.

Finally, before you utter those three little words, make sure you’re in tune with the feeling of love itself. If you sense that you’re rushing into it, you may need to consider whether you’re emotionally dependent or afraid of loneliness. If this is the case, consulting a psychologist could be of great help to you. They’ll help you learn to bond more healthily with yourself and with others.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.