There may be nothing more beautiful, thrilling and totally nerve-wracking than telling someone you love them for the first time. Some people claim love at first sight. Others experience it as more of a slow, dawning realization.
Either way, that amazing feeling that fills your heart eventually wants to spill out in tender words. Or maybe even in a shout to your partner, the sky above you and anyone else within earshot.
But as sure as we may be about our feelings at the moment, there may be lingering doubts about saying those three little (but highly charged) words. Is it too soon? The right situation? Or do you simply have enough guts to drop the L-Bomb?
As much as we'd love to give a pat answer, love is definitely not a formula. And while scores of books have been written on the subject by supposed experts, no one can actually tell you when you're in love or when or how to say it.
That being said, there are a few questions you can ask yourself that will guide you through this mysterious process and help you decide if it's time to put the big "I love you" out there as it were. But, of course, this can only work if you are prepared to be brutally honest with yourself.
But, hey, love takes courage. So let's get down to a few very serious questions on how to tell someone you love them.
Is It Really Love?
The honeymoon stage of a romantic relationship is like a drug. Like maybe one of those most addictive drugs in the world. You're euphoric, excited and can't seem to get enough of the object of your affections. It's like you suddenly feel alive all over again, and the entire world looks like a brighter place.
And while there's nothing wrong at all with riding the endorphin high, declarations of falling in love made at this point could be spurred more by infatuation than a deep-seated love. So how do you tell the difference? Here is where a few key questions come in.
Can you be yourself, or do you feel the need to project perfection around this person?
What is that you admire about them?
What flaws do you see in the person? And could you live with them?
Do you feel safe?
Could you count on this person to be supportive in a crisis?
Does this person make you want to be your best self (but still accept you with your flaws)?
Your answers should tell whether your feelings are based more on physical attraction and the thrill of something new or a feeling that runs deeper. If it's really 'love' you're experiencing, you should feel safe to be vulnerable around this person, admire them for their finer qualities and also accept them despite their shortcomings.
Again, we have to say that there's nothing wrong with being infatuated. But if your answers indicate it's more of a crush or best friend than love, you may want to sit with your feelings a little longer before you say, "I love you."
Infatuation is amazing, wonderful and sometimes develops into love with time. But it's definitely not the whole enchilada.
What Are Your Motivations and Expectations?
And while we're still being honest with ourselves, here are a few more questions you may want to ponder before saying ILY in a new relationship.
Those three powerful words pack a lot of emotional weight, and sometimes we say them for different reasons.
For example, we may be feeling insecure in a relationship and need validation. But according to relationship expert Susan Winter, "The most powerful way to say I love you is when you're not seeking a response of validation."
In other words, if you're saying I love you because you feel insecure, are trying to force the other person's hand or just need an ego boost, it's not the time to say I love you.
Remember, real love isn't a negotiation or something that can be debated among romantic partners. It simply is. And while you may be sure about your own feelings about being soul mates, you can't control how someone will respond to your declaration.
Yes, we all want to hear, "I love you with unconditional love" in return. And not hearing those words back definitely sucks and can kill your self-esteem and, in some cases, your mental health. But if you're sure about how you feel about your true love, you have to stop worrying about what the other person's reaction will be.
All this boils down to is that it's time to tell someone you love them when you know your feelings are genuine. And here is where you have to muster some courage and take the plunge.
Winter adds, "The best way to say I love you is to simply say it. Make sure it's from the heart. And make sure you're ready to stand behind the depth of its meaning."
Most relationship experts also seem to agree that saying ILY in-person is best rather than a phone call, text or over social media. Whether it's a spontaneous declaration that you blurt out while you're watching Netflix or a more orchestrated grand gesture type of scenario (over a romantic dinner, written on a cake, on the weekend away, etc.), as long as it's sincere, it will be right.
Just remember that it's not about persuading the other person. It's simply the truth about how you feel. And if you get an "I love you" in return, fantastic.
If not, don't despair. Some people take longer to get to that point than others. And it doesn't mean the end of a relationship if you're willing to be patient and give them as much time and space they need to figure out their feelings.
Even if your person never gets there or runs away like a frightened squirrel, the ability to love really is a gift. And the object of your affections, no matter how wonderful you think they are, is not the only source of love in the universe.
The more you love, the more love comes back to you. In the end, you just have to go for it. And be thankful for your own ability to love.
