Saying “I love you” is nice. And we’re (usually) honest when we say it. But saying the words is just one way to express love. And sometimes all the other ways can mean even more. This list isn’t just for significant others. I’ve included ideas for families and friends also.
You might also be interested in “6 Things You Can Do to Strengthen Your Marriage Every Day.”
Here are 12 ways to show you love someone:
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1. Do something they would appreciate, something you’d not normally do. This is my #1 favorite and was my husband’s suggestions. This can take a variety of forms.
Ideas: For those you live with, it can be as simple as doing a chore they normally take care of. For those outside your immediate family, try buying them a cup of coffee and dropping it off for them.
2. Spend time with them. Time can allow you to express your love without saying a word.
Ideas: go on a date with your significant other. If money is a concern, get a cheap restaurant card at Restaurant.com or get a babysitter and spend some “Netflix and chill time.” For those not living with you, go visit them! Spend some time just sitting and talking.
3. Give the gift of an experience. This works for everyone!
Ideas: Plan a wine tasting, a trip to a movie they’ve wanted to see, to a local attraction that you might not have visited. Experiences last so much longer in our memories than gifts. (Did you know you can get cash back using Ebates if you go through them to buy tickets on Fandango?)
4. Put down the phone. Or iPad. Or computer. In my case, I have a tendency to yank out my computer and tip-tap away on this or that “little small thing” that needs done for work even when I’m on my yearly extended trips back home. And while I can’t completely unplug, I make an effort to set up actual work hours and leave the electronics out of all the rest of my visiting time. For those you spend a lot of time with, it can be easy to get in the habit of just checking your phone for this or that. And even if they don’t say something- this can be hurtful.
5. Express appreciation. Take some time and think of a genuine compliment. Something you actually admire them for. Or something you know they’re proud of that you also find impressive. Or think of a sacrifice they’ve made for you. Then express that admiration or appreciation.
I think my Mom was more touched by a single phone call I made to express appreciation for a single thing (it’s private between us) than for the 20 “regular” calls I had made in the couple of months before that.
6. Develop your own inside jokes. Okay, this is going to sound WEIRD. But my Dad, Mom, brother, and I have this funny thing where one of us lifts one leg in the air, puts their hands in the air, and goes “Caw!” (like a crow). No matter what, it causes us all to start laughing. My husband and I have our own little jokes and inside things.
Take time to cultivate these moments with people. Knowing they share something exclusive with someone else is a great way to be close to someone.
7. Give flowers to the women in your life. It can be your mom, your friend, you coworkers, your neighbor. My neighbor’s husband boat got extended (we’re military families) yet again. I impulsively bought some flowers at the store though I didn’t really know her and gave them to her. She started crying and hugging me and talking about “language of love” and how much it meant to her.
8. Send an encouraging or love note. I got these cute little coloring blessing cards that I color and then send. So I’m not only spending the time on coloring it for them, but they get a nice note when they’re not expecting it.
9. Make them something! Cook- if that’s your talent- or some other craft. Handmade gifts are often more appreciated than store-bought ones. And giving them outside of the usual obligatory holidays or birthdays means even more.
10. Support them as they pursue their goals. This can take the form of just listening to them talk, helping them plan, or showing support for their business (if they have one). I have friends who go out of their way to share my posts, like them on Facebook, etc.
11. Show gratitude. Acknowledge what they do or say and express appreciation.
12. Listen. If they’re talking, they want to be heard. Take the time to tune in and focus on what they’re saying. Love shows itself through silent actions as well as in words.