Are you one of those people who can easily say the words “I love you?” Or is it more difficult for you to express yourself?
Either way, telling people you love them is one of the most important—yet oftentimes neglected—things you’ll have to do in life.
However, saying these three little words can both be easy and complicated.
Lucky for you, there are hundreds of ways to say “I love you.” In this guide, we’ll dive deeply into the mechanics of expressing love and how to tell someone you love them in different ways.
The importance of saying “I love you,” according to science
Why is it so important to tell people you love them?
There are a bunch of reasons why expressing love is a good thing all around, and it’s all backed by science.
- It’s contagious. Neuroscience suggests that expressing love and gratefulness creates a positive chain reaction. When you’re more expressive of your emotions, it makes people love and appreciate you more.
- It builds longer-lasting relationships. Another neuroscientific study implies that couples who are more expressive and engaging with each other build healthier and more lasting relationships.
- You become more loving. When you give your love freely, it comes back to you tenfold. Research suggests that when you’re mindful and compassionate with your love, your brain literally rewires to become more positive and loving.
- It makes you healthier. There’s countless of research proving that expressing and sustaining love in our lives makes us live longer and healthier.
- It increases trust and intimacy. Saying I love you when you mean it is one of the most powerful declarations of love. That’s why it increases intimacy and builds trust in a relationship.
Why it’s sometimes hard to say “I love you”
It’s simple, really. It’s even understandable.
We have a hard time saying “I love you” because we’re afraid of being vulnerable. When we express love, what we ultimately do is expose ourselves to rejection and pain.
What’s worse is that modern relationships are not exactly as straightforward as they used to be. Nowadays, people aren’t even sure if they’re in a relationship or not.
All of this does not exactly encourage expressiveness.
So what happened?
We protect ourselves with ambiguity. If we don’t tell people we love them, we’re safe. It’s a defense mechanism and a way to establish control.
University of Denver psychology professor Scott Stanly explains:
“I think the ambiguity is motivated. Simply put, If I don’t make it really clear what I want, I cannot be rejected as deeply. Ambiguity feels protective.”
You might be having a hard time expressing your love simply because you’re afraid of rejection.
Things get complicated when you create expectations. So just stop expecting anything. Don’t tell someone you love them because you want a response.
Just say it because it’s true. Say it because it’s how you feel.
Vulnerability isn’t a weakness. In a world of suppressed emotions, it’s an act of rebellion. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a strength.
Author and research professor Brené Brown sums it up perfectly when she says:
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
So the next time you stop yourself from saying the words “I love you,” remember that expressing love is a courageous act.
When to say “I love you”
You might also be asking, “When should you I tell someone I love them?”
You’re right to wonder. As it happens, timing is everything when you’re declaring your love for someone.
According to philosophy professor Aaron Ben-Zeév:
“Romantic love expresses our genuine attitudes. Revealing our loving heart to a partner is immeasurably valuable for communication and personal flourishing. However, such self-disclosure makes you more vulnerable and may put your partner in an uncomfortable situation, especially if his or her attitude is different from yours.”
If you tell someone you love them when you’ve only known them for a short while, you can come off as ingenuine or lying. If you tell them too late, they might think you don’t love them at all.
More importantly, you shouldn’t feel pressured to say these three words if you’re not truly in love with someone.
So when’s the right time?
First, you should always make sure that your feelings are genuine. When you truly love someone, there should be very little doubt that you do. This is not something you can take back. Besides, it’s kinder for everyone involved.
Second, don’t rush. Genuine love takes time. Attraction is instant. Infatuation can happen in mere days. But real love has to develop and grow.
“What’s important in long-term love is not timing, which refers to a specific temporal point, but time. Time has a wider reference, including duration, frequency, and development.”
I think that when it comes down to it, you’ll just know when the right time comes. Love is something that ultimately comes naturally to us. When we take our walls off and simply let love be, it becomes more simple.
No instruction manual will be able to tell you exactly the right time and place to tell someone you love them. It’s something that happens naturally when real love is there.
How to tell “I love you,” in ways that count
Now that we’ve got everything covered, let’s get to the main topic. How do you say “I love you?”
There are two ways to show love—with words and with actions. A lot of people say that actions speak louder than words. But that’s not exactly correct.
Words are just as important as actions. Every one of us has a “language of love,” a way in which we feel, express and value love. Some of us feel loved when we are told so. While some us feel valued when it is delivered through actions.
Here’s how to express love in both ways:
99 ways to tell “I love you” with words
If “I love you” isn’t cutting it out for you, there are hundreds of ways to verbally express your love. Here are 99 ways to tell someone you love them with words.
- I adore you.
- You’re the one for me.
- I value you.
- I want you in my life.
- I’m crazy about you.
- I cherish you.
- I’ve fallen for you.
- I’m head-over-heels for you.
- You’re the love of my life.
- I want to spend the rest of my life with you.
- I’m yours.
- You’re my everything.
- You complete me.
- I’m always drawn to you.
- I can’t keep you off my mind.
- You’re the one thing that’s been missing in my life.
- I’m completely smitten with you.
- I just can’t stop thinking about you.
- I love you with my whole being.
- You make me whole.
- You make me a better person.
- I never want to be apart from you.
- You make my life worth living.
- You’re the one thing I’ve been looking for.
- You make my world a better place.
- I want you. Only you. Forever.
- I can imagine spending the rest of my life with you.
- If I can fall in love with you over and over again, I would.
- You got me good.
- I’ve never felt this strongly about anyone else before.
- You make me look at the world in a better way.
- Everything you do makes me fall more in love with you.
- You are the light of my life.
- I can’t imagine life without you.
- You made me the happiest I have ever been.
- I love you to the moon and back.
- My love for you can never fade.
