Don’t Just Say “I Love You”. Show It.

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You may think saying “I love you” is all that is needed in your relationship(s).  But, if you live each day as if it could be your last with the person(s) you love, you will find many ways to show your love rather than just announcing your love.

Here are some proven ways to show your love.

Give Reassurance and Emotional Support

               Both men and women feel loved when their partner gave assurances that he/she would always be there and supportive.1   Give your partner security by saying you are there for them when they most need it.  Show emotional support by being attentive though making eye contact and actively listening by repeating back a bit of what you heard.

Touch

Don’t let a day go by without touching your partner.  Maybe it is a hug or a kiss, or a shoulder rub.  Touch does not have to always signal, “I want sex”—it can signal, “I care about you.” 2   In fact, contrary to stereotypes, men in long-term relationships who get lots of kisses and cuddles report being more sexually satisfied.3

Be Positive

               When you are cheerful and optimistic, your replies are comforting for your partner.  This positivity also includes being patient and forgiving, showing a cooperative attitude during disagreements, and avoiding criticizing your partner.  Researchers have found that both men and women can show this equally in relationships and it is much appreciated by both genders.4

Do Things Together

               Sharing household tasks, working together on a mutual (fun) goal, walking and talking (but not about problems), and having a night out all communicate that you love to be with your partner.  Although one study found no difference in the men and women using this way of showing love, one other study did find that men tend to using this strategy more than women.5, 6

Show Appreciation

               When your partner does something you like, make sure you say so. And, often, just out of the blue, compliment your partner by saying what, specifically, you love about him/her. 

Do Things for Your Partner (Especially Surprises)

               Have a plant or flowers sent to your partner at work.  Wrap a warm blanket around your partner when he/she needs comforting.  Pack a suitcase for each of you and take your partner on a surprise weekend trip.  A lot of what love is all about is the attraction, caring, and intimacy you are showing through these actions.7

  1. Dainton, M., Stafford, L., & Canary, D.J. (1994). Maintenance strategies and physical affection as predictors of love, liking, and satisfaction in marriage. Communication Reports, 7, 2, 88-98.
  2. Marston, P.J., Hecht, M.L. & Robers, T. (1987). True love ways: The subjective experience and communication of romantic love. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 4, 387-407.
  3. Heiman, J.R., et. al. (2011). Sexual satisfaction and relationship happiness in midlife and older couples in five countries. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 4, 741-753.
  4. Dainton, M., Stafford, L., & Canary, D.J. (1994). Maintenance strategies and physical affection as predictors of love, liking, and satisfaction in marriage. Communication Reports, 7, 2, 88-98.
  5. Dainton, M., Stafford, L., & Canary, D.J. (1994). Maintenance strategies and physical affection as predictors of love, liking, and satisfaction in marriage. Communication Reports, 7, 2, 88-98.
  6. Schoenfeld, E.A., Bredow, C.A., & Huston, T.L. (2012). Do men and women show love differently in marriage? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 11, 1396-1409.
  7. Rubin, Z. (1973). Liking and loving.Y.: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Do Marriages from Meeting Online Last?

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According to a recent study, more than one-third of marriages in America now begin on-line.1   But do these marriages last as long as do marriages that result from off-line meetings?  The answer is a resounding “yes”.  In fact, marriages that began with an on-line meeting were slightly less likely to result in a marital break-up than were marriages resulting from an off-line meeting.  Furthermore, among those who remained married, marital satisfaction was higher in this group.2

  1. Cacioppo, J.T., et. al. (2013) Marital satisfaction and break-ups differ across on-line and off-line meeting venues. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America,110,25, 10135-10140.
  2. Ibid.

What’s Wrong with Satisfying Each Other’s Needs?

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A recent relationship advice book focuses on his needs and her needs.  The author “discovered” these top needs from interviewing his patients and others.  Of course, this is not science—it is just the opinions of a group of people. 

Men stated their top needs as:

  1. Sexual Fulfillment 
    2. Recreational Companionship 
    3. An Attractive Spouse 
    4. Domestic Support 
    5. Admiration

Women stated their top needs as:

  1. Affection 
    2. Conversation 
    3. Honesty and Openness 
    4. Financial Commitment 
    5. Family Commitment

Yes, we have these needs and often look to our partner to satisfy them.   A relationship that satisfies these needs feels so comfortable.

But what happens when your partner stops satisfying your needs? Maybe your partner lost his/her job and is having trouble finding another one.  Maybe you both are so busy satisfying the domestic support and financial commitment needs that there is little time and energy to address some of the other needs.

Is the solution to make sure there is a change?  A change where your partner shapes up and satisfies most of your needs?  Or a change where you become so disillusioned that you withdraw into your own world (or maybe into a relationship with someone else)? 

Erich Fromm, in his theory of love, stated, “Love is the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love.”1 Children are dependent on others for their needs to be fulfilled by others because they cannot fulfill many of those needs themselves.  So parental love helps a child grow through fulfilling many of the child’s needs. 

Erich Fromm went on to state that, “Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says: ‘I need you because I love you.’”2 Adult relationships that are built on fulfilling each other’s needs create dependencies.  You depend on your partner to fulfill your needs rather than developing into a person that can fulfill some of his/her own needs. 

When you fulfill some of your own needs you have a mature loving relationship that is interdependent, not dependent.  For example, you can have some recreational companionship with your partner but you can also have some of it with others and even some of your recreation by yourself.  You could also have conversations with others besides your partner so that your dependence on your partner to fulfill that need is not an everyday occurrence. 

Of course you are not going to ignore your partner’s needs nor is your partner going to ignore your needs.  You just will not feel resentful when your partner demands they be met or when your partner fails to meet your needs.  You will, instead, develop a relationship based on looking inside yourself and not always just outside yourself.

Needs also change throughout one’s life.  The attractive partner need becomes less as the relationship develops into a deeper connection of minds and hearts.  The family commitment need becomes less as the children leave home (unless, of course, an aging parent moves in). 

Yes, do connect through understanding and responding to each other’s needs but make sure you are not desperately dependent on each other for need fulfillment. Give the love you have within rather than waiting to get your needs fulfilled through love.

  1. Fromm, Erich (1962). The art of loving. New York: Harper & Row, p. 26.
  2. Ibid., p. 41.