While you probably enjoy the occasional over-the-top gift from your S.O., it’s the seemingly small gestures that require everyday thoughtfulness and effort that can eventually create a deeper connection and positively transform your relationship.
For instance, just reminiscing about a time you and your partner cracked up together over something funny or ridiculous can boost your relationship satisfaction (not to mention your mood), according to research. Here are 11 other little (and free!) things you can do to show your other half how much you really love and appreciate them.
Leave written love notes
“Grab some good old Post-its and start writing! Jot down everything you absolutely love about your partner — how handsome, funny, smart, hardworking, a great lover, an incredible parent he or she is. Write each adoration on individual notes and place them around the house, starting with where they’ll first be likely to see them. This little gesture brings back those precious and powerful feelings and stirs all of those great brain chemicals that make us happy and connected to one another.” — Kailen Rosenberg, celebrity love architect and founder of The Lodge Social Club
“Each day, sit back-to-back and one at a time, spend no more than 10 minutes telling each other about your day or anything else you’d like to share. Then, each of you take a turn finishing this sentence: “What I love about you is…” After, turn and face each other and place a hand on the other person’s heart. There’s something special about feeling another person’s spine connected to yours. It’s an amazing way to feel loved and appreciated.” — Claudia Matles, a certified yoga and wellness coach
Brag about your S.O.
“Show other people how you appreciate your partner. Talk about your partner’s accomplishments, show adoration by holding hands, locking eyes, side-hugging — all in public. Displaying affection towards your partner in front of others will boost your partner’s confidence and help them feel worthy and loved. This reaches us deeply because one of the reasons why we go into relationships is to feel needed, wanted and appreciated by others.” — Dalila Jusic-LaBerge, licensed marriage and family therapist
“Try gazing into each other’s eyes for 90 seconds. It’s actually quite challenging. This exercise is focused on giving your partner 100 percent of your attention and truly being present and could even lead to a romantic encounter — once you’ve finished the 90-second eye lock, of course.” — Dr. Michele Kerulis, a relationship expert, counselor and professor of counseling at Northwestern University
Embrace awkward moments
So, your partner let one rip while having sex or you caught them picking their nose — don’t just cringe and try to pretend it didn’t happen. “By cracking a joke and laughing off an imperfect moment, it becomes a memory to cherish. These instances contribute to the relationship’s uniqueness. The awkward times make you a great pair — acknowledging it and then laughing it off eases the tension and creates new bonds.” — April Davis, relationship expert and professional matchmaker
Wake up together
“If your spouse gets up before you because you work from home or have a short commute, make it a point at least once a week to get up and make the coffee or breakfast. Better yet, join your partner in the shower. Why? Even the most enlightened, loving spouse becomes resentful of leaving in the morning to go to work while the other spouse is sleeping in!” — Caroline Madden, licensed marriage and family therapist
Actively listen & then act
“The-day-to-day hustle and fast-paced world we live in makes it challenging to really hear others and what makes them tick. If your partner keeps talking about knots in their back, for example, take note and surprise them with a trip to a massage place nearby. If you notice they haven’t take a vacation in awhile, start researching deals on Travelocity. Really listen to them for dropped hints and spend time letting them know they’re appreciated.” — Dr. Kathryn Smerling, licensed family therapist
Surprise them in the bedroom
“Pay close attention to what your partner does and doesn’t like in the bedroom, and consider trying out new things that cater to their interests — a new sex toy, for instance. This is a subtle way to surprise your partner and remind them that you still find them super-sexy, which is crucial for both partners to feel. The gesture will show them that you care about their satisfaction and pleasure and help open up the door for important conversations down the road.” — Polly Rodriguez, CEO of Unbound
Go to bed together every night
“Going to sleep right is as important as starting the day off right. If you go to bed separately, you risk feelings of loneliness or disconnection. Some of the best conversations and experiences can happen in that precious time just before falling asleep; we’re at our most vulnerable in those moments of comfortable snuggling or relaxation.” — Madden
Show your love off on social
“For the next #FlashbackFriday or #ThrowbackThursday, randomly surprise them — and all your mutual Facebook friends! — with a post from your early days. Don’t wait for an anniversary or a special occasion. Just dig up some favorite old memories and declare your love for them to the world — they’re worth it! And if you’re not a fan of social media, look for an old photo and text it to them with a cute message — guarantee it will put a smile on their face!” — Smerling
Let them be themselves
Letting your partner do and be who they are without insult or trying to change them is one of the best ways to show you love them. “Consider participating or buying them an accessory for an activity they love, even if you’re not interested in it — like a car freshener for that overpriced car they bought or going to a NASA exhibit even if you find astronomy boring — and laying judgment aside. This shows them you acknowledge what gives them happiness and are willing to let go of controlling due to your personal annoyance.” — Lisa Bahar, licensed marriage and family therapist