When Should You Say "I Love You"? Here's How Long Most People Wait

If I had to choose one word to describe saying "I love you" to your partner for the first time, I'd have to go with... hmm, exciting? Nope. Thrilling? Hardly. Terrifying? YES. Exactly. Saying "I love you" for the first time is terrifying. What makes it so scary, you ask? Well, I'd have to say that the most petrifying part of it all is the unknown factor. What happens after you say it? What if your partner doesn't say it back? And then, there's the biggest question of them all: how do you even know when to say I love you?! Is there a right time?

Well, unfortunately, I can't answer a lot of those questions for you. I don't know if your partner loves you, too, and I definitely don't know how it's going to go for the two of you after you say it. But, I do have a small piece of science-backed wisdom to offer you in terms of when to drop the L-bomb. Mattress Online surveyed 1,000 British individuals to figure out when people are ready for all sorts of relationship milestones, from the first time they choose Netflix over physical intimacy to the first time they say "I love you."

Let's start with the big one. When is it time to finally say "I love you" for most people? (Well, the real answer is whenever you're ready, and you mean it, but...) The survey found that the timing of this varies greatly, depending on the person. For example, more than half of both men and women surveyed said that they would wait at least three months before admitting the depth of their feelings to their partners. That being said, men are reportedly more than twice as likely as women to say "I love you" after having known someone for just one week. (5% of men said they'd do this, compared to only 2% of women.)

Meanwhile, 33% of women and 29% of men found themselves somewhere in between, saying they'd say those three fateful words somewhere between one and three months into their relationship.

Again, just because the majority of these people would wait over three months, doesn't mean you have to! You reserve the right to say "I love you" whenever you so please.

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All right, now, let's talk about some other relationship milestones. Like that moment when you swap "Netflix and chill" for literally just watching Netflix on the couch with your bae. A pretty significant 40% of 18- to 25-year-olds say this happened in the first one to three months of their relationships. The significance of that percentage is highlighted when compared to only 22% of 33- to 40-year-olds who said the same.

If you're comfortable enough to mutually opt for TV over getting physical together, I would assume that you're also comfortable enough to wear sweats around each other, but... that's not the case. Actually, over one-third of women in the study said they would wait an entire year before they would "start dressing down in front of their partner." So, it looks like they're marathoning Stranger Things in whatever they deem a cute outfit. Alternatively, 53% of men are good to dress down somewhere between six months and 1 year together.

Now, let's talk about exes for a second — as in, when is it cool to start talking about them with a new partner? Well, when it comes to how many "past lovers" you've had, 20% of respondents agreed that the right time to bring that up is... well, never. That being said, dudes tend to be more down to talk about this. 36% of them said they shared their numbers with partners within one to three months. The same cannot be said for women, as only 24% of them would do the same.

What if you still keep in touch with your ex? Hold on to your seats, people, because these numbers are about to shock you. A whopping 49% of men will tell their partner they still chat with their ex somewhere between three months and 1 year. I know, I know... you're wondering what makes that stat so "whopping." Oh, well, it's because 50% of women would wait up to two years!

Something else women don't love talking about? The fact that they cheated. Most women (65%) agreed that they would never tell their current partner that they cheated in a previous relationship. Surprisingly, over half of men didn't say the same. In fact, 51% said they would share that info with their current partner within the first two years.

With all these stats, it's good to know there are no super strict rules about when to say "I love you," because mustering up the courage is enough to think about.

This post was originally published on Feb. 7, 2018. It was updated on Aug. 22, 2019 by Elite Daily Staff.