Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

When Did You Say “I Love You”?

I love you

This morning’s column got me wondering about when people say “I love you” in relationships, and especially when they say it versus when they feel it. If I remember right, Drew and I said “I love you” after about eight months together, which seems like a long time to me, but we were long-distance and so our relationship was moving a little more slowly than if we were seeing each other several times a week like most couples probably do. What about you? If you’re in a relationship now where you’ve said “I love you,” how long did you wait after you started feeling it? What about in past relationships? And would you agree with my argument in this morning’s column that, if you aren’t feeling it at ten months in (regardless of whether you’re saying it), then you probably won’t ever feel it?

35 comments… add one
  • Lianne August 20, 2015, 1:03 pm

    We said it pretty quickly, about 3 months in. However, we had known each other for years prior to starting to date. I know exactly when I felt it, and it was a week before I said it. My roommate at the time and I hosted a housewarming party and he brought flowers, not only for me, but for her, as well. I knew then that this considerate guy was the one for me.

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  • Ika August 20, 2015, 1:07 pm

    One year in. It feels like such along time now, but I wanted to make sure I was sure. And I was young (23!) I think I probably started to feel it a few months before, I can’t really remember now. It was so long ago.
    He took longer, like at 1.5 yrs, when we were already living together. But, when I said “took you long enough” he said he already HAD said it.

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  • Kate August 20, 2015, 1:07 pm

    Six months but I think we started feeling it at 4 months or a little sooner?

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  • snoopy128 August 20, 2015, 1:12 pm

    4 months, but I was drunk when I said and would have waited a bit longer if it hadn’t come out that night. We had also known each other for 3 years prior.

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  • K August 20, 2015, 1:28 pm

    5 months. I first felt it around 3 months. I waited for him to say it first.

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  • MissDre August 20, 2015, 1:29 pm

    With my ex, I said it after one year. It took him 3 years to say it. Which actually wasn’t an issue for me. Because before things started going downhill, he actually SHOWED me in a lot of ways that he loved me (i.e. getting up early to scrape the ice off my car, dropping everything to come change my tire in the rain when I was stranded on the side of the road, always bringing me a coffee on his way home from night shift when I was just getting up, etc…). While it IS important to me to say the words, I previously had a bf who would say it all the damn time but was never there for me when I needed him.
    Wendy wrote an article once about how the most important thing you can do as a friend is SHOW UP. And I feel the same way about relationships. I’d rather have a boyfriend who shows up when I need him than one who talks big and does nothing (of course, it would be lovely to find someone who can show up AND say “I love you”.)

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  • Moneypenny August 20, 2015, 1:33 pm

    My ex said it to me 1 year-4 months in. In the same conversation as telling me he didn’t think things were working out. When I asked him why he never said it sooner, he said he said he didn’t know and he was afraid of rushing things. (I had felt like saying it much sooner, but hadn’t.) He’s the only one who’s ever said it to me romantically. Womp womp.

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    • Ika August 20, 2015, 2:48 pm

      You know how much better off you are for it NOT having worked out though!!!

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      • Moneypenny August 20, 2015, 5:10 pm

        Yup, that’s totally true! 🙂
        Thanks, Ika!

  • AllegroFox August 20, 2015, 1:39 pm

    Really early – at about six weeks. We’d met online, chatted for about a week when he first asked me out, and then dated *intensively* for about a month (seeing each other a couple times a week as well as most weekends, so A LOT of dates).
    He went overseas for two weeks, and what I *expected* to feel when he left was “well, that was a fun month, I guess we’ll lose touch now,” but what happened instead was that I missed him like crazy, and he missed me (and told me so) and about a week into his trip I felt like I wanted to say ‘I love you’. I made myself wait until he got back, both to make sure I still felt it when he was around, and because I felt something like that should be said in person. When I did say it, he responded with “Oh thank God, I’ve wanted to say it to you, but it sounded crazy and I was afraid it was too soon!” And then he said it back.