How To Keep Saying I Love You
The thrill of a mutual "I love you" can put you on cloud 9. But if it's not backed up by something more, the words can ring hollow after a while.
Like all living things, a relationship needs to be cared for to keep it alive. And this is where the power of small gestures comes into play. Yes, definitely keep saying, "I love you." But also find ways to show that those words have meaning.
Learn to Say I Love You Without Words
Here are some small things that you can do to make a big difference in your love relationship.
1. Praise your partner. We all love to bask in the glow of kind words. So tell them you love how funny, smart, kind, etc. you think they are. And don't be afraid to brag about them in front of other people or your children.
2. Say thank you for all the ways they make your life easier. People love and need to be appreciated.
3. Do a chore that they normally do just because.
4. Always hug hello and good-bye. A physical gesture can sometimes say more than words.
5. Send them a cute text message for no reason at all.
6. Give them flowers when it's not their birthday or a holiday. This gesture may seem like an oldie, but it's still a goodie.
7. Watch a movie that they like, but that may not exactly be your thing.
8. Don't forget to say "please" and "thank you" just like you did at the beginning of your relationship.
9. If they hate it when you leave the cap off the toothpaste or don't put the toilet seat down, try not to do it. It may not seem like a big deal, but it shows you care.
10. Listen to them when they need an ear.
11. Don't forget to tell them how sexy you think they are.
12. Give your partner space and freedom to do the things they love.
13. Find a shared activity to do together beyond watching TV. Tennis, pottery, cooking, going to the gym, whatever. The point is to explore something new together.
14. Tell them you have their back.
15. Try to understand their feelings even when it seems hard.
16. Don't forget to flirt! It's fun!
17. Let them pick out the outfit you're going to wear when you go out.
18. Tell them you feel lucky to have them.
19. Ask them what their dreams are.
20. Watch a ridiculous rom-com together.
21. Make your partner a special meal.
22. Don't forget to pull out chairs and open doors. A little chivalry can go a long way.
23. Don't take your bad day out on them. Instead, ask for a hug.
24. Lights candles just because.
25. Plan a special date.
26. Massage their shoulders when they've had a long day.
27. Admit they're right sometimes.
28. Say you're sorry when it's appropriate.
29. Laugh and be goofy together.
30. Hold hands.
31. Sneak a love note into their lunch.
32. Play hooky together once in a while.
33. Go for a walk together.
34. Make a playlist of your favorite songs and play it on a road trip.
35. Tell them how happy they make you.
36. Write them a love letter.
37. Make up ridiculous pet names for each other.
38. Run them a bath.
39. Be kind to the people they love.
40. Always kiss them goodnight.
A Few of Our Favorite Love Quotes
Now that you know how the small things can remind a person how much you love them, here are some of our favorite love quotes. Because we just love talking about love, and they will come in handy if you're not the best at writing love letters.
"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I'm with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out. -Elizabeth Barrett Browning
"I saw that you were perfect, so I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect, and I loved you even more." -Angelita Lim
"I swear that I couldn't love you more than I do right now, and yet I know I will tomorrow." -Leo Christopher.
"Love is the condition in which another person's happiness is essential to your own." -Robert A. Heinlein
"You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back." -Barbara De Angelis
"Love is a great master. It teaches us to be what we never were." -Moliere
"Love is more than a noun — it is a verb; love is more than a feeling — it is caring, sharing, helping, sacrificing." - William Arthur Ward
"Love is sharing your popcorn together." -Charles Schultz
"A loving heart is the truest wisdom." -Charles Dickens
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach. " -Elizabeth Barrett Browning
"Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. " -Zora Neal Hurston
"There is only one happiness in this life. To love and to be loved." -George Sand
"Love does not dominate. It cultivates." -Goethe
"I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart. -E.E. Cummings
"It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them." -Agatha Christie
"The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing." -Blaise Pascal
"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." -Charles Schultz
"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." -Rumi
"You are my sun, my moon and all my stars." -E.E. Cummings
"Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time." -Maya Angelou
"We are most alive when we're in love." -John Updike
May You All Live Lovingly Ever After
Well, lovers of love, this article has come to a close. And though no one can really explain the mystery of this grand force, you know when it's in your heart. So be bold, keep loving and always be glad when you have the privilege to have a loved one in your life.
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