When you find someone who makes your heart sing, it’s normal to want to share that with the world—particularly when the person is your soulmate. But before you utter those three magical words, it’s a good idea to know whether your partner feels the same way.
There are plenty of signs to look for, but a common one is the hesitation to say “I love you” back. Some people are reluctant to express their feelings, especially if they’ve been hurt in the past or come from a family where saying those words was taboo. Others simply may not be ready to commit, or they might be weighing the pros and cons of their relationship before saying those special words.
Regardless of the reason, it can be frustrating to feel like you’re not getting a straight answer. But if you wait patiently, they might eventually give you that green light to say it all.
In some cases, though, the hesitation to say those magical three words can also be a red flag. It could indicate that they don’t love you the same way. “If you’re both committed to each other and the future of your relationship, there’s no need to hold off from telling them how you feel,” says Jenn Mann, a psychotherapist, dating coach, and host of VH1’s Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn and The Relationship Fix. However, if they’re still waiting for a commitment that you’re not prepared to offer, you might need to reconsider your options for the future of your relationship.
A more subtle red flag is the person saying “love you” more often than they normally would, or using those three special words to make you jealous by telling your mutual friends and family that they’re in love with you. It can be a sign that they’re not fully committed to you or the relationship, and they’re playing with your emotions.
There’s also the possibility that they’re using it as a trial balloon. The phrase is a safe, low-risk way of testing the waters, and it gives them plausible deniability. “If they get a negative reaction, it allows them to turn the tables on you,” writes Adeline Breon in The Post. “They can tell you they just said it to test the water—and then you can decide if it’s worth taking it further.”
It’s important to remember that the word “love” is a complex one, and it means something different to everyone who uses it. It can be about caring for someone deeply and unconditionally, or it can be about the things that thrill us in life, such as hot sex or a beautiful vacation. But the truth is that love often takes us into the dungeons of reality and builds connection, presence, and trust over time.
When you’re in love, it should bring out the best version of you and challenge you to be better. It can be a rollercoaster, and there are likely going to be days or weeks when you’re not feeling the mushy-gushy feelings as strongly. But if you’re committed to the person, it will all be worth it in the end.