I love you? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)I love you.
This is arguably the most powerful phrase in the English language – or any language, for that matter – because of how much emotion is tied to it.
When said in a romantic relationship, the scenario can go one of two ways: the person says it back or you’re left hanging without a reply.
Alternatively, they might say ‘thank you’ or give you a passionate kiss, hoping that you’ll forget all about it.
If they do say it back, all is great in the world and it will likely bring you both closer together as a couple. However, if for whatever reason they don’t, it could spell trouble in paradise.
It’s completely natural to reach this stage of a relationship at different times – just because your partner is ready to say it, doesn’t mean you have to be.
You can’t force yourself to fall in love.
That being said, is there such a thing as the ideal time to say I love you?
Psychologist and dating expert Madeleine Mason Roantree tells Metro.co.uk some harsh truths about love and explains that unless you have spent time getting to know the other person, it’s always too soon.
‘It’s too early to say I love you if you don’t know the person well,’ said Madeleine.
‘And you don’t do that until you have met some friends, family or colleagues, you know their habits and daily routine, learned about their upbringing, they have shared personal details such as painful past experiences or embarrassing moments with you and lastly you both have had a couple of meaningful experiences together, for example a trip somewhere.
‘This can take a week or a year. If after a year you struggle to say I love you, consider that you have issues with commitment.
‘If you say “I love you” within the first month, consider that you may be in love with the idea of a relationship than the person you claim to love.’
One of the biggest concerns with dropping the ‘L bomb’ is the fear that it will scare the other person away.
It can also highlight that you’re on different speeds in the relationship, or that you don’t have the same end goal.
Unless you’ve been upfront about your emotions while getting to know each other, it’s possible that one person may want a casual fling, while the other was on a trajectory towards ‘true love’.
If you don’t know how to move forward, it could cause permanent damage to the relationship.
‘First, you need to accept that this is a time of discovery – specifically, to discover whether the relationship is based on love or lust,’ said Lianne Young, a sex and relationship guru at House of Ardent.
‘Dating someone and not feeling the hot passion you experienced the first time you were together doesn’t mean it’s over.
‘It just means the relationship has moved to the next phase – generally a more realistic phase and you should allow this to happen before making the decision if you are actually “in love” with someone.
‘So give some thought to this question – is there any other aspect to your relationship beyond sex that makes you want to spend time with her or him?
‘If so, stick around to find out and grow.’
If the other person doesn’t respond how you expect, it could cause friction in the relationship (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)As for the the specific timing on when you should utter the words, Lianne recommends three months, as does Michael Blakeley, relationship expert and founder of the dating app, Clikd.
‘Too early can cause issues, in the first few weeks you can scare them off,’ said Michael.
‘Too long and then you run the risk of making [it] an unspoken thing.
A reasonable period is three months, but can vary from person to person, but the most important things is do it when you mean it.’
While three months may be advisable, new research by the dating website eharmony has revealed that one in 10 Brits say it within just a week of dating.
It was also found that those most likely to do so in this timeframe are men under 35 (22%).
A quick poll on Twitter however revealed that 41% thought saying ‘I love you’ within a week is too soon, and 12% would hold off between three to six months.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, because no one understands the exact ins and outs of a relationship except the two people who are a part of it.
All you can do is listen to your gut and hope for the best.
And if you’re on the receiving end but don’t feel the same? Good luck.
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