The Psychology Behind Who Says ‘I Love You’ First In A Relationship

Three words, eight letters and a whole lot of make-or-break relationship moments. Saying “I Love You” has strengthened and doomed relationships for generations. Along with getting together and divorcing, the official admission of love is a major relationship milestone.

The hard part is that someone has to say it first. Saying it at the same time is a cop-out, even if both the partners mean it.

A recent article from ‘Psychology Today’ pulls together loads of studies into the psychology behind why people say it, what it means to be the first to say it and why it’s better to sometimes wait before pulling the trigger… so to speak.


This video from Business Insider condensed all this information into an easy to digest format; this is what we learned about saying the big three words.

According to psychologists, what makes people hold back is the fear of the feeling not being reciprocated even if there’s evidence to suggest that your partner actually loves you.

It turns out that men are more likely to say the words first or some version of them. Frighteningly, some men say it after dating for such a few weeks… they really need to learn to chill.


So why is this? Maybe women just need more time to “assess a man’s value as a mate”? Men could also be using the power of the phrase as emotional manipulation; a means to an end, as it were…

There’s a lot of evidence to support this. Men are more likely to say “I love you” before having sex for the first time. Typical.

It contributes to the mutual building of trust but is a high risk/high reward and generally shitty tactic. Women pick up on this strategy, like women pick up on most things, more than guys realise.


That said, men also say it first because they’re programmed to think they’re supposed to take the lead.

Our advice is to just take it slow and err on the side of caution. The phrase has been given too much power and some guys are getting too desperate.