The first time my darling friend Ryan* said "I love you" to his boyfriend was when his boyfriend was giving him a hand job beneath the high school bleachers.
"I'm SO embarrassed!" Ryan said to me as soon as the bell rang.
I slung my torn backpack over my arm and stared at him, my eyes wide with curiosity. Ryan never got embarrassed about anything. What could my darling Ryan possibly have done that was making his alabaster white cheeks look like shiny red apples?
"Um, I said I love you to Drew*!"
I rolled my eyes and sighed. The kind of condescending sigh only a teenage lesbian can make when confronted with teen gay boy hysteria. "It's only been six months, but come on. It's about time you confessed to having feelings — sober."
"I said it when he was giving me a hand job, Zara!" Drew squealed, frightening a sweet, Bible-toting freshman girl who was innocently opening up her locker.
Damn. I was only 17 years old, but I knew that getting a hand job was definitely not the time to say "I love you" for the first time to your partner.
Now that I'm a seasoned old woman, I've seen my friends shame spiral for years over saying I love you in the wrong moment.
I've done it myself, too. Here are 12 times you should never say "I love you" for the first time to your partner.
1. When you've had more than three drinks.
You will feel like you're in love after two, and have the guts to say it after three.
But you will wake up thinking, "Wait, do I love this person? Or was I just fucking wasted?"
2. When your partner has had more than three drinks.
They might not even remember it the next day, and you'll have to do it all over again.
That, or they won't be sure if you said it or if it was a dream, and they won't be sure if they said it back, and it will be a very awkward elephant in the room for the next several months.
3. After sex.
You're too vulnerable when you're naked and have just shared an intimate experience. It will be beautiful if bae says it back, but it will be heart wrenching if they don't.
Trust me, babes, I've done this. Rejection sucks. Rejection in the nude really, really, really sucks.
Rejection sucks. Rejection in the nude, really, really, really sucks.
4. When you're getting a hand job.
5. When you're getting a blow job.
6. After bae buys you a burrito, and it accidentally slips out, like "OMG, I LOVE YOU!"
And then there is that very heavy awkward silence that sits in the air. Bae will be wondering, "Do they love me?" or "Do they luv me?"
7. After a massive fight that's entirely your fault.
It's manipulative. It's a cheap shot for forgiveness. Have some class, hold it in and wait until you're in a positive place.
Don't say 'I love you' after a big fight that's entirely your fault. It's manipulative. It's a cheap shot.
8. The first night of a long trip together.
If they don't say it back, it's going to be a very, very, very LONG trip.
(Pro tip: Wait until the last night or the plane ride home.)
9. When you're on your period.
I'm not period shaming. I'm just saying we can feel intensely strong feelings when we're so wildly hormonal.
I've done it, then balanced out after my period finished and realized, "Oh shit. I didn't love them. I was just in a madly emotional state, rotted on the couch and watched too many sad movies this week that made me feel alone and vulnerable."
10. When you've had a huge fight with your best friend in the world and you go over to their house and they make you tea and you just scream "I LOVE YOU!" because you're feeling so alone and vulnerable.
11. In front of their parents.
My brother did this. It worked out, but it was very embarrassing for his girlfriend as she had to mutter "I love you, too" in front of my sloshed, hysterical mother.
12. When you're not sure that you really do indeed love this person, but you want to feel love so bad, and they're so kind and nice and lovely and you know they love you, and you think, "If I just say 'I love you,' maybe I'll believe it."
*Name has been changed.