Saying “I love you” for the first time can be nerve-wracking. Do you go with your gut and say it as soon as the thought strikes? Or do you play it cool through fear of rejection?
New research from dating site eHarmony suggests a lot of us like to hedge our bets, with people in the UK taking an average of 137 days, or four and a half months, to say those three little words.
But others take the plunge far earlier. Jo Palmer, from Chelmsford, Essex, started talking to her now-husband, Stu, about heavy metal online. They spoke for over a year, but she said “I love you” after spending just a few days with him in person at a music festival.
“I think my exact words were: ‘I know this is really weird and probably too soon, but I can’t not say it any more…’” she tells HuffPost UK. “I’d had enough beer that my emotional barriers were lowered and I was a bit braver than usual, but not enough that I wasn’t fully aware of how I felt and in control of my words.
“He immediately said it back to me, thank goodness. We’ve been disgustingly happy together ever since, married nearly five years, and I love him so much.”
Londoners are the most hesitant to say “I love you”, taking 194 days (more than six months), according to the new research. Meanwhile those in the South West are the most open, taking 114 days (around three months).
Jonathan Davies, 26, from Newport South Wales, said those magic words around three months after he’d started seeing his partner, Emma, but it didn’t quite go to plan.
“She laughed! She thought I was joking, so I had to do that really awkward ‘Ha....ha....yeah’ play along with it,” he explains. “I said it again a week later and this time she said it back. I told her I wasn’t joking the first time around and she felt terrible. Fortunately, she saw the funny side when I divulged that story in my wedding speech.”
Clare Hartshorne’s big moment was also not exactly plain sailing. Her partner’s best friend revealed he’d said he was in love just one day after they’d gotten together.
“I just laughed as the friend clearly realised he shouldn’t have blurted it out,” the 32-year-old, from London, says. “I didn’t mention it to my partner as it would have been pressurising for both of us. I realised I loved him a few weeks later though. He then said it to me a few weeks later when I was being a pain moaning about having to walk back from a club rather than get a cab. I said it to him the next day.”
Philippa, 26, from London, knew she was ready to drop the L-bomb a month and a half into dating her partner. “He said he was falling for me and I said outright ‘I think I love you’ and he said ‘I’m so glad you said that because I didn’t want to scare you by saying I love you so thought I’d say falling for you instead’,” she says.
“It seems so quick now I think about it, but we’re a year on and still going strong so guess it wasn’t a bad thing.”
Charli Kneale’s boyfriend, Murray, had a similar response when she said “I love you” four months after they’d met.
“Murray took me away for a weekend for my birthday. We went to Oban on the west coast of Scotland to watch the fireworks show over the harbour. I loved the trip so much. But whilst watching the fireworks in his arms, freezing cold in November, I let it slip,” the 26-year-old, from Cornwall, explains. “It was a thought that suddenly sounded aloud. My boyfriend’s response was that of elation and he immediately told me that he had been holding it in for months because he didn’t want to scare me away.”