couples

From sleep-talking to yelling: 16 women on telling their partner ‘I love you’ for the first time.

Few moments early in a relationship are deliberated as much as saying ‘I love you’ for the first time.

The fundamental assumption behind saying it is - this is serious, we aren’t just dating anymore, we’re in love.

It becomes a sort of milestone to strive for, a certain validation stamped onto a couple to secure its legitimacy. So naturally, there can be pressure around the circumstances in which we say it and the time period in which it occurs.. or doesn’t. 

Watch 'How do you know if you ACTUALLY love the person you're with?' Post continues below. 


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People anguish trying to curate the perfect conditions for the moment to occur. There are romantic portrayals in movies we want to live up to, our friend’s opinions on timings, and even gender norms we may subconsciously subscribe to when thinking about who should say it first. 

On top of all this, there’s the risk involved too. What if our partner doesn’t feel the same way back and says the dreaded ‘thank you’ in response?!

What I’ve learnt from speaking to various women about this topic is that while most of us want it to be this artful declaration of love, so often it will end up being blurted out in the most unusual of times. It can be anti-climatic, clunky and unexpected.

And that’s wholly normal.

For me, love was felt far before it was said. Now I wish I had said it sooner because - as you’ll find out below - waiting for the 'right' moment didn’t really mean much in the end at all. 

I now know that there’s no such thing as the correct time to say it, or a perfect way to deliver this rather romantic news. 

…But just to double check that there’s absolutely no rhyme or reason when it comes to falling in love, I checked in with 16 women to see how their first ‘I love you’ moments went down.

Katie

"My boyfriend dropped the L-bomb pretty early on in our relationship, but I wasn't quite ready to say it yet. So I waited a little bit longer for the feelings to brew. 

"Then we went on a camping trip and it was really romantic and I was like, 'THE TIME IS NOW'... so I told him I loved him on the final night of our trip. He was excited, said 'I love you too' and it was all very cute, until.... he casually let me know that I'd actually said it to him in my sleep two nights prior. Classic." 

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Eleanor (me!)

"I've been dating my boyfriend for six months now and have been feeling pretty loved up for a while.

"I told one of my best friends back in February and explained to her that I didn't know how to tell him. She then let it slip to him when she had one too many bevs. 

"Cut to a couple of weeks ago, we were lying in bed doing our daily gratitude routine with each other when he slipped it in that he was grateful to have fallen in love with me. So cute, I thought, and excitedly said it back. 

"He then told me that my friend had already told him back in Feb so I felt kind of awkward. I'm not angry at her though and if anything, it's kind of funny in retrospect what a big deal I had made out of telling him."

Rikki

"My hubby and I were in the middle of Cronulla Mall, tanked to the tops and fighting about who-knows-what. I stormed off home and he ran after me down the mall yelling 'but I looooovvveeee yooouuuu!!' We'd been together for 2 weeks."

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast about what women are talking about this week. Post continues after podcast.

Polly

"I met my ex-boyfriend in London two weeks before I moved to Australia. He sent me flowers to arrive at my apartment as soon as I landed and then we spoke on the phone every single day for three months - then he flew over to see me. He knocked on the door and when I opened it he said, 'I love you'."

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Nicolle

"My boyfriend (now husband) was being really awkward. We were watching movies, and he said 'elephant shoe'. It was like he was too awkward to say it but made it more awkward by not saying it. 

"Then I asked him what he said and then he said 'I love you'. It was only four weeks in and I said it back - although I don't know if I actually loved him, I knew I would eventually. Anyway, that was literally 14 years ago."

Charlie

"My current boyfriend and I had been dating for probably two months and we'd been out drinking at the pub in the middle of winter. We went to my parent's place and my mum was getting plans together to renovate the house.

"He was studying architecture, so she asked him heaps of questions. Long story short, it was so warm that he fainted (for the first time ever) onto the table my mum was sitting at and we had to grab his arms and pull him off the table.

"She barely knew him and was very confused. 10 minutes later we sat down and he said, ‘I love you’. It was hilarious."

Amber

"My ex-boyfriend said it to me after we'd been hanging out for less than a month when we were lying in bed with the lights off. I was like, ‘Turn the light on and say it again so I can see you’.

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"He then ended up never remembering the first time we said it. I was so mad and reminded him but he kept forgetting."

Sarah

"I had been dating my current girlfriend for a few months and she was about to go overseas. I remember being in her room and she told me she loved me and I didn't hesitate in saying it back. She was going away for a few months, though, and we spoke on the phone and messaged constantly, but for some reason I never said it while she was over there! As soon as she got back she said she felt weird about it and I apologised because it wasn't intentional - even if it had made her feel really insecure!"

Meghna

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"In my time, things functioned a bit differently in India. There was no concept of saying 'I love you'. If you have been going to movies and eating out with the same person for a month, then it’s implied that you are in love, and all parties involved live with that assumption! I think he must have said ‘I love you’ for first time on our honeymoon!"

Belinda

"My now-husband and I met on Plenty Of Fish and after our first date we went for a picnic in the park.

"I brought lunch and a blanket (*may* have brought like five different choices cause I didn’t know what he liked), and then I saw him coming across the park with a massive bunch of flowers and a huge smile. 

"We had a lovely lunch and he helped me back to my car. As we kissed goodbye, without really thinking, he said ‘love you!’ Both our eyes went wide, then we both laughed out loud, the kind where you can’t breathe and slap your own leg. He ended with another kiss and, ‘I do, you know’."

"Five years later, I guess I can say he really did."

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Renee

"It took an ex I had FOREVER to say it (red flag?). We'd been together nine months, and I really wanted to know he felt it before I said it first. 

"But on New Year's I was tired of waiting and told him under the fireworks... He said ‘what?’ and I said it again and he was like, ‘oh, I love you too’."

Renny

"I yelled 'I love you' from the top of the stairs at a bar... It was abrupt and weird and I went down the stairs and he hugged me and said he loved me too."

Jessica

“I was sitting on the couch with my partner and I said, 'I want to tell you something but you don’t have to say it back right now, I just want you to know how I feel'.

"Then I said, 'I love you', and he said it back and told me he had felt that way for a long time but was scared to say it because he didn’t think I felt that way so soon. Now we’re getting married."

Hannah

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"We started going out in May. In late August he told one of my girlfriends that he loved me but didn’t know how to tell me, she had a wine and got overly excited and told me right then and there.

"Two weeks went on and I was waiting for him to tell me. He told me when we were under the weather and I responded 'I already know, I love you too'. And the rest is history - three years this week."

Bella

"I said 'I love you' to my boyfriend while we were lying in bed on a Saturday night. It was scary, intimate and simple."

Talia

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"Weirdly I found this in my phone over the weekend from 2013. It was the first time my ex said it to me. It was via a missed voicemail."

Britt

“We were disagreeing on something and I literally yelled it at him out of frustration and he yelled it back. I feel like it was the perfect way for it to be said as we are both a bit no fuss with that kind of stuff.”

Feature Image: Mamamia + Supplied.