In 2018, we’re delaying saying those three little words…
We all remember that moment in Pride and Prejudice when Mr. Darcy says to Elizabeth Bennett: “I love you.” He blurts it out and mumbles his way through it.
And then she rejects him.
Regardless of whether or not you’re a Darcy fan, it’s a moment that breaks even the coldest of hearts. Because, in any shape or form, rejection hurts – especially if you’re really in love with someone.
Maybe that’s why in 2018 we’re delaying telling our significant other that we’re in love with them.
Recent research carried out by eharmony has found that we’re taking an average of 137 days to tell someone how we truly feel. Whereas back in 2014, it took us an average of 112 days, that’s almost a month faster.
Interestingly, it also differs depending on where you live. In Wales, people take on average 163 days (over five months), and in the north east of England lovers take 162 days (five months). In comparison, in Scotland people take 127 days (around four months) and in Yorkshire couples take about 138 days (four and half months). But in the south west of England, they’re the quickest with 114 days (three and half months).
And who’s taking the longest? Londoners. The city dwellers are taking their time by waiting 194 days (around six months) to utter those three little words.
But why are we delaying dropping the L-bomb?
“There is so much choice with dating these days and there are always other options,” Sara Davison, relationship coach, tells Stylist.co.uk. “It’s accepted as dating etiquette nowadays that we date more than one person at a time – which was never the case when I was in my twenties! So it takes longer to get to the point where you are monogamous – as you will date a few people and then when you find one you prefer, you will then move onto a more serious relationship.”
“There is also the fact that during the early days, you don’t want to put pressure on someone you like as it may push them away. They’ll probably have other options, so you have to tread carefully as not to scare them off into the arms of someone who is not putting any pressure on them to commit too soon.”
However, dating apps also have a part to play. According to a recent study, around a quarter of Britons still use a dating app while in a relationship.
“Dating apps means there is this constant ‘grass is greener’ syndrome,” explains Davison. “If someone doesn’t tick all your boxes then it’s easy to keep searching in the hope of finding someone who does.”
The researchers also found that over the course of our lives, people tend to fall in love with three different people. But when is the right time to tell someone that you love them?
“I told my boyfriend I loved him after we’d been dating for eight months – although we’d only had the ‘are we official’ conversation a month before. Actually, I didn’t tell him I loved him; I told him I ‘thought I might potentially be falling in love with him’, which feels like a perfect encapsulation of how my generation likes to hedge its bets when it comes to romance,” says Moya, 26.
“The thought of categorically confessing my love felt altogether too terrifying, so I watered it down to a statement of maybe-I-love-you-but-I-can-still-feasibly-retract-this-if-you-don’t-feel-the-same-way. Luckily, he said he loved me too. He actually said he’d been wanting to say it for a while, but was worried it was too soon. In retrospect, I find it hilarious that we were both so scared of saying how we actually felt.”
The thing is, you should tell someone when you feel like it’s right – even if it’s not reciprocated.
“I told an ex-boyfriend I loved him seven months into our relationship while on a romantic trip away,” says Stylist’s social media editor, Sarah Lakos. “I desperately wanted to hear it back. He wasn’t ready, and boy was that flight home awkward. Obviously, things didn’t work out. But that moment was a huge indicator that we were on a different page through much of that partnership.
“The key is to say it when you feel it, but also know that your partner may not be at the same place. Maybe afford them some time to catch up.”
She continued: “Ironically, my current partner and I met on eharmony. Six months into our relationship, my partner dropped the L-bomb (and I did, too). We’ll celebrate our four-year anniversary in November.”
Well, as they say: when you know, you know.