The two most difficult words to express in a loving relationship are certainly “I love you”. However, they can also be communicated in a variety of other ways, beyond simple verbal communication. Pronouncing these words can contribute to the evolution of a loving relationship, or simply relieve us of a burden.
Fear of commitment
The biggest barrier to expressing these words is often the fear of commitment. According to Suzanne Degges-White, a professional counselor and mental health advisor, some people attach great importance to these two words, and are unwilling to promise something they're afraid to part with. This decision not to express love verbally may also be motivated by other fears, such as rejection, hurt, need or vulnerability.
Who says “I love you” first?
Dundee's Abertay University set out to find out who, in a heterosexual couple, takes the longest to declare their love using those magic words. After surveying 3,109 adults from 7 different countries, the researchers discovered that, on average, men say “I love you” for the first time after 108 days. Women, on the other hand, wait around 122 days before saying them.
Men are the first to say it
The results of the study revealed that men were more likely to confess their love first in a relationship. The researchers also noted that this was more likely when men had more choices, i.e. when they were in the presence of more women. Although men are the ones who confess their love first, other research has shown that women express their feelings more frequently. Indeed, women are generally more expressive in relationships, which is also expected by society.
Men's motivations for saying “I love you” first can vary depending on whether or not the couple has already had sex. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, men prefer to say these words before having sex because they see them as a promise of future actions. Women, on the other hand, often choose to do so after having had sex, as they interpret sex as being associated with a stronger commitment. What's more, men who heard “I love you” after having sex proved to be even happier.
The right moment
Choosing the right moment to say “I love you” can vary from person to person. According to one survey, around a fifth of those questioned consider it acceptable to say it after one to two months in a relationship, and for 0.5% of them, it's enough to have known the other person for less than a week. However, many lovers wait and search for the perfect moment to declare their love. Various factors can influence the time it takes, but trust in the feelings of love is the most important.
Is timing more important than honesty?
According to emotional expert Dr. Aaron Ben-Zeev, there's no “perfect” time to say “I love you.” It could be after five dates, after three months, or any time you feel ready to do so. What really counts, he says, is the depth of the relationship and how it develops. Ultimately, it doesn't matter who says “I love you” first or most often, what matters is the sincerity of the feelings and the evolution of the relationship.
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