This Is How Long Guys Wait To Say “I Love You,” & It’s Complicated
Maybe I'm corny, but my favorite relationship milestone is probably the first "I love you." It's just so sweet and exciting, because by the time you finally say it, you've probably been feeling it for a while but have been holding back, waiting for one of you to break down and confess. If you're dating a dude who hasn't dropped the L-bomb, you're probably wondering how long guys wait to say “I love you." Has a "normal" amount of time passed? Should I be worried they haven't said it yet? So many qualms! But all of that goes away when it finally happens. Not only is it romantic, but it comes with a huge wave of relief when you can finally let go of all that pent-up emotional energy.
But when is the timing right? Like all matters of the heart, it's complicated. Every person is different, with different views on what love means, as well as their comfort level with expressing emotion. So, there isn't an exact number of days until they should drop the L-bomb, but there are some general windows of when men feel comfortable saying it — and actually meaning it. Like I said, complicated. To help clarify some of this, I reached out to the experts to get their insight on when to expect "I love you" and what it means when it happens too early, or too late. Here's what they had to say.
When The Timing Is Right
No two relationships are identical, and so each milestone, including saying “I love you,” is going to come in its own time. According to dating coach John Keegan of The Awakened Lifestyle, for it to be sincere, “It has to arrive naturally!” No matter how impatient you're feeling (especially when you're sure of your own feelings), you have to give your partner time to get there. Keegan says the way to do that is by taking the time to get to know each other fully and both knowing what the other wants.
“The man should be disciplined in his love and his timing of saying 'I love you,'" Keegan tells Elite Daily. "He should say it only after he knows the he wants a deeper relationship with you.”
But how long does something like that take? Alessandra Conti, celebrity matchmaker at Matchmakers In The City, says it all depends on how much time you spend together. “Some couples go on a first date and are inseparable, going on multiple dates per week, while other couples do weekend dates or one/two dates a week for the first few months,” Conti tells Elite Daily.
But ultimately it depends on how comfortable they are with expressing their feelings. “Every man is different when it comes to those three little words," Conti says. "Some men have never told a woman that they loved her while others have told all of their exes and flings that they are in love. It all depends on the man and his comfort level with opening up with his feelings."
While there is no exact "right" amount of time, Damona Hoffman, host of the Dates & Mates Podcast, does say there is a typical window for when men sincerely say "I love you."
“Each relationship is different but I would say the average is between three to six months," Hoffman tells Elite Daily. "My husband waited nine months to say it when we were dating and it was torture!”
If He Says It Right Away, That’s A Red Flag
While you may be feeling eager to hear your parter confess their love, if it happens too soon, you should be wary. "If you've only known each other a couple weeks when he says 'I love you,' he couldn't really love you because he still doesn't truly know you yet," warns Hoffman.
"It means 'I love the idea of you,' which sometimes turns into a long-term partnership but sometimes evolves away from the reality of the relationship,” Conti adds. “Love takes time to grow; while a man can love his initial impression of you and can love thinking about a future with you, it is important for him to take the time to get to know you before diving in and saying ‘I love you.’”
How Long Is Too Long To Wait?
While saying "I love you" too soon can undercut the sincerity of those feelings, what does it mean when it's been over a year and they still haven't expressed their feelings?
Conti says holding off for a long time isn’t automatic cause for concern, because for some guys it just takes a lot longer to say it.
“It may take some men years to say those words, because he may have an idea that he only wants to tell one woman that he loves her in his lifetime,” she says. So then, the question really becomes: How do you feel about waiting?
“If it is something that you are longing for in a relationship and it has been over a year, it's time to open the lines of communication so that you are not left feeling unloved and emotionally unfulfilled,” says Conti.
Saying "I love you" can mean more than just expressing an emotion. It's also a milestone that represents a commitment, so if you feel that the relationship is stalling out, Keegan says their reluctance to say "I love you" could be a sign that they are intentionally keeping things light.
“He's resisting going into the depths because he wants to keep all his options open," Keegan says. "If you feel him really exploring the possibility of a real relationship, then let it unfold in its own time.”
Ultimately, the right amount of time to wait to hear "I love you" really depends on the nature of your relationship. However, a good indicator that it's been too long, Hoffman says, is when “it begins to breed resentment within you.”
So, what did we learn? At the end of the day guys are going to say “I love you” when the timing is right. If they say it too soon, look out. And if they aren’t saying it soon enough, it's time to have a serious talk. Just as important as them being ready to say it, is them giving you what you need. In fact, maybe it's time to take the lead and say it first.
"If you're feeling it, you shouldn't be afraid to say it," Hoffman says. "It's time we threw out those antiquated dating rules that disempower women." Because your time table is just as important as theirs.
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