When is the Right Time to Say I Love You?

When is it the right time to say,  “I love you” in a hot, new, fresh relationship? I’m not talking about a casual fling where you don’t know intimate information about the other person, like favorite Darrin on Bewitched, chocolate or vanilla lube, or do you like your foreskin fluffed or puffed? I’m referring to an intimate cocoon of admiration, respect, and that cool feeling in your stomach that sort of feels like gas–but you’re pretty sure it’s butterflies. More often than not, we let our past dictate our future and fear overpower our lives which leaves us sitting on the sidelines talking smack about love and everyone who claims to have “found it.” In a world riddled with “he said, she said” but no one is really saying anything–I can’t help but wonder, “When is it the right time to say,  “I love you.”?

I took to some favorite bloggers in cyberspace to help me figure it out. This is what they had to say.

Helene from Man Shopping in Paris said:

I LOVE YOU is a phrase that I dish out sparingly. Only three males in my life have earned it:

– My dad (I couldn’t tell him until much later in life, but he did, after all, teach me how to load and fire semi-automatic weapons. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.)
– My last boyfriend (When my gut isn’t telling me to eat everything, it’s right about most things, so I went with it on this.)
– My dog (On the day that we met, he said it first when he waddled up and head-butted my ankle as a wee puppy. Only this once did a guy have to do so little to come home with me.)

When did I know that they were worthy? At some advanced point in the relationship (except my dog), when I empty my head of every rational thought and fleeting sensation like anger or lust, if the raw feeling that remains reads like LOVE, I figure, why not share it? I say, if you have to over-think it, it’s probably not a good time to say it…

Mike the Master Dater said:

I think I… I think I, love you,” this was the first time the L word escaped my lips. I was 15 years old and she was 16, one month later she was with another guy and melodramatically considered hanging myself in the closet with an old slinky. The next month my new girlfriend said the L word to me, and I promptly broke up with her.

When to say, “I love you?” Never? Always? The damage can be horrific and the pleasure god-like. When the expression of love, is not reciprocated or it dies in the hands of time, the crushing effect makes you never desire to dance with it again. Fortunately time miraculously heals and the drive to be loved never sleeps.

The last time I said “I love you” was about a year ago and I still love her dearly. I have found that love is not as dangerous as it once was, I don’t throw the word around lightly but at least now I throw it with assurity. When is the right time to say it? If you haven’t figured that out yet, break a few more hearts, let others stomp on yours and I promise you… It will become very clear very soon.

KB in NYC said:

When Nando asked me if I wanted to give my two cents worth on a hot topic I was like, Absolutely! (lord knows I have a lot of opinions). However, I have to tell you I’ve been thrown for a loop with this one. I mean, when is it the right time to say, “I love you”?

I truly have no freaking idea.

After a little more thought, it occurred to me that after a third date might be a good time. At least if you are me that is, because if I can make it to a third date then well…it must be love. Or darn near as close to it. I will also admit that I get very close to telling a man that I am madly in love with them every time I orgasm as well, but we all know that’s the hormones talking.

Seriously though, is there ever a “right” time? I think deep down, you just know. You know if you’re falling in love with someone, and you know if that feeling is reciprocated. I have a friend who was so relationship phobic it was ridiculous, and yet when she met her boyfriend she told him two weeks later that she loved him (and they are still together more than a year later).

Every person is different, as is every relationship and every situation. Follow your heart, but be smart too. Wait, is there any such thing as being smart when you’re in love? Probably not, in which case just go for it. Because love makes the world go round…or so I’ve been told.

Jack from Brooklyn said:

When is the right time to say ‘I love you’ ? I sincerely believe there are two motivating factors behind everything we do or don’t do: fear and desire. One will hold you back and one will propel you forward. When desire overcomes fear, you won’t be able to keep yourself from whispering those three magic words into your lover’s ear. You have to say the things and do the things that really matter to you today without hesitation, because you don’t know if you’re going to get another chance.  Sometimes, tomorrow never comes.  At the same time, you have to live with the awareness that every stone thrown into a pond sends ripples across the surface, and every choice you make today reverberates into your future.  If you don’t want to deal with the repercussions of your actions tomorrow, you should consider the consequences of your words today carefully.’

Lucky Girl from How Very Lucky said:

When Nando asked me to collaborate on his proposed project, “When is the right time to say I love you?” an old memory shot through my brain like bile to my mouth. Because the truth is, I didn’t know the answer. Far easier to list occasion NOT to say I love you. Obviously, the time I accidentally let those words slip after a drunken one-night stand needs no introduction here. Neither does a first date, second or even third. Probably not such a good idea to say I love you as a means of asking for something. Or while heavily medicated. Saying I love you during sex in the early stages of a relationship might not really be heard. Wouldn’t be heard during the Superbowl either, by most guys at least. It would be heard, but an infinitely bad idea, to say it while getting dumped.

