The first time you say “I love you” is an important step in any relationship. If you want to cherish that moment forever, and not cringe every time you remember it, it’s important to do it the right way.

A heartfelt declaration of love when you’re sharing an intimate moment with your boyfriend is the perfect way to do it. 

If you’re not ready for that, at least get familiar with worst ways to say “I love you” and make sure that you never make these blunders in your relationship.

In a Text or Email

You don’t have to hype saying those three little words, but you shouldn’t try to make it seem unimportant either. If you’ve decided that you’ll declare your love to your boyfriend before he does, one of the worst ways to say “I love you” is in a text or an email. You’ll waste time obsessing about his reaction and he might feel robbed of the chance to look into your eyes, kiss or make love to you after he hears them.

“I Think That I Love You”

One of the most cowardly ways to express your feelings, “I think that I love you” is for high school freshmen who have no idea what love really is. If you believe your feelings are deep enough to make this declaration to your man, don’t cheapen it by using a backdoor that allows you to take back the words later.

More: Worst Relationship Advice Ever!

During or Right After Sex

When you’re having sex, both you and your man are experiencing heightened levels of oxytocin, the love hormone. That’s why you’re more likely to blurt out stuff you don’t really mean during sex, and especially after orgasm. If you’re ready to profess your love, one of the worst ways to say “I love you” is between the sheets. Save it for an intimate non-sexual moment.

How To Say I Love You

In Public

Saying “I love you” for the first time in a public time is really limiting your options. Your man might be caught off guard and he won’t know how to react, or he might feel robbed of the chance to have a really affectionate reaction. It’s always better to say those three little words when it’s just the two of you and you’re not getting ready to walk out the door.

“I Love You... r Abs!”

Definitely one of the worst ways to say “I love you”, changing your mind about saying it mid-sentence is a huge blunder. Be prepared for the moment when you’re ready to profess your love and never, ever change it to “I love you... r car”!

See also: How NOT to Break Up with Someone

Around Family or Friends

If you man is very extrovert, this might not be a wrong way to go, but you should allow him to process taking the relationship to the next level before sharing it with people he cares about. What’s the worst thing that you could happen? He’s not ready to return the sentiment and you’ll end humiliated in front of your loved ones.

“Lovingly Yours”

Definitely one of the worst ways to say “I love you”, “Lovingly yours” might seem like a good idea because hand written notes are always romantic, but it’s not. If you really want to say it the right way, you will.

When To Say I Love You

Through a Song

Expressing your love through a song can be romantic, but you shouldn’t have any expectations from your man whether you play him the song or even sing it yourself on karaoke night. Trying to deliver the message through any other means than directly is still cowardly and can fall flat.

Over the Phone or Through Voicemail

You might think it’s romantic to leave him a voicemail that he can save for years, but in the end when you’re telling your boyfriend the three little words from a distance, you’re going for one of the worst ways to say “I love you”. He might return the sentiment, but if you give him a chance to be in the same room when you profess your love, you might end up a lot happier when it comes to his reaction.

“I Love Spending Time with You”

Marginally better than “I love when you touch me”, but still, not a great way to profess your love. All you can expect after that is “I love spending time with you too”.

With a Gift

Definitely one of the worst ways to say “I love you”, a bear holding an “I love you” sign or even worse, a pillowcase with the three words on it, is just cowardly and lame. It’s great for junior high, but if you really want share your feeling with your adult boyfriend, just look into his eyes and say it.