Once upon a time, I had a boyfriend who would execute a lot of grand gestures. The problem was that he was inattentive and a jerk in between. Even worse, when he’d complete a grand gesture, he’d want praise and recognition. I’d get bombarded with questions like, “Aren’t I the best?” and “Didn’t you love it so much?”
No and no.
He didn’t seem to get that the sweet gesture was soured by his behavior before and after. To make matters worse, he’d post on social media about how “great” he was. He’d take photos, write a blurb about how much he loves me, and essentially beg for likes. People would see that and think, wow! How sweet! How thoughtful! Little did they know that he had been screaming at me for not replying to his text just a few hours ago.
Grand gestures aren’t acceptable apologies. A lot of people will try to do something big and excessive to make up for bad behavior. When I was working at a spa, a coworker would always get flower deliveries. Not just regular flowers. I’m talking two dozen red roses. She’d be so happy to get them, but after a few times, the truth came out. They were apology flowers.
We live in a culture where victims and the dead get more flowers than the living.
Now, if my boyfriend wants to throw in a grand gesture of love and romance occasionally? Great. But I’d much prefer affection in small, consistent ways. Consistency is key in most aspects of life. Turns out, it’s the same for love.
How you can show love in small ways?
So, how can you show love in meaningful ways? It’s easy. One way is to know your partner’s love language. Another way is to be consistent.
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, love languages are the ways your partner is going to receive and feel loved best. There’s five. If you don’t know them, they are: acts of service, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, physical touch, and quality time.
Does your partner appreciate acts of service? Do something small to help them out, and do it with a smile. Help them finish a project around the house. Do the grocery shopping. Make them dinner.
Is your partner more of a words of affirmation gal? Tell her how much you love her, care about her, value her, etc. But be specific! “I love it when you smile. I’m so lucky,” is way different than: “You have a cute smile.”
Does your partner enjoy gifts? This doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Small inexpensive gifts are an opportunity to show that you’re thinking about the other person. See their favorite candy bar at the grocery checkout? Grab it. Or pick up an ingredient for a recipe they want to make if they like baking. Make it personal. Are you creative? Then craft them a poem or knit them a scarf. It’s the thought that counts, not the price tag.
Does your partner like physical touch? The first thing that comes to mind for most people is sex. Yeah, sex is a great way to connect with a lover, however, holding their hand is just as important. Cuddle. Wrap your arms around them. Hug them. Physical touch is about intimacy and connection, and if you’re relying solely on sex for intimacy you’re missing out on so much.
Does your partner value quality time? If so, make it a priority to spend more time with them. Even an extra thirty minutes a day to just share thoughts or media that made you smile can boost your relationship. Quality time together is all about engagement, that’s what makes it quality.
More important than just knowing (and implementing) your partner’s love language is to be consistent. Consistency is what fosters and grows affection and feelings of love. Plants don’t grow after being watered once. Love doesn’t grow from a single display of affection and nothing more. Besides, if you’re consistently showing your partner love and affection, chances are they’ll reciprocate it. You’ll create a positive feedback loop of adoration — what could be better than that?
Now, you may be wondering: what do small acts of love look like?
Love is in the small things.
Love is wrapping strong arms around your partner as they chop vegetables in a sunlit kitchen.
Love is quietly draping a blanket over them as they take an impromptu nap on the sofa.
Love is curling up with them on the sofa, cuddling close and breathing in the scent of their shampoo.
Love is eating a home-cooked meal on the patio together.
Love is being patient when they’re having a bad day and not at their best.
Love is well-placed kisses when they cry over the sad parts of movies.
Love is admiring their smile over a glass of wine.
Love is letting them have the first taste of your ice cream cone.
Love is asking them, “What do you need?” and then helping.
Love is making an extra cup of coffee when you make yours.
Love is hugs before leaving for work.
Love is taking the selfie with them for the third time and not getting annoyed.
Love is trying to wrestle the cat into the bathtub together and both ending up soaked but smiling.
Love is just checking in with each other and taking a genuine interest in their day.
Love is reading together in the same room, and being able to glance over at them and wonder, “How the hell did I get so lucky?”
Love is being unable to stop grinning while they’re debating between two kinds of milk at the supermarket.
Love is decorating for holidays together.
Love is stuffing your face with popcorn as you watch a movie on the loveseat.
Love is the delight on their face when you bring them a snack.
Love is laughter, smiles, understanding, and kisses.
. . .
Day to day life and obligations can make us lose sight of the little things. And those little things are really big when done consistently — like taking a moment to show your partner some affection. You fell in love with them for a reason. Maybe they made you smile or laugh or feel special. So, don’t wait and make a grand gesture. Instead, show your partner some appreciation in small ways. We all deserve more love in our daily lives. Once you realize that love is in the small things, your relationship will flourish.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love and is republished here with permission from the author.
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