Ask most men, and they’ll say the man should never be the one to utter those words first. Ask most women, and they’ll say never to use the “L” word before he does. And in that world, we’d have a whole bunch of people loving and never saying it. Always waiting.

So when is the right time to say I love you? I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what I think. I think the right time may just be a feeling. It’s when when you can’t help it, because those words are in a loop in your head. It’s when you’ve already said it with your actions and body and voice without having said it yet. It’s when you’re ready to say it and not because you need to hear it or feel you need to reciprocate.

The right time to say I love you is, quite simply, when you mean it.

Fishy from Plenty More Fish Out of Water said:

When is the right time to say ‘I love you’? Sorry Nando, but this really is a silly question. Everyone knows there’s only one ‘right time’ to first utter these three little words – directly after your partner says them. Otherwise you risk the humiliation of him/her quickly changing the subject. And, as we all know, love is first and foremost about avoiding humiliation.

I will just add a note of caution for women: if a man tells you he loves you prior to ejaculation, it carries about as much meaning as a promise to start doing the washing up more often…

Thoughts? Did any words above resonate with you? As always, do what feels right in your situation, unless you can be Wonder Woman, then, be Wonder Woman.

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14 thoughts on “When is the Right Time to Say I Love You?

  • March 12, 2010 at 11:19 am
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    This is a great collection of advice! I think it comes down to really listening to your intuition and knowing the distinction of precisely “what” it is that you love. The idea of having a BF or GF? The sex? The potential of that person? Your fantasy of them? The approval that your friends and family will give the two of you as a couple?

    Or do you love the person EXACTLY as they are right now? Do you love them and accept their “faults” or do you “tolerate” them? Have you had a conversation about anything more than a mutual passion for “24” and Chipotle?
    .-= Jeffrey Platts´s last blog ..500 Dates of Bummer =-.

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  • March 12, 2010 at 11:24 am
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    @ KB: Pics or it doesn’t count 😉
    @ Lucky: if I could hear a woman say those words during during sex over the sound of our ears popping, I’d assume I wasn’t f*cking her hard enough ,-)
    @ fishy: i love you (now awaiting humiliating silence and awkward segue…)

    Reply
  • March 12, 2010 at 11:46 am
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    Typical!

    As a wee Scottish lassie, the most relevant advice in this post was going to be from a British male…cue Fishy informing us that it’s best to wait until the girl says it.

    I think I might move to the States!

    Reply
  • March 12, 2010 at 3:20 pm
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    Fabulous work, everyone! It was great fun to read your responses.

    Mike and Jack, you two sound so wise and seasoned. KB, you are saucy, and I love it, lady. Lucky Girl, what you wrote was poetic! Fishy, as always, you never fail to make me laugh even as you’re laying some truth on me.

    Also, big mystery of the universe… why is it that men never do the washing up?
    .-= Man-shopper´s last blog ..Ms. Speed Dater (Part 1) =-.

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  • March 12, 2010 at 3:51 pm
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    Good topic Nando. I have to agree with Fishy. The last time I said I love you first I was in kindergarten and his name was Bubba (I’m from Texas too). Actually, I passed him a note in class so I don’t think that actually counts as saying it. He never responded, and afterwards, my face turned red every time I saw him. If I didn’t have this whole blushing thing to contend with, I might have been more bold starting with my next big crush in the 6th grade with the trumpet player.
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Cheating vs. Sleeping =-.

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  • March 12, 2010 at 4:55 pm
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    Nando, what a fantastic idea – I am honoured to be in such great company.

    Love is such a mine field but talk about on the money observations, wonderful lyricism and downright hilarity.

    Fabulousness indeed! XKB

    Reply
  • March 31, 2010 at 3:26 pm
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    Holy shit, is the dating blogging scene just one big circle jerk?

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    • March 31, 2010 at 3:42 pm
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      @Jada–can someone say Jaded?

      Reply
  • March 31, 2010 at 6:18 pm
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    Seems I’m a bit late to this party. =)

    Anyway, I really dig this post. Great advice. This is something I’ve struggled with as well. I’ve had girlfriend’s tel me they loved me and I felt this pressure to reciprocate when I didn’t really feel it. ugh!

    Anyway fabulous piece.
    .-= The Urban dater´s last blog ..Why a Man May Give You His Number Instead of Taking Yours. =-.

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