There is never a right or wrong time to say “I love you” to someone for the first time.
Sure, you can play it safe and wait until the other person says it first, or you can go with the old adage I typically like to suggest, which is to only say “I love you” when you can no longer actively stop yourself from doing so.
But there’s plenty of reason so many people completely bug out when it comes to deciding whether the time is ripe to say those three little words.
And of course, it isn’t that the act of saying them is so challenging. It’s everything that saying “I love you” represents.
Sure, it’s a sweet statement, but it’s also a promise — to be invested in another person, to put their needs above your own, to make the choice every single morning to be in love with that person and to treat them with the love and respect that they deserve.
After all, the act of loving someone is no easy feat, and while saying “I love you” is romantic as all get out, it’s not something you should say just because your heart and head are giddy about the prospect of a future with someone new and exciting.
I think in many ways there are certain things you have to know about your partner before you start saying I love you.
If you start using these three little words too early, you run the risk of zapping them of all importance.
It’s super easy to say you love someone you think is hot but who you don’t know very well, but how are you going to feel about them once you get to know their dark side?
Don’t get me wrong. When you’re really and truly in love, you shouldn’t hesitate for even a moment to shout it from the rooftops!
But before you do, here’s a list of 11 things you definitely need to know about someone before you actually say, “I love you.”
1. The color of their eyes.
This might sound silly, but when we’re freshly falling in love, much of what we think and feel falls into the “silly” box.
You might be under the spell of his penis, but when it comes to love there’s must be more to it than that. You need to know at least the basic essentials about a person before your lust can be believed to have completed its transformation into love.
2. How many brothers and/or sisters they have.
I know it might sound hokey, but I sincerely think that birth order plays an important part in how we each turn out.
Are you dating the eldest? The baby of the family? A middle or an only child? If you don’t know, pump the brakes a second and go your boo to break out the family albums.
3. What their relationship with their parents is like.
While I’m not saying that everyone out these is guaranteed to mimic their relationships with their parents in their romantic relationships, stranger things have happened.
If a guy can’t communicate effectively with the people who spat him out into this world, you might want to protect your heart a little bit while taking some time to learn more about how that came to be and how he has or has not worked through his own feelings about it.
4. Whether or not they are a secret (or not-so-secret) ax murderer.
We’ve all got secrets. For some of us, it’s that we never wear underwear. For others… it’s that we’ve killed multiple times in the past and we might just kill again.
Yes, I’m kidding.
But also, I am not kidding even one little bit.
5. The actual status of your relationship.
It’s all well and good that you feel overwhelmed by the need to tell this person how you feel about them, but before you do, figure this one out.
Are you actually together or is this just a hookup? Is it a serious relationship with long-term potential? Did you talk about keeping it casual? Is he your boyfriend or is she your girlfriend? Does he or she know that?
Knowing is, after all, half of the battle.
6. Whether or not they have someone else in their life.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it can certainly be complicated and it’s definitely important. He might technically be single, but does he have an ex he still talks to regularly? A former flame she still pines for? An overbearing mother?
Know the women in your man’s life before you utter those three little words. Trust.
7. Whether they are ready to hear those words from you.
Sometimes we date lovely, charming people who just plain aren’t ready to receive love. That may sounds like some hippie bull, and maybe it is, but it’s also the truth.
Sometimes people simply aren’t prepared to be in a relationship with someone who adores them, or at least not at this time. That’s non one’s fault, but it is definitely something to be aware of.
8. Where you fall on their list of priorities.
Love isn’t just something you say or something you feel. It’s something you chose to do every single day of the week.
A person you love becomes a huge part of your life and likewise, your should become a huge part of theirs, so make sure you’re on top of each other’s list of priorities before taking this big step.
9. What makes them laugh.
Romance, candles, and commitment are all well and good, but building a loving, healthy relationship is about the small stuff too. Sure, he gives you crazy intense orgasms on the regular, but can he make you laugh?
If the two of you can’t or don’t share belly laughs together fairly often, you might want to think twice before spilling the beans. You know, the love beans.
10. The status of your relationship with yourself.
It’s a cliche, but a cliche for a reason. In order to be in a healthy relationship with another human person you need to in a healthy relationship with yourself.
Look inward and examine your deepest emotions, along with your motivations for feeling the love you do for this particular person, before you let your lips start flapping.
11. Whether or not they are emotionally available to receive and return your love.
Your sweetie may be physically present fairly often, but is their heart and soul connecting as well, or are they off wandering in some other place?
You may very well be this person’s soulmate, but if they can’t or won’t disconnect from past relationships or emotional ties that separate a part of themselves from you, save your “I love you’s” for someone who will be there with and for you with every single fiber of their being.
Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She’s an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.