- You’ve touched my heart in ways I can’t describe.
- I love you more than words can ever express.
- You make everything seem possible to me.
- As long as I have you, I can achieve anything.
- I am here for you, as long as you need me.
- You mean so much to me.
- I am irrevocably, completely, and wholeheartedly in love with you.
- I’ve got more than a crush on you.
- You give me butterflies.
- You are the most incredible person I ever knew.
- I’m completely out of breath for you.
- You are my everything.
- Life doesn’t exist without you.
- I will be so lost without you by my side.
- You always make my heart skip a beat.
- You are my sunshine.
- You’re the most perfect thing I’ve ever seen
- You light up my days.
- You are the best thing that has ever happened to me.
- I’m mad about you.
- My love for you is unconditional.
- There is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you.
- You are the reason my life is worth living.
- I am thankful I have you in my life.
- Without you, life doesn’t have meaning.
- You are my one absolute treasure.
- You are precious to me.
- I am completely devoted to you.
- I will do everything I can to make you happy.
- A lifetime with you isn’t enough.
- I am enamored with you.
- I love being around you.
- You are intoxicating.
- I can’t ever have enough of you.
- I feel so passionately about you.
- You’ve managed to completely steal my heart.
- I’m completely under your spell.
- My heart aches for you.
- I yearn for you every minute of every day.
- You’re my dream.
- You’re captivating.
- There’s no other person like you.
- You bring nothing but joy in my life.
- You give me the strength to go on.
- We’re so good together.
- You’re the miracle I didn’t know I was wishing for.
- You’ve chased the darkness in my life away.
- You make me want to be a better version of myself.
- I love you with my whole soul.
- I think about you all the time.
- You’re the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thought before I fall asleep.
- Every day, I watch you and be amazed how lucky I am to have you love me.
- Everything you do for me makes my life better.
- You are my soulmate
- Every time I wake up, I feel so grateful to be able to spend another day with you.
- Everything that has ever happened to me has led me directly to you.
- I feel like I was always meant to meet you.
- You are the best boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife I could have ever hoped for.
- You leave me breathless.
- I know I can do anything, be anything, as long as I have you by my side.
- You’re my rock.
- You feel like home to me.
7 ways to express love through actions
Words are beautiful and reaffirming. But without action, words don’t weigh a thing.
You don’t have to be a casanova to make someone feel adored. It’s actually the small things that are the most meaningful.
Clinical psychologist Marni Amsellem explains:
“There are countless things you can give and you can do in your relationship on a daily basis to convey how much you appreciate your loved one. These actions are actually quite small, but communicate so much. In the end, these are what fuels the health of the relationship. And, as a bonus, these behaviors do not necessarily involve a month’s salary.”
Here’s how you can express your love, through actions, in big and small ways:
1. Try to give more than you take.
Love should be unconditional. Yet some of us expect to get more from love than we are actually willing to give.
We find ourselves counting how much we do for the people we love. And it always seems to fall short.
The next time you do something for someone, do it simply because you want to make them feel loved.
2. Love them for who they are…
not for who you want them to be.
We all have expectations of love. We dream of the “perfect” person, with a list of everything that it should be.
But love is not something you can shape to your own expectations. Trying to force someone to live up to your expectations only hurt them and devalue them.
So always make them feel like they’re enough just the way they are.
3. Try to look at the world in their eyes.
Conflict happens when empathy doesn’t exist in a relationship. One way to express and nurture love is to try and understand your partner’s point of view.
According to psychotherapist Cindy Sigal:
“Empathy bridges the divide between being separate individuals with different backgrounds, feelings and perspectives.”
Nothing makes a person seen and valued more than when someone tries to understand the world through their own eyes.
4. Do small things that help them.
Brew them their morning coffee. Offer to wash the dishes. Treat them to their favorite restaurant.
We oftentimes equate deep love with big gestures. But it’s always the smallest acts of service that mean the most.
It’s the ways someone wants to make your life easier that makes us feel the most loved. All it takes is a little consciousness to try to do the little things for the people we love.
5. Show appreciation.
When we’ve been with someone long enough, we sometimes take the things they do to us for granted. So keep reminding yourself to appreciate the things people do to take care of us or make us happy.
You don’t have to say it in so many words. It can be something as small as asking for an extra helping when they cook for you or giving them a big hug when they go the extra mile to express their love.
6. Pay attention.
When was the last time you noticed the way they eat? Or paid attention to the things they like?
It’s easy to forget to pay attention to someone you love, especially if you feel like you know them completely.
But love isn’t something you can just neglect. You don’t have to give them attention 24 hours a day—just when it counts.
A study published in the Personal Relationships journal shows that simply practicing small expressions of gratitude every day can have a boosting effect on your relationships.
7. Flirt with them.
According to research, the honeymoon phase only lasts from 12 to 24 months.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, says certified counselor Jonathan Bennet:
“Although it sounds negative, the ending of the honeymoon phase can be positive. It allows you to both see each other openly and honestly and decide if the relationship is worth continuing. In addition, you can prolong the passion and happiness; it just takes more work. If you’re dating a great person, [they] should be more than willing to put in that effort!”
So just because you’ve been with someone for a long time, doesn’t mean you stop flirting and rediscovering your love for each other.
“There is no need to say: Love, I love you. Let your whole being say it. If you love, it will say it, words are not needed at all. The way that you say it will express it; the way that you move will express it; the way that you look will express it. Your whole being will express it.”
– Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
Ideally, expressing love should come as naturally as breathing. But we all have the human tendency to keep our hearts safe. If you’re having trouble showing your love and appreciation to someone, try to remember that the most beautiful experiences we have in life happen when we open ourselves up to it.
Starting now, don’t hesitate to tell someone you love them. It will make your life so much more meaningful.