If you're looking to know the best time to tell someone "I love you" ... I honestly have no idea. I have some friends who have some specific timelines— like, "It should happen around the six-month mark" or "Definitely not before three months." Some of them even consider it a dealbreaker if someone hasn't said "I love you" by a certain point. Which I strongly disagree with, because some people find it harder to vocalize than others. I'm really open with saying it to my friends and family — it baffles my British friends that nearly all of my phone calls with anyone end with "I love you, bye!" But I find it a lot more loaded in a relationship. Obviously, in that case, it means a different kind of love. So I don't have a timeline on when people should say it. Every couple is different.
But. Though the time doesn't matter, experience does. It's more about the things you've been through together, or how much you've gotten to know each other. Also, because these words can mean a lot to some people (well, most people), it's important that you realize the impact of what you're saying before you do it. All of that is way more important than saying it by a certain time.
So here are six things you should do as a couple before telling someone "I love you." Because you've never known a person until you've navigated a foreign subway system with them.
1. Get Out Of Bed
Not literally. Well, sort of literally. We all know that lust, love, and infatuation can all be sort of tangled up, especially in the early stages of a relationship. You are having ALL THE FEELS. Just make sure that you know which feels are which. If most of your time is spent between the sheets, that doesn't mean you don't love the person — it just means that you're probably not sure of it yet.
2. Take A Trip
I'm sorry, I just don't believe you can be sure if you love someone until after you spend a three-hour layover in a tiny middle-of-nowhere airport with them, with travel dehydration and grumpiness. It's an important test.
3. Spend Some Quality Time With The Friends And Family
You don't have to be besties with your significant other's friends, and you certainly shouldn't hold their family against them. But seeing the people who are closest to them — how they treat them, how they deal with stress — is important. It shows a lot about a person, and it's one of the only ways to really know them before you jump in the with L word. I once was absolutely infatuated with a guy. He was amazing to be around and amazing to me, but I saw that he was kind of a sh*tty friend, and it was a big eye-opener. Make sure you're seeing them from all angles.
4. Take Stock Of Where You Are
The L word means different things to different people, and I've said before that some of us find it easier to act on than to say, which I also think is fine. But for most people, it's a massive deal. So you need to take a quick check of what it means to you, what you actually mean by it, and how it's going to be heard. It can be a lovely, amazing thing you share. But think about where you are as a couple. If you say it really quickly, or at a strange time, it may put the other person in an difficult position.
5. Pick Your Timing
It's not a proposal, and I'm not saying you should actually pick a special restaurant or time or anything. Just make sure it's thought out, rather than blurt it out. It'll make sure that you both know you mean it, rather than the dreaded "dropping it into sex and then debating whether it counts" thing. True story: Someone once said to my friend "I love you so bad" in the middle of sex. He had never said it before. The consensus was it 1) didn't count and 2) was ridiculous. Don't be that guy.
6. Mean It
It may seem obvious, but some people get so swept away that they say it flippantly. Or worse, they say it because someone said it to them, and they're too awkward or scared or polite not to say it back. It is so much better to just not say it at all than to say it for the wrong reason. Yes, saying it might make things warm and fuzzy (or at least less uncomfortable) in the short term, but in the long term, it'll do a lot of harm. Also, if you want it to be special, then it will be all the more special if you use it sparingly, and when you mean it.
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