Those three little words
No phrase holds greater power than ‘I love you’. Here’s how to keep it romantic, expressive and panic-free.
if you haven’t gone there yet, saying ‘I love you’ can be more angst-ridden than a root canal. But if you’ve been saying those words for years, it can feel like they need an emotional reboot. Read on for ways to declare your love tenderly, fearlessly and with a full heart.
If it’s the first time
Saying ‘I love you’ can be a terrifying, starry-eyed – did I mention terrifying? – thing. But the vulnerability that makes it so intense is also what allows a relationship to cross over into new
and exciting places: sex is better, laughter is louder, commitment is stronger.
There’s no rule about when it’s right or who should say it first. Your intuition will probably tell you, so pay attention. When the word love feels like it’s about to climb out of your mouth, think, ‘Why now? Why this person?’ If you know you love him or her – and you’re sure it’s not just lust – say it! Remember, you’re already brave enough to be open with yourself about how you feel.
If it’s, like, the millionth time
The words might roll off the tongue easier, but they’re no less rich. Look your partner in the eye and tell them you love them, and why.
It’s not just instinctual anymore; you love them because they nursed you through the flu, supported you through work drama, stood by you when your mom got sick. You know the saying, ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways’? Go on, count them. Out loud!
If it’s unrequited
Maybe your love stories are moving at different speeds. Maybe you’re bursting with love, hinting without reciprocation. Or vice versa. If everything else checks out – commitment, closeness, sweet kisses – it’s probably shyness on one of your parts. If so, stay calm, it will come.
But be careful with those who don’t actually want love. A friend once confronted her long-term boyfriend about the fact that he’d never said it. He admitted he didn’t love her yet, maybe never. That’s painful stuff. Still, she can finally stop wondering.