There are few moments in life more emotional than when someone tells you they love you. That can be a life-changing moment for both parties… or, if it’s not reciprocated, it can be an incredibly challenging interaction. Either way, it’s a truly monumental occasion.
But these words can be challenging to say. When you tell someone “I love you” for the first time, you are leaving yourself incredibly vulnerable. You are baring your heart, and you have no idea what the other person will say. What if they don’t say it back?
So there’s a good chance that it might take some time for a guy to tell you he loves you, even if he feels that he does. Even if he wants to say it. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be entirely in the dark. If you’re reading this article, chances are you already have some suspicions! There is a wide array of different signals you can look for that indicate he wants to say it.
So what do you look for? If you want him to say it, what do you do? If you don’t feel the same way, how do you respond? Just stay tuned, we’ll answer all these questions and more.
What to Look For
If a guy has realized he loves you, chances are he’ll start acting differently, even if he doesn’t say it out loud. There is a vast array of different changes—some very subtle, some less so—that you can look for that might tip you off.
One thing that could very likely change is his body language. Body language is a powerful communicative tool, and can even tell us some things that verbal communication simply can’t. Sometimes, people can tell you things through body language without even intending to, or realizing they are doing it.
So, what types of body language should you look for to let you know if he wants to say “I love you”?
He Leans in While You Talk
Leaning in while you talk is a sign that he’s paying full, undivided attention to what you have to say. That means his interest in you goes beyond the surface level. He cares about who you really are, on a deeper, more substantive level.
Similar concepts include when he strikes an open pose around you, points both his feet at you, and makes a lot of eye contact. All of these things are indicative of someone who is opening themselves up and focusing all their attention on you.
That could be a clear sign that he’s getting ready to say “I love you.”
He Holds Your Hand More
It may seem like a small thing, but it’s not. If he’s recently started holding your hand more, this could be a sign that he’s feeling more connected to you. A physical connection is often a reflection of emotional connection, and it even promotes additional feelings of attachment in both parties.
He Touches Your Face
Going a step further, touching your face is an incredibly intimate gesture. That is a sign that he is really comfortable with you, and feeling deeply connected on multiple levels. Increased non-sexual physical intimacy is a sign of a healthy, blossoming relationship. And who knows, he might even be touching your face when he finally says it!
He Gets More Romantic
It might seem obvious, but if a guy is getting more romantic with you, this can be a clear sign he’s building up to saying “I love you.” More romance is a reflection of a relationship getting deeper and stronger and presents more opportunities for both people to express their feelings and be vulnerable. What does it look like if he’s getting more romantic?
He Takes You Out on More Dates
When you first got together, maybe you spent a lot of your time just hanging out. Spending time together in group settings, in one of your homes, or some other casual setting. But if he suddenly starts taking you out on more and more romantic dates, this could very well be a sign that he wants to say I love you.
Romantic dates are a great time to say something significant. It’s just the two of you together, focused entirely on each other, with romance in the air. What better time could there be?
He Cooks You Dinner
That said, there’s more than one way to get romantic. It doesn’t have to be out at some fancy restaurant; sometimes, the most romantic dates take place right at home.
Cooking a meal from scratch can be an incredibly personal, intimate gesture. Preparing a good meal is hard work, but you’re worth it to him. And enjoying that meal together over candlelight is about as romantic as it gets. If he’s in love but doesn’t know how to say it, cooking you a meal is a clear way for him to express it.
He Buys You More Gifts
We all know that money doesn’t equal love. But for some guys who are newly in love and don’t know how to say it, it might be the best way he knows to express how he feels.
If he’s suddenly started giving you way more flowers and gifts, that’s a sign that his feelings for you are deepening, and this is the way he knows how to express it. Lots of bonus points if the gifts are particularly personal; this is a sign that he truly knows you, and he’s thinking about you when you’re not together.
He Changes the Way He Talks to or About You
Just because he’s not saying “I love you” directly doesn’t mean his words can’t tip you off to how he’s feeling. Changes in specific ways that he talks to you, or the way he talks about you to other people, can be a sign that he loves you and wants to say it.
He Talks You Up to His Friends or Family
One sign that a guy is in love with you is that he starts talking about you more with his friends and family. That can mean that he’s ready to take the relationship to another level and make you a fixture in his life.
