While the question of whether two people can fall in love by staring into each other's eyes and answering 36 questions has been hotly debated lately, we can agree that the emotional bonding this activity facilitates is a greater component of love than any extravagant gift or luxurious vacation. Korean artist Puung's poignant illustrations make this point by depicting some other, more common activities couples partake in, the signs of affection they display to show each other they care, and the attitudes that help them cherish every moment with each other. "'Love' is something that everybody can relate to. And 'love' comes in ways that we can easily overlook in our daily lives," explains Puung's Facebook page.
The more we can convey these subtle signs of love and appreciate when our partners convey them, the less strife we will have in our relationships — because we'll remember why the time we spend with them means so much to us. To make the most of this valuable time, here are some activities you and your partner can enjoy, or maybe already enjoy but overlook, inspired by the illustrations on Puung's Grafolio page.
1. Read to Each Other
Yes, we're grownups and we can read to ourselves. But reading to each other lets us experience books together and provides the sense of comfort we relished during story time as children.
2. Cook Each Other Your Favorite Meals
Surprising your partner with their favorite meal is an excellent way to show that you're both attuned to their likes and dislikes and glad to put aside some time to make them (and their stomach) happy.
3. Provide a Shoulder to Lean On
One of the most rewarding parts of a relationship is feeling comfortable around someone when you're not at your best. You can provide this sense of security by making sure your partner knows you are free of judgment and ready to help when they're feeling blue, no matter what the reason.
4. Make Art Together
Whatever your medium of choice, you and your partner can work on your paintings, music, or writing together and even collaborate on a project that incorporates both your art forms, like building an instrument or creating a book of photographs accompanied by poems, to give your emotional partnership material form.
5. Share a Spontaneous Hug
Since hugs are often a formality used to say "hello" or "goodbye," we can forget they're an option at any time. But there's nothing like a hug to dissolve tension or remind your partner that even on days when you've gotten up on the wrong side of the bed or are busy doing your own thing, you still love them.
6. Say "I love you"
Like hugs, "I love you"s can become ritualized to the point that we forget to say it outside specific contexts. But there's no wrong time to say "I love you" (unless, you know, you've just started dating. Then it might be a little weird). Your partner may already know, but it never hurts to remind them.
7. Play with a Pet
The cat is really the highlight of this series. Taking care of an animal together is a great way to bond, and even if neither of you have your own pet, volunteering at an animal shelter is a both adorable and constructive date activity.
8. Draw Each Other
This activity can be sensitive, so make sure not to use it as an opportunity to express your inner caricaturist. On the other hand, since you likely have flattering perceptions of each other, your pictures can be nice mementos to make you both feel good about yourselves.
9. Share Food
The best part of going out to eat together is that you can try not one dish but two, whether it's just an ice cream cone or a full meal.
10. Nap Together
When you're too busy to carve out time together, this is one way to get in some quality time without compromising anything else on your to-do list.
Though I hate to rain on this beautiful parade of illustrations, they do only show a white, heterosexual couple (though, in all fairness, it is only one couple) in rather gender-stereotypical situations (for example, a man comforting a crying woman and breaking her fall as she unsuccessfully climbs a ladder). Nevertheless, they teach us some important lessons about love — both how to give it and how to receive it. Images: Courtesy of Puuung