Hoda explained to guest co-host Maria Shriver on Tuesday that she once made a list of qualities she hoped to have in a partner, such as kindness and sincerity.
"I started to think I didn't know what I was looking for in a man," Hoda said. "Sometimes you think, 'Well, you'll know it when you see it, and there'll be chemistry,' and you hope everything else will work."
Hoda reflected on when Joel once looked at her and "spoke about love."
She then explained, "I always get emotional if someone's truthful, really truthful, and I feel it. And I remember he looked me in the eyes, and I started crying."
"What did he say?" Maria asked.
"It was the day he said that he was in love with me," Hoda replied, choking up. "It was a good day."
This wasn't the first time Hoda's discussed that special moment with Joel.
“He was the first person to say ‘I love you,’ and I remember him saying it to me,” Hoda recalled on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna earlier in September. "And after he said it, I remember just sitting there because I wanted to feel it for a minute.”
“Like, just to sit with that for a minute — somebody saying, you know, he just said, ‘I love you,’” she continued. “And I paused, and he goes, ‘Don’t leave me hanging out here in the abyss,’” she said.
The 55-year-old fourth hour co-host explained that for Joel, whom she’s been with for six years, uttering those three words was an act of courage because he really put himself out there.
“He goes, ‘Please,’ and I told him I loved him, too, but I remember thinking to be the first person to say it is risky and that takes guts,” she said. “And it’s easy to be the one who says, ‘I love you, too,’ and I will always admire him because he has guts.”
When he told her, she knew that she loved him, too, but needed some time to process the enormity of it.
“Sometimes, you want a moment to wash over you. I think a lot of moments were, like, he said it, I say it, ‘cause I’m a pleaser,” Hoda explained. “So I’m, like, I don’t want him to feel bad, but in that moment I just wanted to …,” she said, without finishing the thought.