Love Race: Which U.S. states say “I love you” first?

As a relationship progresses, you encounter an array of pivotal milestones, from that memorable first date to the slightly nerve-wracking meet-the-family stage. Amid these moments, a trio of words, “I love you,” hangs in the air, often eagerly anticipated by both.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we surveyed 3,000 Americans to reveal which states are swift in professing “I love you” and which ones take their sweet time. We also unravel which parts of the nation like to take the lead in expressing affection, and which prefer to wait for their partner to say it first. 

Key findings:

  • On average, the typical American takes about 4 months to say ‘I love you’

  • Those from Hawaii, West Virginia, and Iowa express their love in just 2 months

  • New Mexico sets the record for the longest wait at 9 months

  • 72% of Americans are more than willing to take the initiative and be the first to say “I love you”

Love Timelines: How many months each state takes to voice their feelings

If you are in the early stages of a relationship and wondering when your significant other is going to mutter those three words, well look no further as we’ve got the scoop! With 94% of our respondents confessing to having been in love, we dug into the data to uncover how the romantic declaration plays out across the U.S.

US States In Love

Rest assured, the average American doesn't waste time—typically, it only takes about 4 months on average from the first date to voice their love to their partner. This sentiment holds true for 17 states, among them New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, all concurring on this timeline for professing affection.

Those based in Hawaii, West Virginia, and Iowa seem to be on a fast track when it comes to love—it takes a mere 2 months before “I love you” rolls off the tongue. Arkansas and Oklahoma aren't lagging either, hitting that milestone in just 3 months.

So, love really is in the air. Well, that’s certainly true for some states, for others it’s more on the horizon. Turns out, some areas of the nation are slower to drop the L-bomb than others. For example, states such as Florida, Illinois, and California take a little longer to confess at 5 months.

For those hailing from New Mexico, mastering the art of patience seems to be the name of the game. They tend to bide their time, waiting a whopping 9 months on average before finally making the leap into saying "I love you." The lengthiest wait among all the states in America. Similarly, in Washington DC, the pace is unhurried, averaging about 7 months before embracing those special words. After all, why rush when it comes to matters of the heart?

From First Flutter to First Words: How long it takes

Surprisingly, it takes around 2 months for Americans to muster up the courage from falling in love to actually saying the words. This suggests that, on average, Americans begin to feel love around the 2-month mark in a relationship and articulate it about 2 months afterward, reaching that significant 4-month milestone.

States like Connecticut and New Hampshire, take up to 4 months from when they first develop their feelings to expressing it. Contrastingly, in states such as Pennsylvania, Kansas, and Washington, there's a stroke of confidence. Regardless of how long it takes to initially fall in love, once they do, it merely takes a month to transform those emotions into spoken words. As they say, when you know, you just know!

Who takes the plunge first?

Americans aren't necessarily waiting for their significant other to make the first move when it comes to saying "I love you." In fact, a whopping 72% of Americans revealed they'd be more than happy to take the plunge and say it first.

Washington and Alabama stand out, boasting the highest percentage of individuals ready to initiate the declaration (85%). On the flip side, Washington DC prefers their partner to take the lead, with only 43% expressing their willingness to make the first move. So, folks from D.C. might want to take note, or you could find yourselves in a never-ending love standoff! 


Our dive into love declarations across the U.S. revealed a real mixed bag. Some states are quick with the "I love you's". Meanwhile, others are all about taking it slow and steady. That being said, the majority of states share a common sentiment—they're eager to take the lead in expressing affection.

Methodology: surveyed 3,000 Americans on how long it takes them to fall in love. We noted their state of residence so we were able to use this to divide the data. The age range was 18+ with all participants living in the United States. The survey was conducted in January 2024.

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