Are You Ready To Say “I Love You”?

Updated March 22, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Is it love or something else?

Saying "I love you" can be a major step in any relationship. Knowing when to say it might be a challenge, though. Before you get caught up in trying to find the right moment to put your heart on your sleeve, make sure you are ready to do so. Here are five signs that you are ready to say "I love you" and five signs that you should wait.

Signs you are ready to say "I love you"

Your partner means the world to you. You want to spend your future together. These are just some of the clues signaling that you are ready. But there may be more to think about. To determine if the time is right, consider whether the following signs apply to the relationship:

It feels natural

Perhaps the words "I love you" have been on the tip of your tongue for a while now. If it seems like a natural thing to say to your new partner, then it may be time. You might find yourself holding the words back when you get off the phone or the two of you part ways. If it feels natural, consider following your instincts.   

Fear does not talk you out of it

When you first realized you loved your partner, you may have felt a rush of emotions. The happiness, excitement, and fulfillment may have been overwhelming, but anxiety could have topped the list too. If you can face the fear head-on, you might be ready to say "I love you". Perhaps the only way to move your relationship forward is by putting everything on the line.

You can accept the consequences

Getty / Maskot

If you say something like, "I'll love you forever", usually one of two things happens: Either your partner, overcome with joy, echoes your feelings and proclaims, "I love you too", or they become overwhelmed and call things off. When someone mentions love, it may mean they want to see how far the relationship can go. For many couples, this could mean living together, including marriage and possibly children.

If your partner is on board, they may want to see the relationship out too. But, if they do not see you in the picture long-term, the sudden pressure to get on your level could lead to cold feet. If you are ready to accept that your words could lead to a long life together or a breakup, you might be ready to make your feelings known. 

No one else can take their place

Chances are, if you are entertaining feelings of love, your significant other holds a special place in your heart. If you consider your partner your best friend, or if your daydreams about the future always include them, you might be ready to speak up. Focusing on how much they mean to you may be an easy way to start the conversation. Consider saying, "I love you because there is no one else like you in my life". These simple words could be the key to unlocking your future together.

You are teammates

If you can look at your significant other and see the person you want to tackle life's problems with, you may have found someone special. More importantly, if respect and communication come easily in your relationship, you may have all the makings of long-term success. Teammates work together toward a common goal, and the same can be said of two people in love. If both parties value one another and want the same things, you are in solid "I love you" territory.

Signs you are not ready to say "I love you"

Saying "I love you" too early in a relationship can have disastrous consequences. You may not want premature feelings of love to turn into pleads like, "I still love you; please give me another chance to show it" if the relationship turns rocky. Before you speak too soon, make sure none of these red flags apply to your feelings:

You don’t know what else to say

Two people might not always read their relationship in the same way. What one person thinks is a casual partnership, another might perceive as the real deal. There may be few things more uncomfortable than when someone looks at you unexpectedly with devotion in their eyes, and says "I love you." But you may not want to let this sentiment catch you off-guard.

Try to avoid saying "I love you" just because your significant other has said it first. Instead, use this opportunity to talk with them honestly about where you are in the relationship. If you try to return the feelings without actually feeling them in your heart, it might be hard to find true happiness with this person in the long run. Although you might not want to hurt their feelings, a relationship built on a lie might be more detrimental.

You think it will help you move on

You might want to avoid saying "I love you" simply because you think it will help you get past something difficult such as lingering feelings for an ex. For most people, saying "I love you" is the start of a new journey in their life. But if you are merely trying to ignore your feelings for someone else by pushing forward in a new relationship, it may eventually implode. 

Likewise, you might not want to say “I love you” in an effort to move past something difficult in your current relationship. This phrase can be easy to throw out when you’re feeling bad about a problem the two of you are facing like a bad fight or infidelity, for example. Keep in mind that saying "I love you" might not fix any underlying problems in a relationship. In the best-case scenario, it may act as a temporary band-aid.

Everyone else likes them

Perhaps your partner seems like a good match with your family, or perhaps your friends think they are amazing. This may be the ideal scenario for any relationship, except the one where you do not feel the same way. Consider that the biggest fan of your significant other should be you. You might not want to get caught up in the possibility that everyone else sees something that you are missing, or that your feelings will get stronger with time. If you cannot find a solid reason to say "I love you" that is all your own, you may want to take a step back before you break someone's heart.

You do not want to let them down

If you are particularly good at reading others, you might be able to tell exactly when your partner expects your relationship to move forward. They might drop hints, say things that make you feel obligated to take the next step, or compare your relationship to the relationships of their friends.

Try to avoid letting their expectations cloud your true feelings. If they are trying to push you faster than you are comfortable with, consider speaking up or parting ways. Letting someone  else guilt you into a relationship you are not ready for may not be the best idea.  You could be left playing emotional catch-up for years to come.

You want to move to the next step

Today's relationships may face significant pressure. It is not uncommon for couples to feel forced to move faster than they are ready for, physically or emotionally. But you can take steps to get to know one another better without saying "I love you" before you’re ready. You might even be surprised to learn that your significant other wants to take things slow as well. 

This is where communication in a relationship may be key. It might be important to be vocal about your real feelings, especially if it seems like you are at a point where most other people say "I love you". Love may be the foundation for all lasting relationships, but for two people who are still trying to understand exactly what they want, it is not a requirement.

Build the courage to say "I love you" in online therapy

Knowing when to say "I love you" is not always easy. But you can take comfort in knowing you are saying it for the right reasons. You never know where your relationship will go until you take the first steps. If you are looking to solve a problem in your relationship or need more advice, talk to a licensed counselor. Relationship professionals like those at Regain can help you resolve any issues you might have with your partner or any mental health challenges you may be facing.

When you’re actively dating, it can be difficult to make time for therapy, especially in person. Online counseling can help you free up your calendar for more dates with your significant other since you can conveniently attend sessions from home or anywhere you have an internet connection. This form of remote counseling is also more flexible since it can be accessed day or night. 

Researchers in the field of mental health have demonstrated the effectiveness of web-based therapy time and time again. A comprehensive meta-analysis of studies including nearly 10,000 participants found that online therapy was just as impactful as in-person counseling when used to treat various mental health conditions. 

Is it love or something else?


Many people in relationships might want to say “I love you” quickly, but consider that these words can be life-altering. You may want to be completely sure that you’re prepared to say those words and mean them. Otherwise, you could risk hurting your partner or ending up in a dead-end relationship. If you need more support through the soul-searching it requires to make such a decision, reach out to a compassionate online counselor at Regain. You’ll be glad you did. 

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