If You're Ready To Say 'I Love You' To Your Partner, You'll Notice These 4 Things

When it comes to relationship milestones that are thrilling, elating, and nerve-wracking all at the same time, it’s tough to beat saying “I love you.” It’s just three little words, right? But knowing when you’re ready to say I love you isn’t always easy. Not to mention, you can never know for sure how the other person will react or respond to you saying it.

Some may eagerly declare it just a month or two into dating. For others, it may take far longer for their feelings to justify those words. As for me, I decided I was ready to say “I love you” when I simply couldn’t not say it any longer. After realizing how many times it had almost slipped out of my mouth, I knew it was time to give in to my instincts and make the depth of my feelings known.

Ultimately, of course, the “right time” to say “I love you” is going to depend on the nature of the relationship. But according to Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent dating and couples therapist in Los Angeles, here are a number of signs that may suggest it’s time to utter this game-changing phrase.

You’re always thinking about the next time you’ll see them.

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Do you consistently miss them when they’re not around? Does a few days apart feel like eternity? Do you eagerly look forward to being with them? Dr. Brown says these are all potential signs that you’re in love, and if that’s the case, then you may as well express that to your boo.

When you always find yourself wanting to lock in plans to see bae again, that probably means your feelings for them have grown, because you can’t imagine your life without them.

You’re beginning to talk about a future together.

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Perhaps you’ve talked about the possibility of moving in together, or casually discussed what it would be like if you had kids together. Or maybe you’ve had a conversation about wanting to travel the world together. Regardless of your shared goals and dreams, according to Dr. Brown, talking about your future is a stellar sign you’re ready to say “I love you.”

Think of it this way: If you’re picturing a future with your current partner, there’s a good chance you already love them. And to boot, if they’re eagerly participating in such serious discussions with you, there’s a good chance they feel the same way (phew!).

You trust them to enter your inner world.

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If you’ve introduced your boo to your family and friends, that means they’ve become pretty important to you. Not only do you want to include them in your inner world, but you obviously trust them enough to bring them around the other people who matter to you most.

Dr. Brown says this is a strong sign that it’s about time to say “I love you.” Uttering those three little words may feel risky, but think of it this way: you’ve already brought bae around your loved ones, which is a risk in itself.

You’ve come to consider them a best friend.

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Another sign that you’re ready to say “I love you” is if you’ve come to lean on your significant other as more than just a romantic partner — but also as a friend.

“You not only feel attracted to them but genuinely like who they are as a person,” adds Dr. Brown.

Is your SO the first person you want to text or call when something amazing or terrible happens? Do you value their advice on everything from how to approach your boss about a raise and how to deal with a family member you’re fighting with? When your boo also happens to be your best friend, you can say “I love you” and hopefully feel both comfortable and emotionally safe. Because a true friend would want to know how you really feel.

So, what if you still feel nervous or skittish about saying it? Dr. Brown advises asking yourself why.

“Is your uncertainty based upon you not being sure that you are in love, or could it possibly be that you are but not certain about the other person’s feelings about you?” he adds.

If you’ve never felt this way before, Dr. Brown also notes that saying "I love you" for the first time can feel like a large “emotional hurdle.”

“If you know that you truly are in love with the person, I would strongly recommend that you take the risk and tell them,” says Dr. Brown. “Otherwise, you may wind up feeling tremendous regret for not having told them, because in telling them the course of your relationship could have changed. The pain of regret is why I have been saying to people for over 25 years: be bold in love. Love requires courage. Follow your heart and settle for more than less. In this case, more would be declaring your love, even if you are not certain how they will respond.”

Only you can know when you’re ready to finally say, “I love you.” But any of these signs should serve as evidence that you likely do have the feelings to back it up. Remember: Expressing how you feel with those three little words is a blessing — both for you and your boo. For you, it will likely feel liberating to boldly declare your love rather than bottle it up, and for them, it may serve as an inspiration to share their feelings in return.