In terms of relationship landmarks, dropping the first “I love you” is pretty much up there with sharing your fancy olive oil and letting them store their books at your place. It’s something you and your partner will remember, potentially forever, even if you break up, so it’s fair to say there is a certain weight behind those three magic words.

Nobody can tell you when the best time to say it is, or when you’re going to feel ready to. It comes from the heart, and as much as your brain will try and make sense of it, overthinking it will leave you waiting for a perfect moment that might never happen. That being said, whether it’s the first or the last time, there are instances where it’s in everybody’s best interests for you to keep the love cat in the emotional sack.

On Valentine’s Day

No matter how above-it-all and jaded we pretend to be about Valentine’s Day, secretly we’re all suckers for the sappy romance of it all. Because of that, we also fall victim to the associated pressure, despite telling ourselves that it’s just a day like any other and it’s silly to make a huge life decision just because it’s a holiday that involves a card.

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If you truly feel you’re ready for it, don’t let how obvious the occasion is deter you, but likewise don’t get swept up in all the hearts and cuddly bears and make a rushed decision. Your love is yours to give, not Cupid’s to extract because it was his birthday a million years ago (or whatever that guy’s deal is). Have fun, be romantic, and stay honest about your feelings.

When you feel like you’re losing them

If you’ve ever felt the painful, heart-wrenching tug of growing apart from a partner, you will know how easy it can be to reach for anything you feel might help the situation. Trying to re-ignite a spark is difficult, it requires an awful lot of introspection and often requires facing some difficult truths, so it’s understandable why someone would choose an easier path.

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When you experience the existential anxiety spiral that often accompanies the end of a relationship, it’s worth considering why it’s happening in the first place rather than doubling down on the commitment. Whatever issues you have are only going to resurface once the endorphin rush of love dies down a little and the cracks start to show.

Because they said it first

For all the consideration and second-guessing that goes into the confession, there is just as much put into the one hearing it. Not only do they now have to grapple with their feelings in an intense moment, but all of that uncertainty is dropped on them at once, in a seemingly time-sensitive scenario. It could also come as a complete surprise to them, depending on how good feelings are communicated.

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If you’re both on the same page, you’ll know, but the reason hesitation is considered a rejection is because, most often, it is in a sense. You don’t have to love them right now to continue being with them, even if that seems awkward. The relationship will be healthier if you have an uncomfortable conversation about how you aren’t there yet, rather than feeling in any way pressured to be in love with your partner before you’re ready.

While intoxicated

Life is stressful, dating is stressful, love is stressful, and white wine is delicious. Alcohol, being an addictive poison that makes you more open, honest, and annoying, plays an upsettingly common role in undue and impromptu romantic confessions, and it goes about as well as you think it does. A few drinks can make a conversation flow, but past a point the inebriation makes you feel things that just aren’t grounded in reality.

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Love is a crucial part of being human, and it deserves to be taken seriously. You wouldn’t commit to moving house while drunk, and relationships can last longer than a tenancy agreement. Save the celebrations until after the talk, and at that point you’ll know whether or not you’re sharing the bottle. In either case, it’s worth keeping a clear head, there are lessons to be learned so you will want to remember the details.