How Long Should You Wait Before Saying “I Love You”

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Perhaps the greatest gift we can give to another human being is to love them. It also may be the greatest need that we have as human beings is to experience love. Often we confuse the need to experience love with the need to be loved by others. It is not as usual for example, for someone to say ” I love you ” in the hopes that they will hear the same words in return. Additionally, as human beings, we tend to confuse the joy of sex with the experience of love.

saying "I love you"

What is Sex?

What is sex? A strict definition of sex might be intercourse, but let’s be real, sex can be communicated through the simplest touch, even the simplest words. In today’s times, it is not unusual to treat sex as just another form of pleasure, right up there with alcohol, and food. In its deepest form, sex is the ultimate sharing of self through intimacy. Which of these is correct? The answer is in how do we choose to use our sex drive. Is it simply a vehicle for pleasure? Or is it a means for intimate contact in a relationship? If we’re honest, one is an ideal and ideals are something we strive for. Ultimately how you hold sex has to do with your own values and principles.

An old-fashioned view of sex is that it was an expression of love and to be reserved as such. However, as long as there’ve been human beings, the sex drive has been confused with love. The drive is so strong that we’re often willing to believe that we’re experiencing love in order to fulfill this drive.

What is Love?

An understatement would be to say that to experience love is when we deeply appreciate and connect with another human being. There are many kinds of love, if you Google how many kinds of love you’ll find there are at least 15 kinds of love out there. Of these 15, only one involves sex. 

What they all have in common is there is something in the other person that we appreciate and want to emulate, encourage, or develop and grow.  The lesson here is though it is easy to confuse sex with love, there are many kinds of love that have nothing to do with sex. Be careful! It’s interesting statistically, that men are far more trigger-happy when it comes to saying “I love you” to a partner, and guess what? It has everything to do with sex. 

saying "I love you"

So When Do We Say “It”?

Women are less confused about the distinction between sex and love. When you think about it this makes sense, women tend to be more relational while men tend to be more goal-oriented.

Statistically, when it comes to saying I love you to a partner for the first time approximately 20% of the general public think the ideal time to wait is 3 months. About a quarter of the population thinks it’s okay to say it after 4 weeks. However, a whopping 35% already have said I love you even before 4 weeks or up, and these tend to be guys.

Guys, think twice about rushing I love you. Statistically, 5% of women believe that saying “I love you” within the first two weeks is a good idea. Since guys tend to be a little more trigger happy here, you really want to think twice about when you’re going to say this. You may be feeling it in the first two weeks, but see if you can hold out and test it over time. The fact is if you rush the relationship by saying “I love you” too early, this can actually be a red flag for your partner.

So What’s the Right Answer?

The fact is we could all stand to take love, and perhaps even sex, a lot more seriously. The first step before we start saying “I love you” is to ask ourselves why? What is it about this person that we love? What is it that we’re responding to? How chemical is it? How emotional is it really? 

We also need to understand what is our deep-seated need for love all about? What kind of love is it that we are missing? Psychology tells us that we all crave the love of our parents no matter how loving a household we come from. How much of what we’re wanting is about what we feel we missed from our childhood? There’s another argument that we all have a God-shaped hole that only divine love can fill. How true is this for you?

Being In Love

When it comes to being in love with the human being what we’re ultimately seeking is a life partner. Before we give in to the desire to say the words “I love you” in an amorous way, we want to make sure that we’re not on a fishing trip. We want to make sure that the other person truly has the qualities that we want in a partner.

It’s easy to get swept up in the moment, to give in to the desire to be in love. I’ve counseled many people who simply love being in love. These are repeat marriers and also repeat divorcees. They fall in love, get married, and when it wears off? They’re off to the races looking for a new person to be in love with.

Bear in mind that being in love is a temporary state. Statistically, it lasts approximately two to three years. One person inevitably falls out of love before the other. So what happens afterward? You’re going to want this person to be your best friend. You will want them to treat you as an equal and vice versa. You’re going to want to have shared values and principles. And certainly some kind of shared vision in which you’re both developing individually and as a couple. Perhaps even as a family. 

So before you start saying “I love you”, think carefully about why you’re saying it. Who are you saying it to? What’s your motivation?