Feel like it’s difficult to show your feelings in subtle ways? Need some everyday ways to express affection? Does it seem like you can only love someone by showing them grand gestures?
You don’t have to chase someone down at the airport to say you love them. You don’t have to plan a dinner with a thousand roses to show your affection. The media absolutely dramatizes love. It promotes the idea that if you’re not utterly “in love” all the time, you don’t truly love your partner. Not only is this utterly false, but it’s skewing the concept of what a healthy relationship actually is.
Personally, I think it’s because they’re trying to appeal to the greatest common denominator. Almost everyone has experienced lust and maybe even passion. But how many people know deep, genuine, everyday love? You don’t need grand gestures of passion and infatuation to say “I Love You”. You can show your partner how much you love them with everyday notions. These small actions are not only more honest than “movie love”, but they will speak much louder than a single grand gesture.
10 Little Ways to Say “I Love You”
- Write Small Notes: When my boyfriend and I first started dating, I lived 5 minutes away from his job. When I was passing by, I’d leave him little notes on his car. One of them was actually stolen and put on another employee’s car once! Oops. But I always loved writing those notes as a simple, but meaningful sign of affection.
- Give Them Food & Beverage: They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well, I argue that the way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach. I absolutely love food. My boyfriend and I have stomachs that speak to one another even more than our hearts! Before we officially got together, I always found an excuse to talk to my boyfriend by bringing him his favorite coffee beverage. I tried to casually pass it off as “oh, I was at Starbucks and thought I’d pick this up for you.” Even though it was so obvious, it worked out for me in the end! I also love to cook dinner for my friends. Since we are (mostly) broke college students, it’s more affordable to eat at home. Plus I look forward to cooking their favorite meals. There’s something about cooking for someone that shows you interest in caring for them and their whole person.
- Let Them Sleep In: Last week, I was completely burnt out from the weekend. Backwards right? I worked more hours than usual, juggled plans with friends before they went back for the semester, had to prepare for my own semester, and fulfill a few family obligations. I finally had Tuesday off and looked forward to sleeping in a bit. When my boyfriend got ready for work that morning, he was meticulously quiet to make sure that I could sleep. He waited for me to send him a text that morning and followed up if I got to sleep in like I wanted. It felt so great that he prioritized me and my sleep! It was so simple, but meant so much to me. Now I just need to teach this to my kitten… 😉
- Just Say It: Now, this may seem obvious. But many of us have a difficult time expressing our emotions verbally. Telling your loved ones how much you appreciate, love, and care for them is simple and rare. When was the last time someone genuinely told you how incredibly amazing you are? A few words will go a long way.
- D0 Their (Least Favorite) Chores: There’s no secret about it in our household. My boyfriend hates doing dishes. I hate taking out the trash. He loves a vacuumed apartment. I love clean counters. If we had a busy weekend and didn’t finish all of our cleaning duties, I’ll quickly vacuum the apartment before he gets home from work. When he wakes up early, he’ll clean up all the counters so I can wake up to a clean kitchen. Those little gestures show how we know one another’s preferences as well as our willingness to give them to one another.
- Lay Out Their Clothes: If I know my boyfriend’s had a busy and stressful day, I like to lay out his casual clothes on the bed. When he comes home to change, they’re neatly placed there for him. It’s my subtle way of saying “You’re home now. Relax, unwind, and de-stress with me.” I might even leave a cute note on top of his clothes or have one of his favorite pick-me-ups to go with it!
- Give Them a Mini-Massage: Everyone loves a good massage! You don’t need to be an expert to give a pleasant one. To thank my boyfriend for cleaning up the apartment, washing the dreaded dishes, or just being plain awesome, I’ll surprise him with a mini-shoulder massage while we’re watching TV. Who doesn’t have extra tension in their shoulders? And maybe they can give you a hand massage in return. 🙂
- Show Spontaneous Physical Affection: My boyfriend is an expert on this one. While I wouldn’t consider physical affection one of my primary “love languages” (still need to actually read that book), he has a special talent for surprise kisses, hugs, and hand holding. Not only will you be expressing your affection, but you can improve your physical intimacy. I love a spontaneous hug while I’m doing dishes or a sweet kiss before we get out of the car. (Cue the disgusting couple affection. You’re welcome.)
- Take Care of Their Friends & Family: This is a huge one for me. My boyfriend always finds ways to do things for my friends. If we go out to dinner, he often pays for all of us (knowing we are broke college students). Even if they insist on paying their way, he finds a way to put that $10 bill back in their purse. My amazing reverse thief! He also takes care of my parents by helping them with miscellaneous housework and watching the family dog when we go out of town. Likewise, I try to help his parents by making baked goods and doing work outside now and again. I even managed to limb a few HUGE trees with my boyfriend for his parents. I was pretty sure I was going to die on that huge lift. But they appreciated our help so much! By taking care of your partner’s friends and family, you’re showing your ability to rise above yourself. These people are important to your loved one, so they’re important to you. And that really means the world.
- Give Them Me Time: One of my boyfriend’s friends went through a difficult break-up. There are many reasons this happened, but one time my boyfriend’s friend told me how his wife was angry because she wanted to go out. She didn’t want to be stuck at home taking care of the kids. He was frustrated because he was tired from work and needed to get out too. I hope this doesn’t sound too familiar to you! When he was telling me this, I asked him if she ever got to go out? She didn’t! No wonder she was frustrated! Everyone needs me time. Support your partner’s pursuit of time to themselves and encourage it. Likewise, they should do the same for you! A healthy relationship should empower you to be the best version of yourself. While it’s important to do things for your partner, sacrifice should be the basis of your relationship. You deserve to be your own independent person in your relationship.
Love isn’t made of grand gestures. It’s an everyday experience. Take a moment today to show you love for someone! And make sure that your loved ones are treating you with the affection and appreciation that you deserve. Because we all deserve a sense of love and belonging.
How do you show your partner you love them? How do you show your friends and family that you love them? What the sweetest small notion of love that you’ve received? Feel free to add to this list in the comments! It’s by no means comprehensive 🙂