Rules of Attraction
While love can be complicated at times, saying the actual words can make some uncomfortable. But there are other ways to show how much you care or love without muttering a word or buying a card.
Love is one of the basic human experiences and needs. It can be felt for a child or parent, a lover or friend. It can be given freely or withheld indefinitely. Love transcends races, religions, time and death. It can launch a thousand ships or cause star-crossed lovers to go to extreme measures. And in its most selfless form, love is unconditional, even sacrificial.
Love, though simple in nature, can be confusing and complicated, especially at this time of year. We’re bombarded with images of love on television, in the movies, in books and on the radio. We all need it and crave it, yet many of us lack love or don’t know how to express it adequately. Love may be one of the most powerful human emotions ever felt, but it’s also one of the most misunderstood. Maybe that’s because love is not an emotion at all.
While most people consider love a feeling, the scientific community disagrees. The euphoria most people feel when in love is not love itself. According to American Psychology Association, love is more characteristic of drives (hunger, thirst) which unlike emotions, require action.
When you’re in love, the person who makes you “happy” becomes your goal that drives you to win his or her heart. As you work toward this end, you feel all the emotions that come with love. So if love is an action, saying “I love you,” while important, may not be the best expression of love.
Then what is the best way to love? The answer really depends on how the person feels loved.
While every person is an individual, according to Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, how someone feels loved falls into five categories: quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service and receiving gifts. Knowing how your loved ones interpret love not only allows you to show love, but it can result in better communication and connection, which is an essential part of all relationships.
While love can be complicated at times, saying the actual words can make some uncomfortable, especially in the early stages of a relationship. For those already in long-lasting relationships, the actual words may start to seem robotic. But there are other ways to show how much you care or love someone without muttering a word or buying a card. Here are 14 ideas to get you started.
When you’re with your loved ones, give them your attention. Make it a habit to put away the phone. Look them in the eye when you speak, and refer back to what they are saying so they understand that you actually heard them and are not just giving them half an ear.
Keep your word
If you say you are going to do something, then set a date and time, and do it. Nothing says “you don’t matter to me” like not following through on what you said you’d do. If you are unable to keep your word, then talk about it ahead of time and apologize after the deadline passes. But don’t leave it at that. Recommit and set another date to follow through.
Love means seeing the potential in your loved one and not allowing them to give up on dreams. Believe in them when they have nothing left to believe in. Speak words to encourage, and if you don’t know what to say, ask.
Let the person you love “win,” even if you know you’re right. Many breakdowns in relationships happen because we are selfish and want to win at every cost. Imagine how loved your significant other will feel if you’re in the habit of needing to be right and get your way, but decide to relinquish the battle.
Don’t go to bed angry and don’t keep records of wrongs. If you’re right and win an argument, then don’t throw it in their face. And whatever you do, don’t keep bringing up the past. Love cannot move forward if the past keeps coming up.
Take deep breaths, count to three and ignore a habit that may annoy you, especially when it’s happening. Then if it continues to be a problem, discuss it at a different time when your loved one is more open to the discussion.
Share a positive quality or something you admire in your loved one for no reason at all. Make a love jar, and every time you think of something you admire or respect in your loved one, write it down and put it in the jar. Then when they need a little encouragement, point them to the jar.
Put sticky notes in unexpected places at home or in the car. Write something encouraging on the mirror in lipstick or a dry erase marker. You can leave love notes in the fridge, microwave or on a favorite coffee mug. For added fun, try leaving a trail of love notes that end up as an even bigger surprise that really speaks to your loved one’s love language.
Notice a job well done and make sure you express it in words or a note. Whether you send a quick text or take the time to choose a card that says exactly how you feel, your words will be appreciated and may be saved for years to come.
Nothing says “I love you for who you are” more than not trying to change your loved ones or nitpick every time they do something you don’t like. Accept them for who they are — flaws and all — and be committed to nurturing and encouraging them to be the best they can be.
Choose to not go out with the girls or guys when you know your loved one has had an especially hard day. Even if he or she insists you go out, staying home will speak love in a meaningful way. Instead, spend the time speaking their love language, not yours. Even if your loved one needs to be alone, knowing you are there will still say “I love you.”
Do something you don’t really like, just to be with the one you love. If you couldn’t care less about football, get excited about the next game and prepare his favorite snacks, then sit down and watch, but don’t ask too many questions. If the theater is not your thing, don’t wait for her to beg you to go. Buy the tickets the next time and take her to her favorite restaurant and make a night of it. Learning something about the game or play beforehand will say “I care about what you care about.”
Touch doesn’t have to be sexual to express love. In fact, unexpected, affectionate touches can say “I love you” anywhere anytime. Put your hand on her back as you hold the door open. Massage his scalp or neck while he’s driving. Foot rubs, back rubs, holding hands, a loving pat, a kiss on the neck while she’s cooking or while he’s paying the bills all say, “I love you.”
Buying something that reminds you of your loved one for no particular reason, says “I was thinking about you.” It can be as simple as a favorite candy or coffee, or as elaborate as a new outfit or electronic device. Only you will know what is meaningful to your loved one. And if you don’t know, take time to ask what their favorite things are. Then file it away for another day.
Want to really show your love? Bring your loved ones’ favorite lunch, snack, or coffee to work, especially when they have a hectic day planned or in the middle of the day at home when they’re busy with the children.
Doing extra chores, especially when your loved one is overwhelmed or doesn’t have to ask, is a special way to show love. It can be as simple as folding the laundry or doing the dishes so your loved one can relax or as elaborate as finishing a project like organizing a closet, or pantry, or cleaning out the garage. If she hates filling up the gas tank, make sure it has plenty of gas, especially if it will be cold the next day.
Go out of your way to check on your loved one when they are sick or having a bad day. You may not know what to say or do, but that doesn’t matter. All you need to do is show that you care by reaching out and asking “what can I do to help?” Then be prepared to do it, within reason. If your loved one is sick and you only have an hour lunch break and you’re all the way across town, showing up with a bowl of soup or just for a hug will say plenty.
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