When to say I love you for the first time?
When to say I love you for the first time? You’re been dating someone for a while, someone who has more or less turned your world upside down: everything suddenly seems brighter and clearer to you, you can not stop smiling, you can not stop thinking about the new guy in your life and you do not want this hovering over the clouds to stop. It seems to you more than just a flick or a short-term connection. It is your favorite pastime and the more you spend with it the more you discover that all your thoughts and feelings point to one clear thing: it is love. The following text refers to couples with heterosexual orientation only, although it is clear that there is a wide range of marital systems with different sexual orientations and gender identities.
Is it time to say “I love you”?
Why hesitate at all? In fact, there is a risk involved and this is true for both men and women. While debating whether to declare our love usually we run in our minds different scenarios and ask ourselves how the other person will react? What will he answer? Will he return the same coin and say “I love you too”? Or maybe he will answer “I’m not there yet” or worse, just say “thank you”?
For the most part we do not already talk on the first date about commitment or exclusivity in the relationship, and anyone who wants to initiate such a conversation may be in a very vulnerable place. Moreover, the statement “I love you” can be an important turning point in the progress of a romantic relationship.
It may create greater intimacy and allow us to jointly imagine the future together. However, such a statement can also be a breaking point or barrier to a relationship. In case one party expresses love but the other party does not feel that way yet, or is only interested in a superficial relationship, emphasizing the difference in feelings may provoke a conversation that will bring the relationship to an end.
So who initiates first? And when?
Believe it or not, men are the ones who tend to say “I love you” first. While it is commonly thought that women are more likely to say these words, research evidence shows that men do it first and in fact by a rather surprising margin: men confess three times more than women about their love.
Moreover, men report that they understand and acknowledge their feelings of love for their partners earlier than women. So while women attest to the fact that it takes them a few months, men report that within just a few weeks they usually realize it. Specifically, some evidence shows that men begin to ponder their declaration of love 42 days earlier than women.
Although men may say the words “I love you” out loud more often, cross-cultural studies show that women are more emotionally invested in their romantic relationships than men, especially in more gender-equal societies. Hence the question: when women and men say “I love you”, do they mean the same thing?
The connection between sex and word timing: I love you
Relationship experts have sought to explore couples’ most basic intentions by looking at the timing of saying “I love you” in relation to the timing of their sexual activity. This, thinking that it is a pretty convincing source for identifying their true intentions in relation to the relationship, i.e. how much they express sincerity and seriousness towards each other. From an evolutionary point of view it is more dangerous for women than men to engage in sex (since their investment in raising a child is greater). Therefore, women tend to take on the role of “gatekeepers,” while men tend to engage in sex more actively.
From a purely evolutionary perspective, assuming that the timing of the words “I love you” and participation in sexual activity are related, a declaration of love by a man may be a strategic tactic for initiating sexual contact. That is, evolutionarily, men may use the confession of love to imply a long-term commitment that will lead to sex. Given the evolutionary angle, women tend to be more skeptical about early confessions of love and interpret them as non-serious attempts to gain sexual access to them. Of course in modern society, where contraception allows women to manage the chance of getting pregnant, the use of a declaration of love as a strategy for initiating sex can be used by both sexes.
That is, when a confession of love comes before sexual intercourse has taken place, it may be used by the confessor to lead to sex. However, when the statement “I love you” is said after having sex, it is considered honest. This is consistent with the finding that women were found to be happier in response to emotion statements that came after sex compared to statements that came before it. Similarly, many men were found to be happy when women expressed their feelings before having sex, as they interpret the confession of love as a sign that sex is approaching and is on the horizon.
So what should you do?
The best time to say “I love you” is simply related to the question – what would you like from your relationship. The present study shows that when men and women are interested in each other and are in a long-term relationship, they are probably happy to receive declarations of love even before having sex, but feel happier to receive the three coveted words after sex.
As you begin to understand that the emotion you are experiencing towards your spouse is love and you are debating whether to share it with the other party or not, it seems appropriate to first assess whether you both agree on the meaning of the words ‘I love you’. Do you put the sexual, emotional, or both aspects at the center of your relationship? The more you understand what motivates you and what your relationship goals are, the more you will be able to assess first what the impact of those words will be on your relationship.