Have you ever been in a relationship where you and your partner said “I love you” almost compulsively, but at the end of the day, you still felt like something was lacking?
Have you ever wanted to say “I love you” like two days into a relationship, even though it would practically be criminally insane?
Or, have you ever thought that you might love the person you’re seeing, but you want to wait until you know that you’re sure?
While love honestly isn’t that complicated — it is everywhere, doesn’t mean lifelong commitment, and isn’t even some permanently binding universal force! — I get that there’s a bit of responsibility that comes with saying it. I also think that there are ways of enacting love that go way further and make a person feel more cared for then coming out and saying it in the first place.
If you’re wondering how to show love without saying it — or if you’re wondering how your partner might be better able to demonstrate their love — then this might be the list for you. If the person you’re seeing isn’t reciprocating? All you have to do is ask!
1. Help Her With Her Chores
Do you have a washer and dryer at your place, and she is constantly hauling her clothes to the laundromat? Does she need to clean her bathroom, but she really, really hates cleaning?
Small, meaningful gestures that help take the weight off of your partner’s daily life can sometimes mean a whole lot more than “I love you.” While those three words can be nice to hear, people say them all the time without meaning it. Or they might mean it, but they’re also dragging their partner down.
This way of showing love means that you care about your significant other’s wellbeing and want to contribute to the quality of her day-to-day life. It shows that you want her to thrive in her space and that you can help share in that process.
It’s also not a bad way to spend quality time together, especially if you’re short on funds.
2. Turn Off Your Phone When You’re With Them
Giving someone your undivided attention is a profound and meaningful way to connect with another human. If you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, or you’re simply as addicted to Instagram as I am, then it can seem normal to be flipping through your feed while you’re sitting next to your partner.
While I don’t find this behavior disrespectful or necessarily annoying, it is kind of like lingering on the threshold of a room. With one foot in and one foot out, you’re actually not fully involved anywhere.
Showing your partner that you can be fully present with them, no matter what you are doing, is a meaningful demonstration of love. In fact, it might get to the heart of what love means more than saying it.
3. Hold Their Hand In Public
Touch is a crucial component of love. If the two of you have a strong sexual chemistry in private, then I don’t think it necessarily needs to be concealed when you go out of the house.
That’s not to say that you should be doing more than you’re comfortable with — you really don’t have to make out in public — but tiny gestures can go a long way.
I don’t know why it seems like people think that hand holding means that you want to get married or that it’s somehow equivalent to going at it on a bus stop bench, but it does seem to me like a lot of couples don’t really do it. Meanwhile, my platonic friends and I totally do, and it’s one of my favorite gestures of tenderness.
In any case, I think that everybody, as a society, needs more handholding. Not only between couples, either. Hold hands with your friends! It’s a simple display of intimacy that actually doesn’t have anything to do with sex. It just shows that you are connected.
4. Support Her Ambitions
Never tell your partner that she cannot do something or discourage her in any way. Ever. There’s no better way to become lead in the bottom of somebody who was built to fly. Because your girlfriend was built to fly. Is that clear?
In addition to not becoming dead-weight, it’s important that you actually lend physical and emotional support to somebody’s desires and ambitions.
That means that if you have a technical skill that could assist her with a project, if you can introduce her to someone who can help her get her dream job, or simply if you can hold space for her to talk about what she is working on, then you should do that.
It feels like this should be Feelings 101 stuff — if you care for someone, then you should want to see them do well. But in two of my previous relationships, men have thought that I was vain or too ambitious because I had dreams or, just as bad, made my talents about them.
If your girlfriend has a skill that you admire, do not allow your admiration to turn to jealousy. That’s not how to show someone you love them. That’s not even love.
5. Ask Her How She Is Feeling
Emotions really should not be that difficult to talk about. If you love somebody, then you’re probably sharing in your emotions already — at least the ones you have for each other.
However, a relationship is only one aspect of a person’s life. Did she have a recent argument with her mom? Follow up with whether or not it was resolved, and how she is feeling about it now. Does her best friend have a new boyfriend whom she isn’t sure she likes? Hear her out in her analysis.
Asking what’s actually going on in her universe, and then asking follow up questions, means you care for the condition of her spirit and her soul even when she’s not around you.
6. Feed Him
Gift-giving is commonly acknowledged as a love language. Those of us with limited budgets, allergies to floral arrangements, or minimalist living spaces either don’t get to or don’t want to reap the benefits.
In my experience, the most nourishing and significant gift that somebody can provide is a meal. It stands as a symbol of comfort and sustenance, while it also takes care of something that you both have to do anyway.
If you always burn the rice, you can learn how to cook with a little practice. There are lists of recipes out there to cater to inexperienced cooks that you can check out before you go to the grocery store.
Bonus points if you bring your partner along with you on your shopping expedition. It’s good quality time and maybe he needs to pick some things up, too.
7. Express Your Gratitude
If “I love you” gets you tongue-tied, or if you want to say it, but it’s too soon, then you can replace that word in your vocabulary with a simple “thanks.” There is no situation that it doesn’t work in!
You know that urge to proclaim your lasting devotion after really great sex? Just say thanks!
Did she just make a joke that is cracking you up, and you want to tell her that you love her, but it’s the wrong moment? Thank her for making you laugh.
You can even thank her for existing. As a matter of fact, whether or not you’re ready to show someone you love them yet, you probably should.