Sometimes we feel as though we have to show our love and adoration for someone via grand gestures. But, really, it’s the small affirmations that count. There are so many simple ways to show affection to your partner, and sometimes they can mean more than any gift or expensive display of love. No matter what your love language, showing affection is an important part of any healthy relationship.
As dating expert Celia Schweyer of DatingRelationshipsAdvice.com tells us:
Here are a few small ways you can express your admiration and affection to your partner, which in turn will strengthen your relationship and show that you care.
Make a point to really listen to them. Whether you’re talking about something big like your S.O.’s insecurities or something small like how they don’t like meat on their pizza, you should be listening and retaining information all the time. Pro tip for this: Put your phone down!
Listening includes making eye contact during conversation and giving your full attention to your partner. Show them you care about what they’re saying and provide responses that further the conversation or that you understand the point they’re trying to make.
You should even go a step further and ask about the things that matter to them, according to relationship expert Danny Garrett:
Do something kind for them every day. Surprise them and whip up their favorite meal for dinner. Slip a “thinking of you” message into their bag. Even just giving your partner a genuine compliment on how they look can be an excellent way to show affection.
The smallest of kind gestures can prove to your partner that they matter to you. Keep in mind that it doesn’t take a lot to really make someone’s day.
Plan something just for the two of you. Taking the time and initiative to plan something that’s just for you and your boo can be an effective way of making him or her feel both prioritized and special.
“When couples get comfortable, their relationship turns into a lot of ‘What do you want for dinner?’ And this can easily make things go stale,” explains Lana Otoya, a professional dating coach at millenialships. “Instead of saying ‘Let’s go on a date’ or ‘You never take me out’, just plan a date on a night that you know they are free and tell them when and where it’s happening. Offer to pay and plan for everything. Your partner will love it.”
Verbally affirm that you care for them. Get into the habit of affirming your love or respect for your significant other on a daily basis. If you’re past the initial exchanging of “I love you”s, then make sure you’re saying “I love you” regularly.
This tip goes back to the saying that, if someone hears something over and over again, they’re bound to believe it. So the more you verbally tell your partner that you care for them, it will stick with them and make them feel secure in the relationship.
Even sending an “I love you” text in the middle of the day for no reason can seriously validate your person, says Plenty of Fish relationship expert Kate MacLean. “This will let your partner know that you are thinking about them even during your busy work day.”
Do something unexpected. “The reason why new love is so exciting is because our brain is not used to it,” says Otoya. “When you do something unexpected for your partner it is something new and different and can trigger endorphins in the brain.”
This doesn’t have to a huge gesture, either. Even a small act like leaving a note on the fridge before you leave the house in the morning, sending them a sweet text during lunch, or picking up a gift on a random Tuesday not only keeps things fresh and exciting, but shows your partner you care about them beyond the minutiae of everyday.
Make time for them, no matter how busy you are. Making an effort to spend time together is a great way to show affection to your partner. Even if you have to pencil a hangout time into your hectic schedule, you should do so. Giving them your time is a small but meaningful way to show you care.
Meeting up on your lunch breaks, stopping by their place of work to say hello, or even commuting home together are all things you can work into your weekday work schedule. Figure out what works best for both of you and then commit to hanging out whenever you can.
Remember that physical touch can say a lot. Reach out and grab your partner’s hand while walking down the street. Give them a kiss before you each head off to work in the morning. According to Psychology Today, people feel more secure in their relationships when physical, romantic touch is present.
Physical touch can resolve conflicts quicker and lower blood pressure. Touch paired with eye contact provides affirmation that you and your partner are both present in that scenario and tapped into each other’s emotions.
Otoya also tells us about a common rule amongst marriage researchers called the seven-second kiss. Kissing each other for at least seven seconds a day has been proven to release oxytocin which is the bonding hormone that causes people to become emotionally attached, so lock those lips!
Use your listening skills to remember details about them. Remember when your partner said they didn’t like meat on their pizza? Recalling this tidbit of information can mean a lot when you compromise and surprise them by ordering a veggie pizza rather than your favorite, pepperoni.
Remembering your partner’s little quirks shows them that you’re actually listening and paying attention when they talk to you. Everything comes full circle in the end, and all that listening transforms into showing affection to your partner.
Help them. They can’t find their car keys. They don’t have enough time in the day to pick up groceries. They’re struggling with their self confidence. Whatever the problem is, help your partner through it.
“If your language of love is service, go ahead and never get tired of cooking your partner’s favorite food for him/her. Prepare things that he/she might like. Give your partner massages when he/she is stressed and tired. As they say, action speaks louder than words,” says Schewyer.
Physical and emotional support are key to improving and maintaining a strong relationship. Be there for your significant other through the silly and the struggles. Psychology Today says it’s important to put your own feelings aside for the benefit of your partner and help them cope with whatever is going on. Have each other’s backs no matter what.
Ultimately, the key to any successful relationship is simply being present. Being present with your partner physically and emotionally is the most affirming and affectionate thing you can do to prove that you care for and respect them.
Dr. Seth Meyers, a relationship expert for eharmony, says, “Research shows that couples who report practicing higher levels of physical and emotional affection also report feeling happier in their relationship. Showing affection is important to relationships because it makes your partner feel good, and you come to learn that you end up feeling happier, too.” Here’s to that.