When you start to feel a little nuts for someone new, your infatuation might start feeling a little like love. But that four-letter word is a big one, and you can do some serious damage if you start throwing it around before you’re sure you actually feel it. If you’re on the fence about telling him how much you love him, make sure you’ve experienced these important things together first.
- The oh-so-scary commitment talk If you two aren’t exclusive, what the hell are you doing telling this guy that you love him? Trying to rush ahead to the romantic proclamation is just pure BS. Before you even consider telling him that he’s the one, you need to figure out if he’s the one for someone else too. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if your heart ends up broken. You can’t love him if you can’t trust him or your connection.
- The first big argument Arguments are as healthy from time to time. It’s how couples air out their problems and get things off their chests. If you’re still in the “everything is perfect!” phase, there’s no way you should be calling this “love” anytime soon. Have your first really awful argument, survive it, then we’ll talk. This will be an illuminating experience as you’ll get to see how he communicates and if he has any conflict resolution skills.
- The “who TF is she?” phase Jealousy is never a good look. Still, it’s only natural that you’d feel a little envious when your new guy starts talking with a new (and undeniably attractive) female friend. You absolutely have to go through the jealousy phase so you can know how he feels about you. If you’re just one of many girls he’s dating, you might want to hold off on telling him you love him.
- Awkward, weird sex When you first get with a guy, it’s only natural that the sex will be fantastic. There’s something exciting about getting down and dirty with someone new, and for the first few weeks, that will usually be enough to get your juices flowing. Then, it’ll happen: you’ll have weird, awkward, unsatisfying sex. This is a milestone in itself. It’s how you deal with it and whether you discuss it or not that will determine whether you survive as a couple.
- The all-too-real sex talk Do you know what this guy likes in bed? I mean, do you really understand his darkest, dirtiest, kinkiest fantasies? If the answer is no, you’re not ready to call this thing “love” yet. You absolutely need to talk about what you want and expect in the bedroom. If you’re not honest enough to do that, something’s up.
- Meeting his besties (and vice versa) You really can judge a guy by his friends. Who he hangs out with on a day-to-day basis will have a serious impact on how he acts and thinks. If he’s best buds with a load of losers who don’t respect women, you can assume he’ll be the same way. At least a small part of him will agree with their BS.
More things to experience before you declare your love
- Going on a weekend getaway The first time you go away together, things can get a little tense. This will test you as a couple. If you’ve never spent more than 24 hours together, you might find this a little hard, and this is where you might find out that you’re not meant to be. The arguments that come up when you travel together for the first time are by no means insignificant — they’ll reveal a lot about where your relationship is headed.
- Attending a wedding together How does your new guy feel about commitment? Heading to a wedding together will throw up a whole load of issues. Suddenly, you will find yourself chatting about marriage, love, and children. It’s a whole lot to handle. But hey, it’s healthy. These are things you need to know.
- Basically living at each other’s place Every new couple finally reaches this stage: the one when you only go back to your own home to get fresh underwear. The one where you end up practically living at the other person’s house, though neither of you has admitted it yet. This is when you find out whether you could actually live together in the future. If the answer is a big fat yes, maybe it’s time to drop that little word on the guy.
- Spending the holidays with each other’s families This is a true test of patience and love for any couple, so if you can survive this together, you’re golden. This is when you really get to know the other person’s background, their dynamic with their parents/siblings/extended family, and what it’ll be like if you stay together long-term.
- Fantasizing about the future together There’s no way you can love a guy if you can’t envision spending years or even the rest of your life with him. Fantasizing about where you’ll be, the things you’ll do, the places you’ll go, and more is a normal part of a thriving relationship and the sign of a real connection. If you don’t experience this, you don’t love him, simple as that.
- Seeing one another at your worst It’s easy to think you love someone when all you’ve seen are their most charming qualities. It’s not until you see them down and out and still feel just as attracted to them and care about them just as much that you know what you have is real. Of course, the “worst” should only appear in small glimpses; if the majority of your relationship is more like a living nightmare, it should go without saying that you need to leave.