I think it’s great that you want to take that next step, but I think you’re right to be cautious. People scare easily, so saying “I love you” too early on could freak them out and send them running for the hills. On the flip side, if you act aloof for too long, then they’re going to think you’re just not that into them and they might decide to break things off. So, how to tell someone you love them? And how do you decide when they’re ready to hear it?
Good advice comes from one of the authors of Mens Fitness, Clare Austen. She recommends knowing a fair few facts about the person first (it’s hard to genuinely be in love with someone if you don’t know their middle name and what their family dynamics are like) and then not over thinking the situation. The majority of people care more about sincerity than they do any elaborate, overblown way of saying it.
In terms of how soon is too soon, the evidence is confusing. One study says that men are typically ready to say “I love you” six weeks before women, whilst another says that men find these three words harder to process than women.
In summary: We’re all freaked out about being the one who says it first. Just be brave and say it!