10 Ways To Say "I Love You" Without Saying It

There are approximately a million ways to tell someone you love them without saying those three words. Love is largely communicated via action, and while it's incredibly nice to hear and express those words regularly, it's also important to say "I love you" without any words at all. There are plenty of cliches around this — actions speak louder than words, show and don't tell — and though I agree with them to a point, I also think it's really, really valuable to use your words. But maybe you don't want to say those particular three just yet. Or maybe you have said them already, but don't want to say them every minute of every day. (Wise.)

In a relationship, there's always a time period before anyone drops an "I love you" when love is on the brain. Since you can't yet say as much, you can act out your feelings, which is actually really nice and fosters a super sweet rapport. And once the sentiment has been conveyed, it's still significant to perform small acts of daily kindness that send the message nonverbally. In a healthy relationship, this comes as second nature, but here are a few ideas to silently say "I love you," whether you've actually said it already or not.

1. Leave a note

Before you dash off into your day, scrawl a quick "Sleep well!" and slip it on your partner's pillow. When they find it at bedtime, they'll know you were thinking of them in the morning. Similarly, if you're traveling, drop a postcard in the mail. You can say something as uncomplicated as "Thinking of you" or "Wish you were here," or you can write a paragraph about your trip. It's an easy way to let your partner know you're thinking of them, and anything analog is romantic these days, because it takes extra work and feels special.

2. Make dinner

Or lunch, or breakfast. Preparing a meal is an act of love, and food always tastes better if it's made by someone you care about. (Secret ingredient: love.) Make your grandmother's lasagne or your sister's kale salad, or make something up and try it out. Even a slapped-together sandwich is kind-hearted and won't go unappreciated.

3. Ask about something they're worried about

And take the time to really listen. We all have anxieties, and sometimes it's too hard to bring them up ourselves. If you know your partner is worried about a promotion at work, or a family member, or a school project, now is the time to ask how they are feeling about it. Just listen — don't offer advice, unless they ask for it. An open ear is enough.

4. Run them a bath if they are tired, or just let them fall asleep.

Maybe you've been looking forward to spending time with your partner all day, only to get to their house and discover they're exhausted. It's OK to get in bed, watch a movie and fall asleep early. Or run a bath for them. Or give them a foot rub. Don't put pressure on them to stay awake and entertain you.

5. Watch out for their best interest

In the same vein as the last idea, don't be selfish. If you can tell your partner really wants Chinese but you are set on Thai, get Chinese. If they really want to see a movie that you're not keen on, see it. If they want to go out and you want to stay in, go out. Put yourself aside and do what they want to do. It means a lot when someone pays attention to what you want, and you'll wind up having fun too.

6. Hang with their friends

Maybe you don't like them. Maybe your like your friends better. Who cares. Put your judgments on hold and hang out with your partner's crew. Ask them questions. Get to know them. It might turn out that you really like them. If you don't, don't show it. There's nothing worse than a hypercritical person who is super picky about who they like and don't like.

7. Make them a cup of tea

It's that easy, folks. Wake up, turn on the kettle, and brew a cup of tea. Bring it to bed. Serve it. That's love.

8. Make or buy little things that make you think of them

Whether you're at the farmers' market and you see a jar of their favorite honey or you're an expert knitter and you want to make them a pair of gloves, it's always a good idea to give gifts. Who doesn't love a present now and then? And if it's something specific that you know they would want or need, all the better.

9. Tell them you want them

I read an amazing article last year about how important it is to express that you want your partner, in addition to the fact that you love them. "I want you" is different from "I love you." It can convey sexual desire, but it also says that you want to be there in this relationship with them right now. Relationships are a choice, and you're choosing your partner because you want to. Say so.

10. Let them be them

We are all quirky and goofy and weird. Don't ever try to change your partner. They are who they are, and you fell in love with them exactly the way they are. Now that you're in love, don't try to mess with the picture. No one is perfect, and trying to change someone will only lead to disaster. Embrace their idiosyncrasies and accept their weaknesses. If you can't love them for who they are, move on.

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