When is the best time to say “I love you?”

My boyfriend and I had been going out for a few months but had yet to use the “L word.” One day I was on a train, ready to pull out of Piccadilly station, when I saw my boyfriend mouth from the platform – “I love you.” Filled with a mixture of panic and a sense of “yes! Finally!” I reacted by shaking my head and mouthing back through the window, “no you don’t!” Which was just as well. Because it turns out he had actually mouthed the words “elephant juice.” (Try it, it works!).

When I realised this cruel why-would-you-do-this-to-me-but-I-still-really-like-you joke, I playfully told him off over text, while secretly thanking the heavens that I hadn’t responded to his elephant juice declaration by saying “I love you, too.” We did end up saying I love you to each other at some point and honestly, I can’t remember who said it first. But I do remember that feeling on the train. Saying “I love you” feels like a big deal. You’re putting yourself out there and making yourself vulnerable. So when is the right time?

Simple answer – the right time is when you feel like it’s the right time. There is no rush. Ideally, you should be in a steady part of your relationship. Love can be said with actions. Before you say the words, ask yourself if you’re showing your love by how you behave. Does the way your partner treats you suggest they love you?

Saying “I love you” is a way of affirming verbally a commitment that you’ve already made in your heart. You may have different expectations of each other once you’ve confessed your love and you should consider whether you’re ready to handle these expectations before you say the words.

And now, the part we’re all worried about. What if your partner doesn’t say it back? It’s worth thinking about how you will feel if this happens. It’s a great feeling when you start to realise you love somebody. My advice – don’t worry about the timing. Be sensible about when, how and where you say it, but go with your gut. Enjoy being in love. If all else fails, try mouthing “elephant juice” as a practice run before the real deal.

Dee Solebo

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