How do I say “I love you” for the first time?

Reminder:

Did you just move in with a partner?

I'm looking to talk to people who moved in with someone right before this stay-at-home stuff started – the people who moved in with fall/winter/January leases and start dates. If that's you, can you email me at meredith.goldstein@globe.com with "love letters" in the subject line?

Dear Meredith,

Late last year, I delved into the world of online dating. Surprisingly, I met a wonderful woman. Yes, it was a shocker due to how much of a soul-sucking beast online courtship has been for me. I also met someone on Cape Cod, and anyone who has attempted finding love on Cape Cod understands it is a barren wasteland for a guy in his 30s seeking a soulmate who falls into his age group.

Over these last months, she and I have been ticking what I feel are all the necessary boxes. Going on multiple dates and building rapport, discovering shared interests, as well as simply enjoying time with each other. We've also defined the relationship – meaning we understand that we are exclusive. Everything is fantastic; she is amazing. However, I have a problem. I love her, and I am confident that I've fallen in love with her. This is causing me a great deal of angst. It is not the emotional dynamic that scares me. I have not seriously dated in years for professional and personal reasons. I feel like my comprehension of love now, as opposed to the past, has a much more serious feel.  Overall, I have two primary issues.

First, do you think it is too soon to say "I love you?" I suppose it is somewhat ridiculous to pose this question. I’ve looked into the subject, and the internet yields conflicting advice. The fear I have is that speaking those three words will be too much for her too soon. Even with this ever-present fear, I still want her to know how I feel. Unequivocally.

Second, if you feel I should say it,  how do you think the conversation should go down? No, I am not thinking about making it into a whole ordeal with champagne, etc., but I do not know if it should be casual. Let’s imagine I’m leaving her place and I just say "I love you." Or should it be a different setting? I truly do not know, and I definitely do not want to mess things up.

Any advice you could offer on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

– In love


I know I've said this many times before, but "I love you" at four months means something very different than "I love you" at five years ... or after 15 years of marriage and two months of quarantine. We put so much weight on those three words when they can mean 1,000 different things.

My advice is to say it when it feels right (yes, be casual), and then get specific. You're right, it might be an overwhelming sentiment to hear after just a few months, so explain what you mean. "I know it's early, but I am so grateful for this relationship. I hope it keeps going. You are so cool."

As for timing, just let it out when there’s romance – when she looks open to hearing nice words. Setting doesn't matter; we're pretty much always home now anyway, right? You're sharing good news, so try not to panic.

Also remember that you're still getting to know her, and maybe that's what needs to be said. "I love the way this is growing. I love discovering more about you. I love that I have you in my life."

Congrats, by the way. It all sounds pretty great.

– Meredith

Readers? I love you.