How do you show love to someone dear to your heart? If you are taking too long to come up with an answer, then maybe you are taking for granted the fact that your loved ones actually know how you feel about them.
After all, you’re still “with” your significant other, right? Or you’re friendly and communicative with your family, so what reasons could they have to doubt how you feel?
As much as that rationale might make sense, the fact of the matter is it’s important to express love–not only for those you care about, but for yourself as well.
The health benefits of expressing love
If you’re looking for a reason to improve your ways to show love, look no further than the health and well-being of those around you (including yourself!).
A growing body of research has linked the ability to express love and other positive emotions to:
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Decreased stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased immune system function
- Improved relationship satisfaction
Does any of that really surprise you? Think about how good it feels to have someone you care about take the time to show you how they feel. Of course, it’s a positive thing!
4 ways to show love
One of the most important ways to show love is through the expression of gratitude.
When someone does something helpful or important to you–tell them! Don’t let the moment pass, thinking they know you appreciate their efforts.
A number of studies have shown expressing gratitude strengthens companionable, familial, and romantic relationships, but it also fosters optimism, enthusiasm, sharing, and attentiveness, all important qualities in any relationship.
What can you do to show gratitude? It’s as simple as saying “thank you.” When words aren’t quite enough, reciprocate a kind deed with one of your own. For example, if your spouse makes you lunch, offer to make dinner, do the dishes, or bring home a favorite snack/movie/hobby in appreciation.
Random acts of kindness
You don’t have to wait for a reason to do something nice for someone you care about, either. When it comes to ways to show love, sometimes random acts of kindness and thoughtfulness are the most powerful.
Often this habit will set off a chain of kindness events (ever been in a drive-through line when someone unexpectedly pays for your meal, so you pay for the next car’s, and so on?), but it also provides important relationship benefits.
Research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found random acts of kindness lower inflammation in the body by encouraging a positive state of mental health and well-being. And when you feel good, that all transfers into how you treat those around you!
Communicate how you’re feeling
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you have to let the people you care about know when you’re happy–and when you’re upset. That doesn’t mean you have to speak up about every minor thing that bugs you during the day, but it does mean that you shouldn’t bottle up major issues.
Talking about feelings–good or bad–can bridge understanding gaps and bring people closer together, but how you communicate is also important.
And remember: Be calm, responsive, and open to what your partner is communicating.
Know things about the people you care about
Does your best friend know your favorite color? Your favorite food? Your birthday? That’s because he or she is invested in who you are as a person, and that is one of the ways to show love to people you care about.
Knowing little facts about the people you love may even be on par with communication in relationships, states a 2013 study from Robert Epstein, a professor of psychology at the University of the South Pacific.
After all, if you know someone–truly know someone–you know what ways of showing love mean the most to them.