    It sounds nuts when I write it out like that, but it’s been five years so I guess it worked? 😛

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  • Ale August 20, 2015, 1:47 pm

    The first time we were fighting about something I said “I love you, but blah blah”. (I don’t even remember what we were talking about). He inmediately dropped the fight and said “You love me?” I said yes. He said “I love you too, I’ve been wanting to say it for weeks”. So, I think he felt it first, but I officially said it first. He was afraid of rejection, I guess. This was like two months into the relationship.

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  • for_cutie August 20, 2015, 1:50 pm

    I cannot remember when my husband and I first said it, or who said it first. We were friends for 4 years before dating so the timeline is a blur. I can say that in all of my past LTRs we said it pretty soon. I feel like it was used against me as a reason to stay in a bad relationship… “but I love you.” Also, looking back I know that hearing it from someone early accelerated my feels and commitment to them. It definitely played on my insecurities. I think sometimes “I love you” can be used in a manipulative way so I agree with @MissDre that actions are also a big part of the expression.

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  • Cherlyn August 20, 2015, 1:53 pm

    These are interesting questions. I would say that it really depends.

    In some of my past relationships, it was as early as 1 month. Others, 6 months. My take is that you feel differently with different partners. Some are more in sync with you, while others are not so much, though you see their potential.

    Yes, 10 months is about enough time to fall in love. In fact, 10 months is the exact time one of my exes took to break up with me because he said that he loved me but just wasn’t “in love” with me. Funny how that works. A happy twist; we’re really good friends now. =)

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  • suzyinthesky August 20, 2015, 2:07 pm

    We said it before we even went on our first date, in fact our deciding to date went something like this:
    him: I’m in love with you!
    me: I’m in love with you too!
    *kissing and making a date for the upcoming Friday.*

    …but then we didn’t say “I love you” again until after a few months. I don’t know, it just felt wrong to say it in a brand new relationship. Although I know we both felt it.
    (We did say (cringe) “I heart you” a lot. ha ha ha ha!)

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  • girltuesday August 20, 2015, 2:23 pm

    About 5-6 months in. I felt it around 3 months. He said it first.

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  • Kay August 20, 2015, 2:33 pm

    It was nine months for me and my boyfriend. He said it first and I had to get him to repeat it because I wasn’t sure I had heard him right, haha. In hindsight he had been saying things like “I love spending time with you” and being super affectionate so I probably should have known it was coming. I had been feeling it for a month or so but hadn’t wanted to put pressure on him to say it before he was ready.
    I wasn’t aware this was an unusually long time until I told my best friend and she seemed surprised we had waited so long. But If I could tell that the guy I was dating genuinely liked me and I was happy in the relationship, I would probably give it a year or so. But I’m still in my 20s so I’m not feeling much pressure to get to the ‘next level’ yet.

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  • g August 20, 2015, 2:42 pm

    7 months… he nervously delivered a prepared-sounding speech as a lead-in… he’s cute. i had been trying not to say it for the previous 2 months or so, because i know he is a cautious, slow person & didn’t want to pressure him. we also knew each other for years before we started dating.

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  • Tinywormhole August 20, 2015, 2:46 pm

    It took us 9 months and it was one of the most special moments of my life, just because of the place and time, and the fact that we’d moved into the relationship slowly after having known each other for years. I think I felt it several months before that.
    It’s 7 years later and we are married and are very happy. Though we express our love in nonverbal ways on a daily basis, we don’t say I love you to each other much. Despite the profound moment it was the first time we said it, I’ve never been much a fan of saying it to people in my life, due to some childhood baggage (specifically being berated by a verbally abusive stepparent who made a big deal about how frequently I said it to my other parent.). I don’t feel like the people in my life who I really love, who I am there for all the time, need the constant verbal reminder, and similarly I don’t need it from them because it goes without saying that the love is there.

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  • Diablo August 20, 2015, 2:48 pm

    The last time I told someone (the first time) was in the late 1980s. Was brokenhearted from a bad relationship. Wasn’t going to be getting into any relationship, not me. Totally casual. Fun for fun’s sake. FWB, NSA, AOK. Five weeks in. Lying in bed after naughty time. Stormy hot summer night. Rachmaninov. Rain on the windowpane. I knew in that moment that I was a goner, and likely an emotional imbecile. I said it first. Luckily, it was returned. For those who have read my life on DW, you know it worked out OK.

