It can be exiting, yet nerve-wracking, to tell your girlfriend that you love her for the first time. By saying, “I love you,” you’re making yourself emotionally vulnerable, yet also opening yourself up to a deeper, more meaningful relationship. There are a few things to consider before declaring your love.

Make Sure It's Love

Telling your girlfriend that you love her shouldn’t be taken lightly. Prior to telling her that you love her, make sure that you truly know her and you have an awareness of how you really feel about her, suggests TwoOfUs.org in the article “When to Say ‘I Love You.’” Be careful not to confuse your feelings of physical desire or companionship with feelings of love. Signs that you are love-struck include an initial shyness, constant thoughts of your girlfriend and a lack of desire for anyone but her. Until you’re absolutely sure that you love her, hold off on telling her.

Think about Timing

Consider if it’s the right time in your relationship to tell your girlfriend that you love her. Think about the length of time that you’ve been together. If you say “I love you” too early in your relationship, your girlfriend may not yet return your feelings of love. You also risk the chance of scaring her off. Once you say the words, you can’t take them back. However, when you do say "I love you" for the first time, say it with the positive expectation that she feels the same way, suggests Sam Owen, a psychologist, in the article, "When to Say I Love You for the First Time."

Consider Your Intention

Think about why you want to tell her that you love her. Make sure you are telling her with the right intention. Your desire to tell her that you love her should be about her and the way you feel about her. Don't express your love for her as a means to hear it back or to ease your own insecurities. Don't say “I love you” in the hopes that you will get something that you want. For instance, don't tell her that you love her to encourage her to become physically intimate with you.

For Her Ears Only

Telling your girlfriend “I love you” for the first time is a special moment that should be done when you and she are alone. Don’t blurt it out at a party or among a group of friends. Telling her over a nice dinner or under the stars can add romance to this special occasion.