Dating and Relationship Advice

Those three little words… you know the ones I mean. They’re pretty innocuous on their own, and even commonplace when you apply two of them to everyday things. “I love pizza!” “I love that show!” “I love this song!”

But for some reason, once you add that “you” into the mix, things get intense. And even a little scary—especially if you say it at the wrong time in a romantic relationship.

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

Honestly, it depends. It depends on you and whether or not that phase is seriously significant to you. It also depends on your relationship, since some progress quickly and others have a slow burn. Even the dating experts can’t say exactly when you should say “I love you” —some say wait at least six months, others three, and still more won’t even give an estimate.

But there are two things that should be true before you say those three words.

One, you must be prepared for the other person to not say it back. They may not feel the same way yet, or they just aren't ready to take that step in the relationship. And two, you need to be sure you are actually in love. Duh, right? Well, maybe not so much. How do you know you’re in love?

There is no straight answer. But there are a few signs that you’re in love and are ready to shout it from the rooftops—or at least tell your SO how you feel.

1) You Want To Show Them Off

You want other people in your life to know how amazing your partner is. You feel the urge to show them off to your friends and family because you know you want this person to be a significant part of your life in the future.

2) You Want The Best For Them

You don't just care about the other person because they make you feel good. You care about them because you love them and want them to be happy, regardless of the pleasure they can contribute to your life.

3) They Make You Happy

You smile when you're around them, or even when you're just thinking of them. You want to tell them "I love you" because that's how you feel about them, not because you're supposed to say it at this moment in the relationship.

4) You Accept One Another As Is

You don't want to change who they are, and you don't regard their personality traits as a series of pluses and minuses. You see and love the other person in their entirety—flaws and all.

5) You’re Confident in the Relationship

You trust your SO completely. You don't feel worried that they’ll jump ship if things get hard or you do something wrong. You feel safe and comfortable in the relationship. You know that they can trust you as well, because you're committed to keeping them in your life.

Knowing when it’s time to say “I love you” doesn’t depend on how much time has passed in the relationship. What really matters is that you know in your heart that what you feel is more than simple infatuation.

There’s really only one question that needs to be answered if you want to know when it’s time to let those little words fly: what does your heart want you to do?