"I love you" might not seem like much to some, however, these three words, while short, small, and sweet, hold so much meaning and power. It can be hard navigating feelings, knowing when it's appropriate to use them, and often, we feel the sensation of love long before the words leave our lips for the first time.
Learning to say "I love you" without using the words is something that has been on my mind as of late, and with Valentines approaching, it felt like a good time to dig a little deeper. There can be feelings of obligation, thinking that if someone expresses themselves that you are supposed to say it back, understandable thought, however if someone tells you they love you, they most likely genuinely want to ensure that you know that. It can of course be uncomfortable to both say and hear for the first time. Often leaving us with an overwhelming sense of vulnerability. Opening one's self up to the possibility of hurt, disappointment, and sometimes even heartbreak.
For those who have been hurt in relationships in the past, it may be even more uncomfortable or leave you feeling more uneasy. It's okay, that's normal, it's your brain trying to avoid discomfort, hurt, and sadness, avoiding allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
Of course there are many ways to say "I love you" without so many words.
1. Pay attention - this is one way we can show love to our significant other, giving them our undivided, uninterrupted attention. Show up, listen, and let them know they are heard. Show them that you are listening, show them that they are heard, it costs nothing to be fully present and listen.
2. Thoughtful gestures - Perhaps you have heard, actions speak louder than words. Another way we can show someone we care for them or love them is simple, all it takes is small gestures. Opening doors, getting up early to make coffee or pack a lunch. Starting their car in the cold of winter so it's warm when they leave for work. It can be as simple as a text to let them know that you are thinking about them, expressing appreciation, picking up their favorite drink or snack just because. These little gestures may not seem like much, however they can go a long way.
3. Go out of your way, do something that you know the other person would rather not have to deal with or do. Empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, make dinner, run an errand for them. Think about how it would make you feel, if your partner went out of their way to drive through a New England blizzard just to see you. Knowing they may not want to, it could be a hard drive, but nonetheless, they showed up, and went out of their way to see you. They do it to bring you joy, to make you happy, that's love.
4. Help out where you can, daily chores and responsibilities can be monotonous, they become mundane, and sometimes that simple task of helping without being asked can go a long way. Doing the laundry (yes, folding it too,) making the bed, taking the trash out, vacuuming, whatever it may be, it can go a long way. Little acts, kind acts, thoughtful acts, that help the other person out, without being asked or expected to do so. Helping others is a way of showing appreciation.
5. Say "Thank You," yes, these two words also have power. We all like to feel appreciated. When your partner does something nice for you, goes out of their way for you, performs a random act of kindness, helps out, whatever it may be, a simple, yet meaningful "thank you" goes a long way.
6. Make your relationship a priority. You're busy, he's busy, she's busy, I'm busy, we are all busy. None of us are too busy to shoot over a quick text letting the other person know "Thinking of you.." a heart emoji, an "xoxo" or "have a grate day." Calling just because, texting just because, these little things matter a lot, sometimes more than the big things.
7. Going off the last one, how about quality time, this also means giving the other person your undivided attention and being fully present in the moment. It is also one of the love languages, which focuses on sharing both thoughts and feelings together. It's not about how much time you spend on it, or what you do, it's about being together and giving one another your full attention.
8. Compromise where you can, we can't all agree on everything 100% of the time, it's not realistic. Compromise is key, and can help relationships, it can also help prevent or reduce the frequency of unnecessary arguments.
9. Give space. We all need our own space and time to recharge. If she want's to go to a vintage market with friends, if he want's to go for a peaceful solo run, space to just sit alone in the living room scrolling social media, playing a video game, watching re-runs, whatever it is, we all need a little alone time every now and again. Don't resent each other, rather allow it to help build your foundation, making you a stronger, more trusting, balanced, happy couple. It speaks volumes and shows that you trust and respect one another, you care for each other's mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing as a person, as an individual, and that's important.
10. Let them know that you don't need them, rather, you want them. You want them in your life, you want them to be your partner in crime, the PB to your Jelly. You can survive on your own, but you want to be with them, physically, mentally, emotionally. Let them know if they make your smile a little bigger, laugh a little louder, how much you enjoy and appreciate their company even when you might be doing nothing.