I don’t want to have to say it first

We chat at 1 p.m. This letter is dedicated to the 9,000 people who send "I love you" questions.

I've been dating this awesome guy for about seven months now. We've both met each other's friends and families, we've done holidays together, and we spend every weekend and some weeknights together. He is a great boyfriend and we really get along. I am definitely in love with him. The only problem is he hasn't said he loves me yet, and I just don't want to be the first one to say it. This is his longest relationship, so maybe he's just not sure what to do? I'm just not sure if he feels as deeply as I do, and I don't know what to do from here. I can't tell if this relationship is something to kill time until the summer or something he sees progressing. Help me, Meredith and readers.

– Is This Love

With all the letters we get about declarations of love, I'm starting to think people should have to disclose their "I love you" habits at the start of a relationship. Like, eight dates in, people should just reveal what the phrase means to them. Are they the kind of person who says "I love you" whenever they're smitten? Do they keep it to themselves until they're ready to commit for life? Do they fear those three words and withhold them until they get an ultimatum? It would be nice to know.

Your situation is less about the "I love you," and more about the future – whether your boyfriend is even thinking about where this relationship might go. Instead of being the first person to bring up a phrase that means too much and says too little, why don't you ask him what you really need to know? "At seven months, I'm really into this and hoping this works. Are you?”

I can't tell you how many people write in (and talk to me) about waiting for "I love you." As someone who has withheld the phrase in the past (sorry), I'll tell you that there are other ways to say it. I can't always get behind an "I love you," but I can explain what I want.

– Meredith

Readers? How important is saying it? Should she say it first?