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  • KMJ August 20, 2015, 3:10 pm

    around 2-3 months after starting to date. thought I felt it a little sooner but was scared to admit it even to myself because it was not in my plans after being hurt in a prior relationship. glad I let it happen though!

    yes, I agree if I didn’t feel it by 10 months I would think it’s not going to happen.

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  • eelliinnss August 20, 2015, 3:12 pm

    My ex made a point in the first couple of months to tell me he did not say “I love you” lightly and that it would probably take him quite a while to get there. With his first girlfriend, he said it to her after over a year and then freaked out and took it back! Yikes. He ended up saying it at about 6 months and I remember feeling kind of let down but couldn’t explain why.
    My boyfriend now said it about 4 or 5 months in, but admitted he’d been feeling it for a few months before then (so had I, we’d been friends for 6 years before getting together so it wasn’t really that fast). We were laying in bed in the morning and he just said “I’m so in love with you” and it was pretty much the best.

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  • Addie Pray August 20, 2015, 3:13 pm

    I love reading these comments about your first L bombs. So sweet!

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  • Astronomer August 20, 2015, 3:24 pm

    Third date. Totally not ashamed. We were walking back to my place from the bar, and he blurted it out like a crazy person. It was the best, and of course I said it back because yep, love. We got married three months later.

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  • Hobbesnb August 20, 2015, 3:34 pm

    We took our time. He said it first, around 10 months, but I had been wanting to but holding out for a couple of months, due to the (stupid and antiquated, yes yes) canard that the man should say it first.

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  • muchachaenlaventana August 20, 2015, 3:47 pm

    We had two first times because we broke up and got back together. The first time was at about 3 or so months of us dating but we hadn’t even had an official talk yet about our status and it was too soon, so he told me and I didn’t respond back with I love you for over a month, which was terrible for both of us. We broke up like 2 months after I said it.
    When we got back together it was slow, we became really great friends who were hooking up for awhile and in that time I seriously had been feeling a lot different about him, finally after we had been hanging out for about five months, it was a few days after Christmas and we were in this big ski lodge whispering because lots of people were sleeping around us and he just was like I love you so much and I said it back immediately and it just felt so much better and so right and I had no hesitation and I think that was really important. We had both been feeling it for awhile before but wanted to make sure before saying it, so the same thing didn’t happen. It was very romantic and lovely. It was the only time in my life when someone told me they loved me I felt I could say it back immediately with 0 hesitation.
    The other two guys who have said I love you to me, always first, always way before I am ready. The first one I waited a bit to say it back, the second I said it right away and regretted it and really wanted to take it back. Never did, but I also never really loved him. My sexy fling living abroad said it to me after like 1 date ha but it was in a rather passionate moment and was quite perfect at that time.
    I agree that if you aren’t feeling it, maybe by a year– if you haven’t said it its just not going to happen. I know for me personally, I love you and saying that frequently is a huge deal- in my family we say it before and after every phone call, in text messages, all the time. So not hearing that from someone would be really hard. IDK though as I have never dated someone longer than 3 months and not heard it so not sure what I would do in that actual situation.

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  • Miel August 20, 2015, 4:18 pm

    We said it 6 days after meeting for the first time. We met abroad and we were about to go back to our home countries so it was a matter of “we either say it now and in person, or later over Skype” and I think it felt better to say it in person for the first time.
    I knew my boyfriend was special maybe 20 hours after we first met. It’s hard for me to say when I started “feeling love” for him because it was so great and exciting in the beginning and it just became stronger with time. I do believe that saying it this early was the best thing for us, because once we started our long distance relationship, we were already honest and very open about how we felt. It was an ice-breaker of some sort. Our feelings did change with time as we got to know each other, but I still think that at every moment we said and meant “I love you”. It’s just that the definition evolved with time.

