Method One: Romantic Love
Define love. The sincerity of the phrase is strengthened by knowing what love is, and what loving someone means to you. Determine the difference between love, infatuation and lust, and make sure it’s genuine love that you feel for this person.
Feel it. There will come a point when you know what you feel for your boyfriend or girlfriend had moved from friendship, to like, through infatuation, and into romantic love. When you’re sure you’ve crossed that threshold, that’s the time to express your feelings. If you say it because you think you should, or because it’s expected—and you’re not there yet—it will come across as insincere.
Make eye contact. Making eye contact not only shows sincerity and communicates trust, it’s a delight to look into your partner’s eyes when you first say «I love you.» It will be a moment you will both always remember. Even though there are probably a few inches between your faces, it should feel like there is nothing between yourselves, not even air.
Holding hands as you tell them you love them can also communicate sincerity and trust.
Say it at an appropriate time. Time the statement in a way that will make both you and the recipient most comfortable.
If you’re in a private place and there’s not much background noise, keep your volume low; don’t whisper unless you bring your lips to his or her ear, which can also be a very intimate way to express your love.
If you want to tell your partner how you feel when you’re in a public place, it’s up to you whether you want to pull the person aside, or say it in front of friends or even strangers. It depends on your loved one’s personality, and your own personality. Some will find it terribly romantic to be told they’re loved across a room full of people; others may find it mortifying.
Say it without expecting anything in return. It is nerve-wracking to tell someone that you love them if you’re going to wait anxiously for their response. If you truly feel it, then say it with no expectations of a response. Your intention can be to tell the person how you feel, with the hope of making them happy and showing them that they are valued. So say what you feel, and if they love you, too, they’ll let you know in their own way and in their own time.
Be creative. Say «I love you» in another language. Write it into a poem or even a haiku. If you want to be romantic, spell it out with rose petals on the bedroom floor. Write it in code, like a Vigenere cipher. Say it in little ways, like post-it notes in unexpected places, and express it in every way you can.
Back up your words. Don’t just say it, show them that you really do love them. Saying «I love you» without showing it is, in a way, a lie. Express your love in action as well as in words.
Method Two: Familial Love
Tell your family. Sometimes, it gets taken for granted that we love our parents, or our siblings, and though they’re really important to us, we simply don’t use «those words» in normal conversation. If that’s how you were raised, get over it! Whether or not your family is comfortable expressing their love for each other, be the ice breaker and tell them.
You can tell them during an event—a wedding dinner, Thanksgiving, or just a family dinner. Raise a glass and say something like «You’re my family, and I love you all.»
You can tell them in private, in an unguarded moment. For example, surfing the web for the latest Lolcats hilarity, give your Dad a hug and tell him you love him. It doesn’t have to be all gooey and sentimental—just a statement of fact.
Say «I love you, man.» Sure, it’s a goofy beer commercial tagline, but the idea is right. For some, saying this is a cultural taboo that is hard to overcome—especially for guys. But the fact is, good friends are like the family we choose, and every now and then, it’s a good thing to tell the people that matter to you that you love them. This is true whether they’re the same sex or not. Just keep in mind that this is not about romance and sex, this is about friendship.
For example, he’s been your best friend since high school. He was there when that boy broke your heart, you were there for him when she went off to college in another country and ended the relationship. You’ve talked about going beyond friendship, but decided that’s not how you felt about each other. You’ve celebrated milestones together, and even though you live in separate states, you keep in touch regularly. Next time you see him, if you haven’t already, say something like «Danny, you’re such a great friend. I totally love you!» Chances are, Danny feels the same way.
Another example is «the buds.» Both of you guys were on the team together, and have always had a friendly rivalry. You’ve been there for each other through thick and thin. He’s your best bud, and you love him like a brother. After celebrating an event, or when thanking him for something he’s done, just say it casually: «I love you, bro.» Then punch him in the arm if you feel too awkward!
Your BFF is another person to tell. You two have shared secrets, shared crushes, go to parties together, and cry on each other’s shoulders. Even when you lived in different countries, you Skype at least once a week, and you’d be lost without her. Just say «I love you sooooooo much, Buttercup,» or whatever you like to call each other. She’ll say it right back.
Method Three: Unconditional Love
There are no rules. Unconditional love is best exemplified by what we usually feel for our children. There is, perhaps, nothing more wonderful than the love we have for them, especially when they are babies. We expect nothing in return, and delight in just seeing them smile. As they grow, they’ll challenge us, make us proud, disappoint us, grow, and make mistakes, but we love them regardless.
Another example of unconditional love is how your dog loves you, engendering the statement, «I strive to be the person my dog thinks I am.»
Do not use the words «I love you» to cover up something you did wrong, or to resolve a conflict. Learn to apologize.
Don’t overdo it, your loved one can get bored or feel as if it means nothing to you. Say it to your loved one when the time is right.
Make it special. For many people, dropping the «L-word» allows the sentiment to be expressed casually, such as before separating (e.g. «Time to go. Bye! Love you!»). Using the full phrase, however, can be reserved for more intimate moments, especially during a special event, such as when a child is just born, to reassure someone when bad news has been received, or during moments of cherished intimacy, like after a kiss.
The words «I love you» can lose their meaning in a relationship if not paired with action.
Saying «I love you» in the heat of passion for the first time might not be a good idea, as the person may question the sincerity of your pledge. Follow them up with actions of kindness.
If your interest is not in the other person, but rather in how that person can enhance your experience of life, then it is not love. If you have no intention of improving that person’s life, or allowing that person to be themselves and accepting them as they are, rather than not who you want them to be, then you are not striving to love them.
Love is expressed differently by everyone. Be understanding and look for your partner’s ways of expressing it to you; they may not be the same as what you do or what you want him or her to do, but in turn you may not be doing the things he or she wants.
If you already said «I love you» and didn’t mean it, and now you think the time is right, say it in a very unforgettable way. They will notice the difference from the first time to the second time.
If love is unrequited, you need to be understanding and be caring towards the feelings of the object of your desire. At least they now know how you feel.
When you say I love you for the first time don’t say it over text or the phone. It’s less personal and meaningful. In addition don’t ask «do you love me?».
Be somewhere alone. Just let it out.
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