1. It is not wrong (or weird, or needy) to ask your partner to say things out loud to you more often. It’s okay to remind them that compliments mean a lot to you, or that just hearing them say “thanks for doing the dishes” makes you feel so happy and appreciated.
2. Remember that “I love you” can be said in a lot of different ways. It is perfectly okay that it’s crucial for you to hear your partner say, “I love you.” But never forget to also look for examples of their love. Maybe saying it verbally doesn’t come naturally to them, but maybe they are always doing small, kind things for you that make your life a little easier and better. Never forget to notice and enjoy these little acts of love.
3. Treasure your small, little moments of conversation and alone time. When the two of you are out to dinner, put your phones away, and look at each other, and talk to each other. These ‘little’ moments build up and eventually become part of the foundation of your relationship.
4. If you want your partner to tell you how much they appreciate you, or you want them to remind you of how much they love you, or you want them to tell you how great they think you look, then lead by example. It’s not a measuring contest, or a one-for-one basis. Even if Words of Affirmation don’t come naturally to them, just take their hand and show them. Tell them how much they mean to you, thank them for vacuuming last night, bring up how great you thought they looked last week at your friend’s wedding. They’ll pick up on it, and they’ll learn from you how great Words of Affirmation can feel.
5. Remember that just because Words of Affirmation is your love language, doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to also say “I love you” in non-verbal ways. If they’ve had a bad week and it’s their turn to do the laundry but you have an urge to do it yourself in order to cheer them up, just do it. It doesn’t make saying “I love you” any less powerful or important. It’s just giving you yet another way to add more goodness and love into your relationship.
6. Remember that your partner can’t read your mind. Maybe outright saying “I want you to spend time with me” makes you feel silly or clingy or childish, but they won’t see it that way. Most likely, they’ll be touched. And being upfront with what you want is a heck of a lot healthier than dropping passive aggressive hints left and right, which only ends up frustrating and hurting both of you.
7. Do not feel guilty for asking your partner and other loved ones to be truly present when you’re spending time together. Going to a nice dinner together or having a catch-up coffee date or seeing your favorite band in concert – these are the ways that you feel close to people, these are the moments where you feel loved and where you show love. So it’s not ridiculous or greedy or irritating if you want your partner or family member or friend to be there in that moment with you, looking at you, listening to you and allowing you to listen to them – instead of them being in a million other places via their phone or tablet.
8. Give people a chance to show up. Maybe they suck at planning get-togethers or inviting you to dinner, but give them a chance to be there for you. They might just be the type who’s bad at instigating plans but who always, always shows up when you ask them to or when you invite them somewhere. After all, that’s a million times better than having a friend who says “we should do drinks” and cancels every time. If people want to be there for you but they don’t know how, show them.
9. Remember that you don’t have to earn people’s time. When someone really, truly loves you, it is not your job to prove to them why you are worth hanging out with. The people who truly care about you will be just as happy to spend a Saturday on your couch as they would be to do something Instagram-worthy.
10. Appreciate the experience. Even if your partner is (initially, or long-term) terribly, terribly bad at picking out presents for you, remember to pay attention to the process. Sometimes, the most touching gifts they’ll give you will be forgettable, but the extent of effort they went through to get the gift or to try to surprise you will show you just how much they truly love you.
11. Never apologize for the gifts you give them. Even if a homemade or heartfelt gift has never been their thing in the past, receiving something from you will mean the world to them no matter what it is – as long as it came from a sincere, caring, and loving place.
12. Think about the gift from their perspective. Maybe the gift they gave you isn’t the most jaw-dropping or unique thing you’ve ever received, but maybe, for them, it was a huge step. Maybe they were saving that trip to that cute little town until they met the person they wanted to spend forever with. Or maybe that coffee mug seems objectively random to you, but to them, it represents the start of trying to build a home with you. Sometimes the most objectively random gift is one of the most heartfelt and meaningful things you will ever receive, if you look closely enough.
13. Don’t ever convince yourself that your love language isn’t romantic. Having someone wash the dirty dishes for you or do the grocery shopping before your parents get into town or to wipe your head with a damp towel when you have the flu? That’s love. Picking up flowers or bringing home chocolates is easy – but all of those gross, tedious, or boring things someone does for you? That is true, unshakeable, unaffected love.
14. Show your appreciation constantly, no matter how small the act. Never underestimate how powerful it can be. Saying “thank you” when they bring in your drink from the other room seems insignificant. But this little moment will happen in a million times in a million situations for the rest of your relationship – so never stop telling them you appreciate them.
15. Even if Acts of Service is your love language and not theirs, every person in the world would enjoy having the bathroom cleaned, or the dishwasher emptied, or the trash taken out for them – if it was done out of love and as an attempt to make their day a little bit better.
16. Sometimes the simplest gestures in the world – grabbing their hand, touching their knee, anything else that takes three seconds – are the gestures that are the most overlooked. Never forget to do these things. These things matter. Show them by example, and they’ll probably reach for your hand a lot more too.
17. Remind them of the little gestures. Ask them to scratch your back, ask them to run their fingers in your hair, ask them to hug you a little longer. Particularly if Physical Touch is not their love language, these little things might go over their head sometimes. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to do it. It just means that once in a while, they need you to put their hand on your knee. And then next time, they’ll do it themselves.
18. Tell them how much the small things mean to you. Maybe they walked by you in the kitchen one time and they kissed you on the forehead and it practically made your heart burst, but they haven’t done it since. That’s not intentional, they’re not trying to not do that again. But they feel your love in a different way than you feel theirs. So tell them how much these little things mean to you, how much these little things make you smile. It will make them smile too, because knowing how much that little gesture meant to you will mean a lot to them.
19. Always take a moment to breathe it in. Those long hugs in the middle of your family room that happen for no reason, their arm resting reassuringly on your shoulder when you’re trying not to cry in a public place – take a second to appreciate these moments, to feel them, to truly breathe them in. Because they pass quickly, but the love you feel from them will last a lot longer.