I'm a capital "E" extrovert about saying pretty much every feeling I ever have except those three disgusting, little words. JK, I'm just a bitter single person trying to make a funny; they are not disgusting. That said, they really aren't easy for me to say — I haven't even said them yet in this article. When I ask myself, "Should I say 'I love you'?" to someone I'm dating, the answer is usually a hard, "No thank you."
If you are reading this article, you are probably a more evolved adult human than I am, and you are probably considering the beautiful act that is sharing these special words with your partner for the first time. I genuinely do applaud you (and feel very jealous of your open heart). Now that you've decided you are going to say it (proud of you), you need to choose a time and place.
This is where my cynicism will be of great assistance to you, because along with the help of some experts, I am going to tell you exactly where and when you should not say "I love you" to your partner for the first time. Hopefully, from there, you will have such limited options that you'll know just when to do it, and it will be lovely and beautiful and you'll feel that high of being in actual love. Here are 12 moments you definitely shouldn't say "I love you" to your partner for the first time.
1. During Coitus
If you are old enough to be having sex, you are old enough to know that this is not the time to say "I love you" for the first time. Everything feels "better than drugs" when you are boning (assuming the sex is good). The chemicals flinging back and forth between your two bodies can make you want to say "I love you," when what you really mean is "I love coming."
Love biologist Dawn Maslar explains that sex boosts the chemicals oxytocin and norepinephrine, which make the situation “stickier.” She recommends you think about whether you would have wanted to say "I love you" before you had the sex. That's a great question to ask yourself, and yes, I am pretty sure that I've fallen in love with sex before. Oops.
2. On A Road Trip
Road trips are hard. You are confined to a tiny space where you can reach out and touch your partner at all times. (Unless one of you gets relegated to the back seat.) Car ride silences can be weird to fill, but don't make the rookie mistake of blurting out "I love you" to end the quiet. That's what podcasts are for.
This is especially rude if your partner is driving. They're stuck in the car with you, so you're not giving them much of an out. Peer pressure is not ideal when saying "I love you" for the first time.
3. After Three Margaritas
When I have three margaritas, I fancy myself some kind of philosopher. Each thing I say or type feels like a brilliant idea, but usually it is not. After three drinks, I'm not drunk enough to know to tuck it in and act like a grown-up, but I am not sober enough to keep my thoughts to myself either. This is the danger zone.
If the words accidentally slide out of your mouth like that last tequila shot slid down your throat? Take a deep breath. “Hey, it happened,” says matchmaker Brooke Wise. “There's just a good chance it might not be said back to you.” It doesn't really count until you've said it sober.
4. At The First Wedding You Attend Together
Weddings are beautiful and make me want to tell all of the cocktail waiters that I am in love with them, but if you say those three words to your partner at a wedding, they are going to feel less like a declaration of your love, and more like a proposal. Even if they really do love you, they might get very preemptive cold feet about seeing you in white.
5. On The Third Date
Woman, chill out. I hate being told to chill, but you need to hear it. Even if you've met the perfect specimen and even if there are stories of people saying "I love you" on first dates, take a breather. If you've spent a total of nine hours with this person, you've probably known them for less time than you've known your childhood dentist. See?
6. While Scuba Diving On Vacation
Do you really want to be the girl that startled her partner with a gestured "I love you" underwater that made him shoot up to the surface too fast and maybe even die? Didn't think so.
7. At Dinner With Your/Their/Anyone's Parents
While you might be feeling like things are heading in a particular direction — and you're probably right if you are meeting each others' parents — you probably also want your parents to think of you as mature adults, not hookup monsters who met on Bumble and fell in love. Don't throw phrases like "our love for each other" or "because he loves me so much" around by accident in front of the grown-ups. This is the kind of moment where it's easy to slip, and hard to recover from.
8. When They Have Food In Their Mouth
Choking is real, and I know you don't want to shock anyone to death. (See #6.)
9. After You See Your Ex Just Got Engaged
Or after your younger sister says "I love you" to her boyfriend, or when you're feeling uncertain, or trying to forward or solidify a relationship. "I love you" is to be said when it's felt, not as a next step in a relationship.
10. During Turbulence On An Airplane
Don't rush the first "I love you" just because you think you're going to die. The plane is probably not going down, and who knows how much you will have meant it when you land? Plus, this will confirm that you are a timid flyer, which is fine, but not exactly sexy, you dig?
11. When You're In A Fight
"I LOVE YOU" IS NOT A BAND-AID. I repeat, SAYING "I LOVE YOU" IS NOT A BAND-AID. That's what engagements and babies are for. (Just kidding.) If you're fighting a lot with your partner, and you try to make it up to them by saying "I love you" to confirm you really are in it, you're doing everyone a disservice.
12. After They Say It To You
Obviously, if you feel it, say it back. That said, do not mumble a half-hearted "luffyoutoo" just because someone told you they loved you. Ideally, they'll understand you need some time before saying it back. Maybe you tell them you want to say it on your own terms, or digest it first. (On second thought, maybe don't say the latter.) Still, there should be no pressure to say it right away. Lying or exaggerating your feelings is worse than an awkward silence.
There you have it. Say it for the right reasons. Don't spring an "I love you" on your partner on any of the above times, so that everyone survives to see another day and so that you don't have major "too-much-tequila" spirals in the morning. All you need to do is say it when you feel it, and make sure you mean it. According to Wise, ask yourself two major questions: “Do you really feel confident in the strength of your relationship?” and “Do you know that the person is moving in the same direction that you are?"
But seriously: Love you all. Have fun out there.
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