On a similar note, if he starts taking you out with his friends, or to meet his family, that’s even more promising. That’s a sign that he views you as a part of his life now, and that he’s hoping you’re here to stay.
He Starts Saying “I Really Care About You”
Or “I really, really like you,” or any other variation. He might not be able to make the leap and say those three little words, so he settles on the next closest thing.
If a guy keeps telling you, more and more, how much you mean to him and how much he likes you, there’s a good chance he’s looking to move forward with a more serious relationship.
He Opens Up
Here is probably the most significant indicator there is. If he starts opening up about his feelings, that’s a clear sign that he’s thinking about you differently.
Sharing emotions, and being vulnerable, can be a challenging step to take. But it also means that he is ready to take things to another level. Some guys are more comfortable opening up than others, but either way, it’s not something you do when you’re hoping to keep things casual.
Opening up is a sign that he wants a real, mature relationship. People in healthy grown-up relationships talk to each other about everything. And they also tell each other “I love you.” The more you notice him opening up to you, the more likely it is that he’s getting ready to say it.
Why Won’t He Say It?
So, maybe he loves you. Perhaps he even really wants to say it. Then why won’t he?
Openly communicating our feelings, especially with those we care about the most, is extremely important. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to do.
There are several reasons he might not tell you he loves you, even when he wants to. But the two most significant factors go hand in hand.
Sharing one’s deepest emotions, even when it’s with someone you trust, is an exceedingly raw, vulnerable thing. You’re baring your heart and soul, and entrusting them to someone else. That can be a very intimidating prospect.
That is particularly true if this type of vulnerability and openness isn’t something he’s ever engaged in before. It will probably take him some time to be able to psych himself up enough to put himself out there.
You might have noticed that several of the signs listed above were about increasing vulnerability. If these are the ones you’ve seen, there’s a good chance he’s trying to get more comfortable doing things that make him uncomfortable.
Getting comfortable putting himself out there more and more, until he can reach the point where he’s ready to do the most vulnerable thing possible: telling another person that he loves them.
He Doesn’t Know How You’ll Respond
Directly linked to that is the fact that he might not know how you are going to respond. Of course, he knows you like him and that you care about him. But as I’m sure you know, there’s a big leap from like to love.
If he’s unsure if you feel the same way, this uncertainty could be a significant obstacle for him. That is particularly true if he’s been hurt before. He may be reluctant to put himself out there, knowing how devastating it would be if it’s not reciprocated.
So he’s not only being vulnerable, he’s putting himself at the risk of a crushing rejection. There’s quite a lot at stake for him here! It’s understandable, then, that he might be hesitant. There’s a big leap between feeling something and saying something so profoundly personal.
But you’re involved in this too! If he loves you, I’m sure you’d like to know. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help him be open about the way he feels.
What To Do To Help Him Say It
If he’s been showing you the signs that he wants to say I love you but hasn’t come out and said it yet, what do you do? The more you address the issues causing him to hesitate, the more willing he should be to communicate with you openly and honestly. So what does that entail?
Mirror His Signals
He’s been showing you with his actions that he might be thinking about saying “I love you.” One of the things you can do to make him feel more comfortable taking that step is to match those same actions. Use positive, inviting body language. Make romantic gestures. Reach out and hold his hand. Whatever subtle steps he’s taking to show you that he’s ready to move things forward, do the same.
When you mirror his signals, it communicates to him that you’re in the same place he is. Your vulnerability will make him more comfortable with being vulnerable. And your indications that you’re feeling all the same things he’s feeling will make him more confident to say what he wants to tell you.
Be Open With Him
It’s not all that complicated—the more open you are with him, the more comfortable he’ll be doing the same with you. Honesty and trust feed into each other. One of the best ways to earn trust is to be honest yourself, and this often leads to honesty in return.
So if you think he wants to say “I love you” but doesn’t know how one of the best things you can do is to increase your own communication and transparency. Talk to him more and more about how you feel, about specific things that you like about him, about what your relationship means to you, or anything else that comes to mind.
This increased openness on your part might just set the stage for the conversation in which he finally says those three little words. But beyond that, it establishes an excellent foundation for the rest of your relationship.
