When should you say 'I love you'?
The short answer is yes. But for most singles, the answer is actually no: societal notions of romance have us believe that lovers should only reveal their sentiments when they are convinced that their partner feels the same way.
Imagine you’ve met someone. You’ve fallen in love. You decide to put your heart on the line…
You: ‘I love you’
Your partner: ‘…. umm’
The stuff of nightmares, right? Yep, there’s little more terrifying than professing your love, only to be met with that heart-stopping silence.
Jumping the gun can push someone away
Of course, saying ‘I love you’ shouldn’t have to follow a timeline or stick to social rules, but the fact is that expressing your love too early on in the game can push a potential partner away. It comes down to psychology: if you tell your partner ‘I love you’ prematurely, they may doubt their own feelings for you and – despite the fact that love has a capacity to grow - chose to abandon the relationship as a result.
But what is considered ‘premature’ anyway?
How soon is too soon to say ‘I love you’?
We asked our Australian EliteSingles members when it’s OK to say ‘I love you’ to a new partner. The majority (53%) of the 700 survey respondents said 6 months was the ideal duration. Twenty-nine percent said 1 month was long enough, and 5% said they would wait as little as 1 week if it felt right! At the other end of the spectrum, 10% thought you should wait 1 year before saying ‘I love you’ and 3% thought you should wait as long as 2 years.
‘Profound love is for the long term… patience and calmness is the name of the game’
- Dr. Aaron Ben-Zeev
L is for long term
In his essay ‘In the Name of Love’ Professor of Philosophy Dr. Aaron Ben-Zeev imparts some invaluable wisdom when he says; ‘Profound love is for the long term… patience and calmness is the name of the game’. So if you’re bursting to say 'I love you' but aren’t yet sure if your partner feels the same way, consider using actions to express your love; show your partner that you love them through affection or thoughtful deeds. Dr. Ben-Zeev offers another alternative: ease gradually into saying ‘I love you’ by first starting with something like ‘I love what I see in you’.