What a man or woman thinks when they hear ‘I love you’ depends on when the words are said.
Men don’t just say the words ‘I love you’ first, they think them first. Six weeks before women do, in fact. It’s a finding that goes against most people’s intuition. When asked, almost 85 per cent of people predict that women are the first to think they’re in love.
In 70 per cent of current relationships, it’s the men who first put their words where their thoughts are when the time comes to declare their love, the study published in 'The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology' found.
Researchers weighed up six US studies to work out whether it’s men or women who say those three little words first. The resounding answer was that it’s the men. So then the researchers wondered if the words 'I love you' mean something different to him and her.
Almost 89 per cent of people think women are happier than men to hear the words ‘I love you’. But how a man or woman feels about their partner’s love actually depends on whether they’ve had sex yet in the relationship, researchers found.
Men who hear ‘I love you’ in a pre-sex relationship feel a lot happier than women do. But that’s only true for men with short-term sex on the brain, not those looking for a committed long-term relationship. After a couple’s already had sex, women are a little happier than men to hear the words ‘I love you’.
What the words mean
‘I love you’ means different things to men and women, the studies showed.
Men are more likely to think that when a woman says she’s in love, it’s because she’s hoping for a committed relationship.
When a woman hears the words ‘I love you,’ there’s more of a chance she thinks her partner’s only looking for sex. So when it comes to early love confessions, women are less likely to be happy about them than men – a woman might think her partner’s just trying to get her into bed.
Related: Should Women Make the First Move?
How soon is too soon?
It’s okay to say ‘I love you’ about one month into a relationship, say men who haven’t had sex with their partners yet. That’s much sooner than for women, who feel that before two or three months of a pre-sex relationship have passed, it’s too early to say the words. But once the couple’s had sex, there’s no difference between what men and women think is too soon to say ‘I love you’.
Men may be happier to hear the words ‘I love you’ from their partners lips before they’ve had sex because it could mean they’ve got a good chance of sleeping with them, reasoned researchers, since only men with short-term sex on the brain are glad to hear ‘I love you’ before the couple’s had sex.
Men looking for short-term relationships might say they’re in love early on for the same reasons – to try to boost their chances of having sex. Women probably hold off longer to avoid the risk of choosing a partner who won’t stick around after sex, the researchers concluded.
Who says 'I love you' first in your experience? Him or her? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.