The L word: How to say it, mean it & embrace it

Saying “I love you” to someone for the first time signifies a milestone for any relationship. Once it’s out there, it’s just as important to keep the love going as it is to say how you feel. This year, make it blossom by embracing the motivation behind the word and showing your loved one just how much you care.

couple in love

Say it to his face

Saying “I love you” to someone for the first time is often an intimidating undertaking. Ask two friends about the best approach, and you’ll almost certainly receive two conflicting answers. Ultimately, you have to trust your instincts because you understand your guy and relationship better than an outsider ever could. Before you say anything, though, consider these four ILY guidelines:

  • The L-word is not a relationship barometer. Avoid saying it just to get an idea of how much the other person is into the relationship.
  • Don’t feel pressured to reciprocate a feeling. It’s better to say thank you than to say something you aren’t ready to say or don’t mean.
  • Avoid saying it as a tactic to win an argument or procure a favor.
  • When you are ready to say it for the first time, then just say it. In person. A text or email won’t do your feelings or relationship justice.

Above all, remember that your love is a gift. Don’t let the anxiety of when or how to say it overrule the excitement and beauty of the moment.

Show how much you mean it

Showing him that you’re sincere is even more important than saying it in the first place. To mean it is to back it up with actions on a consistent basis. If you think about it, when you tell someone that you love him, you’re making a commitment to make sure he feels loved and valued. So show that you mean it through gestures like turning your phone off during a meal, making a playlist of his favorite music, taking the initiative in planning an evening out (bonus points if it’s at one of his favorite places), and by making the first move in the bedroom once in a while — especially if you usually wait for him to make an advance.

Speaking of making advances, before you utter love for the first time, consider your typical relationship habits. Getting out of your comfort zone to make your favorite person feel empowered is the ultimate way to really show you mean it. The best way to express your love may be to wait to say how you’re feeling if you’re typically the move-maker in the equation.

Don’t fight the feeling

Make this year the year that you embrace your feelings and take risks in your relationships. Sharing love that comes from an honest place will always work out to your benefit, even if the outcome is not what you expected. In the long run, it may save you from spending time with (and on) someone who may never be able to match your feelings in a balanced, reciprocal relationship. Above all, spend time taking care of yourself so you look and feel your very best. Being in a good place makes sharing love with others easy.

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