Effective communication is one of the most critical factors of any successful relationship. It helps you to understand and connect with each other, avoid unnecessary conflict, and effectively resolve any conflict that does occur. So, whether he says I love you tomorrow or six months from now, if you want this relationship to last, focusing on honest communication can only help!
Tell Him First!
I know, I know. But there’s no rule saying you have to wait! If you love him, and you believe he loves you, the fastest way to get him to say the words is to say them first.
It’s daunting, for all the reasons we’ve talked about already. You’re baring your soul and putting your emotions on the line. You’re laying it all out there and leaving it up to him. But what better way to set a standard of open communication than to be completely honest about the way you feel about him?
You can wait for him if you want, but even if he wants to say it, who knows how long it will take? Or, you can take things into your own hands! Telling him allows you to take control of your own destiny, be truthful with him and with yourself, and set the stage for the type of honest, no-games relationship that you want.
If he loves you and has wanted to say it, hearing it from you first is sure to prompt him to take that step.
How Do You Respond?
When he does finally say I love you, this is an incredibly powerful but delicate moment for everyone involved. Maybe you’ve known you loved him for some time now, or perhaps it didn’t become clear to you until he said it. Or, just maybe, you’re not on that same level yet (and that’s fine).
The way you respond sets the stage for the entire relationship that follows. If you love him back, it’s simple. Just tell him so and tell him how the moment makes you feel. And enjoy yourself! This is a moment that will only happen once over the course of your relationship, so take it all in.
If you’re not there yet, though, it’s anything but simple. He is going to be crushed, and there’s no way around it. But there are some things you can do to preserve his feelings, and if you’re interested, to preserve your relationship.
It goes mainly without saying but let him down as easily as you can! He is taking a considerable risk in being truthful about the depth of his feelings, and he is going to be hurt when he sees that you’re not on the same level yet, no matter what. But the specific way you respond will play a significant role in just how hurt he is.
You may not feel that you love him yet, but clearly, you do care about him, or else you wouldn’t be in a relationship with him. So be as gentle as you can.
All that said, the last thing you should do is tell him you love him if you don’t. I know you want to preserve his feelings, and hey, maybe you hope that you’ll get there soon enough, so what’s the harm in saying it a little early? The fact is, this is unfair to yourself and him as well. A healthy relationship will be based on trust and honesty and telling someone you love them when that’s not true couldn’t be farther.
I know you care about him, and you don’t want him to be hurt. But you don’t owe him anything for saying that he loves you. The only thing to do is to genuinely express where you really are. If you want to continue the relationship, this is the only way to do it. And it will serve you well in the long run.
Tell Him How You Do Feel
Maybe you don’t love him. But don’t just say so and leave it at that. Instead of focusing on something you don’t feel, turn the conversation towards the things that you do. It may not be love, but if the relationship has reached this point, surely it means something to you.
So, tell him, then, how much you care about him. Tell him the things you like him about him, tell him the things that make you excited to see him. Focus on the many positives of your relationship. That is the best way to let him down easy, and it helps both of you build toward a pattern of positive communication.
No matter what, all you can do is to be genuine and honest about how you feel. He loves you; you’re not there yet. That’s fine. Everyone moves at different speeds. And if you do come to truly love him someday, it will be so much more meaningful because of your honesty in this moment.
The Final Word
You’re in what should be one of the most exciting periods of your relationship. True love is beginning to blossom, and things are getting ready to go to an all-new level. But being honest about deep feelings doesn’t come naturally to everyone. So how do you know if a guy wants to tell you that he loves you?
While no two people are the same, there are specific signals you can look for that are clues that he might be thinking differently about you. Pay attention to shifts in his body language, or changes in the way he talks you up to other people. And definitely take note if he starts opening up to you more and more.
If you think he wants to say it, but can’t get over the hump, there are steps you can take to help him along. Odds are he’s uncomfortable being that vulnerable and is worried about how you will react. So, do what you can to assuage those concerns.
Mirror the signals he’s sending you, so he knows you’re on the same page as he is. And start opening up to him more and more. And if he still seems to be holding back, you can always take things into your own hands! If you love him, you don’t need to wait for him to say it first. You can always be the one to make that leap.