For generations, people have debated what love actually is. It’s been a popular topic for philosophers, poets, and writers. But the fact is, it’s hard to define, and it means something different to everyone who says it. Some think that love is a feeling of protection and warmth, while others believe it’s more of a commitment to a person or thing. Still, most would agree that if you say you love someone, it implies some level of commitment. That’s why you may be nervous to say those three words — especially if you’re in a long-term relationship.
Many experts suggest you should wait until your relationship is fairly established before you say “I love you.” This way, you’ll have more time to determine if you really do love the person and aren’t just infatuated with them. However, you’ll also have time to address any issues that could arise and decide whether your relationship is going in the direction you want it to go in.
But even if you’re in a happy, healthy relationship, there’s always the fear that your partner won’t feel the same way about you. What if they’re not ready to be in a committed relationship or you simply aren’t the right fit for them? This can cause a lot of anxiety, and it’s understandable.
You can help ease the tension by being honest about how you feel and setting realistic expectations. Jenn Mann, a psychotherapist and host of VH1’s Couples Therapy With Dr. Jenn, suggests gauging the temperature of your relationship before you consider saying those three words. “Check if you have a hot-and-cold pattern or if your bond is more like a slow-burning ember,” she says.
According to a study by the Abertay University, men tend to say “I love you” first, with women waiting an average of 107 days (3.5 months) before confessing their feelings. But this research doesn’t take into account non-cisgender or heterosexual relationships.
It’s important to remember that the feeling of love is only temporary. It’s the result of happy chemicals in your brain, and when those wear off, you’ll be back to being just another person in your partner’s life.
In order to maintain happiness, you need to learn to be content with the present. If you’re constantly focusing on what could be, you’ll never enjoy what you have. Instead, happy people focus on enjoying what they have right now and recognize that any future milestones are just a bonus. So next time you’re tempted to say those three magical words, try taking some deep breaths and remind yourself that this moment in your life is a gift.