How Long Should You Wait To Say "I Love You"? 8 People Share Their Stories

I love you. I used to believe that those three little words carried some kind of mystical weight — that once they were uttered and returned, their energy would carry the power to bring order to the universe, and peace to the inner workings of my chaotic mind. But I never knew how long to wait before saying "I love you," so I always proceeded with caution. When I finally mustered up the courage to say the words out loud, something quite unexpected happened.

There was no live orchestra playing Lana Del Rey in my eardrums, no message written with scattered constellations in the sky. What I did experience was the overwhelming sensation of comfort, which came from the knowledge that I could let my feelings run free, uninhibited by self-doubt and insecurity. That's the true beauty of requited love: taking solace in the shared vulnerability that comes with putting your guard down and letting somebody else in.

Everybody says "I love you" during different phases of a relationship — there is no correct point in time when the words just seem to magically fall from your lips. Instead of getting inside your head, let your heart and intuition tell you when you're falling in love. When you meet the right person, it won't be something you know, but rather, something you start to feel.

1The Subtle Hint

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Kathleen*, 23, waited six months before ever hooking up with her partner. Three months after they made it official, they exchanged their first "I love you"s. "He said it first, but I was basically leading him on to say it," she tells Elite Daily. "Otherwise, he probably would have said it soon, but not when he actually did."

The two have been together for four and a half years.

2The Long Gap

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Mona*, 24, drunkenly hooked up with her partner for the first time during a night out. Three months later, they confessed their love to each other. Soon after, they took a break and began seeing other people.

Eight months after first hooking up, they started dating and exchanged the words again.

3The Prequel

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Emily*, 22, was still dating an ex when she realized that she was in love with one of her very best friends! As it turns out, her feelings were indeed requited. The two told each other they were in love five months before ever kissing, hooking up, or even dating. But since she was unavailable, they nipped their connection in the bud.

Once she became single, they quickly began seeing each other again. Two months later, and seven months after their first confession, they said "I love you" for the second time.

4The Breakup

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"Five months after we first started hooking up, we said I love you," Beth*, 23, tells Elite Daily. "And we broke up the same afternoon."

Beth and her partner have been together, on and off, for over five years.

5The Valentine's Day Curse

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Three years ago, Ingrid*, 24, was dumped on Valentine's Day. "I was working with the guy I was seeing, and he confessed that he was in love with his best friend," she tells Elite Daily. "I vowed to give up on love after that."

A year later, on the exact same day, Ingrid exchanged "I love you"s for the very first time in her life, with a new partner. "I finally broke my Valentine's curse," she says.

The words came six months after they began hooking up, and three months after they started officially dating. They have been together for almost two years.

6The Dramatic Exit

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Alessandra*, 20, had been dating her partner for almost three months, when he first told her that he loved her. He then announced that he was hopping on a plane to Spain, and didn't know when he'd be back in the country. Talk about leaving with a bang!

Thanks to the power of FaceTime, their relationship is going strong.

7The Longest Distance

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Miranda*, 25, and her partner went to high school together. The two continued seeing each other on and off for two years into college. Eight months after they started officially dating, they said "I love you" for the first time over text.

"I think we were actually in the middle of a semi fight about what we should do over the summer," she tells Elite Daily. In the same conversation, they decided to move to New York City. They've been living together ever since.

8The Awaited Response

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Ashton*, 23, and his girlfriend began hooking up at the end of January. Three months later, she told him she loved him, but he couldn't bring himself to say it back because of a long-term relationship that he ended badly.

About a month later, he brought her as his date to a formal event. It was there that he realized that he truly felt the same way, and said it back. They've been together for more than three years.

It's true what they say: Love really does work in mysterious ways. So if you aren't ready to tell your partner that you love them, or haven't experienced love firsthand in a relationship, there's no need for concern. That in no way means that you incapable or underserving of love — only that love will find you when you least expect it. Keep an open mind and an open heart, and remember that the most important relationship you can maintain is with yourself.

*Names have been changed.

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