God forbid they reply with 'thank you'

There are milestones in every relationship: becoming “exclusive,” moving in together and getting married are all momentous steps to take.

But another big one is the first saying of “I love you.”

Whilst we love our mums, dogs and halloumi, being in love with someone is something else, and saying it to your boyfriend or girlfriend for the first time can be very nerve-wracking.

What if they don’t feel the same way? What if you scare them off? What if they reply with “thank you”? *shudders*

It’s a cringe-worthy prospect and can leave you feeling vulnerable.

So how do you know when is the right time to say those three little words?

One woman recently posed the dilemma in a Mumsnet forum: “I think my new boyfriend wants to say it but doesn’t want me to not say it back, so he seems to be saying it in a jokey way or a roundabout way recently,” she wrote.

She said they’d been “official” for two months but have been dating for four to five, and asked other women to share their experiences.

From the first date to a year, stories varied wildly.

And although many people say you can’t possibly fall in love with someone straight away, some women who did so revealed their relationships have lasted years.

One told her boyfriend she loved him after “about a week or two” of dating. And, she added, they’ve now been together for 11 years. 

Another woman uttered the L-word three weeks in, they’ve now been together for five and a half years and are getting married this autumn.

She wisely added: “There’s no magic date because each couple is unique and special and will do it at different times. Enjoy the moment when it happens.”

And this is what most psychologists advise too. 

According to Dr Aaron Ben-Zeév, there’s no precise formula for when to say “I love you,” “you should say it whenever you feel that way, without making too many calculations about timing.”

As life goes on, you may even cease to think about it as a big deal at all - one woman who’s been with her now husband for 20 years said she couldn’t even remember when they dropped the L-bomb.

So don’t stress, just say it when you feel you want to.

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