I love you. Such simple words. Why, then are they so difficult to say? Many people wrestle with the decision to say them for some time. They wonder if it is the right time. Is it too soon? Will the other person say it back? Will they flip out that I am saying it, and will it force them to bail on me? And this is just the thought process for the person who ISN'T prone to over-thinking everything.
So when is a good time to tell someone new that you love them? There are those who seem to fall in love instantly and say the words as if they have no meaning. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who avoid the words as if they will be struck by lightning if ever they say them out loud. There simply must be a happy medium.
Most people say that “You will just know when the right time is to say it.” Gee. Thanks. Best advice I ever received. Still others say that you should wait until you fully believe that the other person will say the words in return. And, while this may be the best advice yet, it is often nearly impossible to decipher another person's thoughts, no matter how well you know them.
But this then begs the question: what happens if your feelings aren't reciprocated? Or, what if someone says those three dreaded words to you and you don't feel the same way? This can cause a great deal of awkwardness in a relationship. Some dread these words being said because they think that there is then an obligation to say them in return. They think that if one person says that they are in love and the other isn't, the relationship is ultimately doomed. They think that these one-sided sentiments cannot be overcome and that the one in love will not understand that the other person does not feel the same way.
Personally, I disagree with these people. Though love is an emotional thing, sometimes logic must simply be applied. No two people are going to fall in love at exactly the same time. This is not a Hollywood happy ending where everyone seems to fall in love and live happily ever after in a 1-week period. In real life, one person will simply fall in love faster than the other.
So what do you do if someone says “I love you” and you don't feel the same? One theory is that you should simply say “No you don't.” This would give the one “in love” the chance to think about whether or not they truly feel that way, while saving face. Not only is it hard to say “I love you,” but sometimes it is hard to realize whether or not you are truly in love with a person. This response gives both parties time to realize how they feel about each other. Not only that, but the other person will likely not say those words again unless you say them first.
In the end, there is no ideal time frame in which to tell someone that you love them. Each situation is unique, just like the individuals involved. Each person has to decide what is right for them. But, consider the ramifications carefully. After all, having someone say “I love you” without meaning it is far worse than never hearing it at all.