Hearing you partner say "I love you" is undeniably great, especially when you feel that way in return. It's validating, comforting, and often inspires you to say it right back. But if your partner doesn't say "I love you" as frequently as you'd like, it may feel like you're missing that confirmation of their affection. And, in some cases, it may even cause you to question the state of your relationship.
That's why it's important to keep in mind not everyone finds it important to say the L word 24/7, and plenty more don't even feel comfortable doing so. "Some people weren’t raised in families where the words 'I love you' were used frequently or even at all," Bette Alkazian, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, tells Bustle. "Saying the words can feel foreign or uncomfortable." If your partner doesn't express their love verbally, this may be one reason why. But it doesn't necessarily mean they don't care.
It's possible you and your partner simply have different love languages, or different ways of showing affection. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five love languages: using words of affirmation, showing appreciation through acts of service, giving/receiving gifts, spending quality time together, and showing love through touch.
If you're someone who likes to hear words of affirmation, while your partner is someone who shows love in other ways, it might feel like you're not on the same page. So be sure to share your concerns with your partner. "Love needs to be communicated one way or another," says Alkazian. "If there is open communication in a relationship ... it can bridge the gap of understanding." Here, a few ways experts say people can show their love, without actually saying it.
1. They Talk About Your Future Together
If your partner is always talking about upcoming vacations, how much they'd like to move in with you, or what you plan to do together during the holidays, they're clearly in love.
"A partner who speaks of the future as if you are there with them is taking you into account in a real, long-term kind of way," Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "If the general discussion is about you two, together, it means that they see you as a part of their life." And if that's not love, what is?
2. They're Open And Vulnerable
It's always easier to open up around loved ones, so take it as a great sign if your partner shares their feelings, or comes to you when they're feeling down. "If your partner opens up ... to you and shows authentic vulnerability, it can often be an act of love," certified counselor Jonathan Bennett tells Bustle. "This is especially true if you know your partner rarely opens up to other people."
3. They Have Loving Body Language
Some people show their love by being physically close to their partners, and expressing love through comforting, close body language. "This doesn’t have to be sexual, but can include cuddling, holding hands, and long hugs," says Bennett. "Sharing physical touch is a major way many individuals communicate their love for other people."
4. Their Face Lights Up When They See You
If your partner's face lights up when you enter the room, it can speak volumes. "There are some things that are mighty difficult to fake, and this may be one of them," says Backe. "If you look at their face after you break a kiss, and you find their mouth smiling and their eyes alight ... there is a good chance their body is saying 'I love you' — even if their lips aren’t."
5. They're Interested In Your Day
Some partners show their significant other they care by taking the time to sit down and ask about their day — and showing genuine enthusiasm while doing so. "They may not say it out loud, but their actions speak for themselves: they want you close to them, [and] they take an active interest in you and your day-to-day," says Backe.
6. They Happily Join In On Family Activities
According to The Five Love Languages, some people show their love by spending quality time with their partners. So take, for example, all those times you've gone to family events together. As spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport tells Bustle, spending time with family can be a major act of love, as can curling up and watching TV or running a few errands together.
7. They Show Love By Giving Gifts
Gift giving is another way many people show love — especially when they can't say it out loud. "Many people have a hard time expressing their love verbally, so they find other ways to show their love," says Alkazian. "Loving words or direct expressions can leave people feeling open, exposed, or vulnerable to being hurt. Giving gifts, doing a loving act, or simply being together feels safer and more protected to many people."
8. They Finish Your Sentences
Can your partner finish your sentences, or predict an inside joke with eery accuracy? "This means that they 'get' you in a way that a casual friend or acquaintance doesn’t," licensed psychotherapist Dr. Jill Murray tells Bustle. "They understand how you feel and think." Even though they may not say aloud those three words, it's clear your significant other cares.
9. They Do Sweet & Helpful Things Every Day
If your partner loves you and views you as a bonafide partner, you might catch them going out of their way to make your life easier. (This is one of the aforementioned "acts of service" that may be their love language.) As Murray says, "They do little things that mean a lot to you — fill your car with gas, wipe down the shower door, play music in the car that they might not necessarily like but you do." Small actions like these show they've got your best interests at heart.
10. They Still Act Lovingly During Arguments
If you two can argue in a healthy way, and watch out for each other's feelings — even when you're angry — that can be an act of love. "Partners show their love when their [partner] is abrupt, irritable, and/or lashes out, by understanding, stepping back, and giving space and/or offering support," psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC tells Bustle. "They also show love when they defer to a partner's wishes or choice, even when it inconveniences them; and they show love by doing thoughtful little things that make their partner's day just a little easier, just because."
11. They Remember The Little Things
Even though many of us desire grand, sweeping gestures of love, it's important to remember it's more about the little things. As therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle, they might notice you're having a rough day and return home with your favorite snack, or text just to say they're thinking about you, or surprise you on some random anniversary you forgot. "It shows they are paying attention and really care."
It's normal to want to hear your partner say "I love you," but that's not the only way to express love, adoration, or affection. So keep an eye out for all the ways your partner shows they care, and don't be afraid to have a discussion about Love Languages. It can really help you get on the same page, and learn how to better express yourselves as a couple.