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  • anonymousse August 20, 2015, 5:10 pm

    I think I blurted it out first either drunkenly or probably during sex, at least 6-8 months in a passionate, electric FWB situation. Probably 6-8 months later I told him we either needed to be monogamous or I needed to MOA, and he took a little time and told me he loved me and didn’t want to lose me and asked me to move in!
    Three short years later, we are married with 1 1/2 littles and I couldn’t be happier.

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  • alice August 20, 2015, 9:11 pm

    I love all these stories!

    I blurted it out in the aisle of a grocery store, three months into dating. He had come back with the right soda for a party my parent’s were throwing, and it just sort of came out. What can I say, I’m a sucker for IBC root beer. I freaked out that it was too soon, but he said it back and revealed that he’d been trying to figure out the right moment to say it. Whoops.

    Been together five years, stupidly happy.

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  • Portia August 20, 2015, 11:21 pm

    6 months. I felt it at about 3 or 4 months, but then got nervous about saying anything. He came back from a family vacation around then, the longest we had been apart in that time, and his whole energy about the relationship was different and I could tell there was a shift in his thinking about us. We had a weekend that I called the “relationship summit” about where things were going. I said it then, and he said it back. It was magic. Still is.
    In about an hour it’ll be 10 years from our first kiss, and the last time this’ll serve as our anniversary. It’s a little bittersweet, but it’ll be fun to have a new one, I think. I still can’t believe I got so lucky. OK, time to stop being mushy…

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  • Wendy (not Wendy) August 21, 2015, 1:38 am

    I had no idea most people waited so long (or didn’t feel it for so long). My current BF said it after about two days (I waited a week to say it back, though I don’t know that I was really ready so much as it was kind of awkward; it might have taken me another whole week to really feel it). My BF before that would sometimes say it when he was drunk, but never sober; in both conditions, he would sometimes tell me he didn’t love me the way I loved him, despite me not saying it (very LDR of three years; I did once say, early on, that I felt like I wanted to say I loved him but I knew it wasn’t time yet). I told my eventual/now-ex spouse after a couple of weeks that I loved her but was trying to explain that I meant I cared about her, not that I was IN LOVE, but she didn’t get it, said “I love you too”, and I didn’t realize we were saying two different things for a few months.

    I’m sure the people who wait months and months think I can’t know after a few weeks… but I loved my spouse for eight years, have now been with my current BF for six months; I don’t feel like I was wrong or didn’t know what I was talking about when I said it early, though yes, I love my BF more all the time. Such a hard thing to define. I do think my fairly conservative upbringing/romantic nature means I would feel weird about having a monogamous sexual relationship with someone I didn’t love, so I think I’m probably more pushy to myself that way, in defining it earlier.

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  • mrmidtwenties August 21, 2015, 7:50 am

    My girlfriend said it to me after about 6 months of dating. She said it wile we were having sex. I think we had both been wanting to say it for awhile and it just came out. I think it has turned out splendidly so far.

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  • Museum_Nerd August 21, 2015, 8:36 am

    I’ve had two serious long term relationships before my current one, both lasting two years and I felt in love with them and said it at about 3 months (though they said it first). But with my fiance, we immediately knew and told each other after 2 weeks!

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  • keyblade August 21, 2015, 8:42 am

    We said it early. We said something like “I think that I love you” and “I think I’m in love with you too”. We both felt it, but it seemed too early to know for sure. After about three months I remember having absolute conviction.

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  • Alex August 21, 2015, 11:03 am

    He said it after a year and two months. I had already said it a few times, so he knew, but I didn’t pressure him or really worry about it. His actions really did speak towards his feelings so I knew he felt it, but he’s not a verbal person in terms of feelings. Either way, one night in the middle of some hanky panky he said it and has been saying it ever since.

    My family says I love you all the time whereas his does not say it at all, so I think my family is starting to wear him down 😉

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  • Becky August 25, 2015, 8:42 am

    Is love at first sight a real thing? I think so. We were committed after 1 week of dating and he said I love you first, I think after 3 weeks. I said it back and meant it. Over a year later and we are still crazy in love. Ps. We are older, both of us late 30s. When you know, you just know.

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