There's nothing more special than hearing those three small words — I love you — for the first time, especially when you feel the same way. But what does it mean if you've been dating someone for a while, have developed a deep connection with them, and yet
they still haven't said "I love you"?
According to experts, there's usually no need to worry. Some people just aren't the best at expressing themselves verbally, which is why you might look out for other ways to tell if
someone has deeper feelings for you, including physical cues.
"Expressions of love come in many forms,"
Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sex and relationship expert, tells Bustle. And it's not just limited to the Five Love Languages, either. These are the go-to ways people typicalky like to give and receive love in relationships. For instance, some like to show they care by doing acts of service, while others like to give their partner time and attention.
According to O'Reilly, some folks express love and care through public declarations (social media posts), physical affection (a gentle hand on your back), texts (sending cute emojis), email (forwarding a cat video they know you’d love), attentive listening (allowing you to vent), or thoughtfulness (saving you a bite of something delicious they had at lunch).
While so many of us want to hear
words of affirmation from our partners, she says, not everyone is comfortable expressing how they feel verbally — at least not early on in a relationship. If that describes your partner, you may have to look for other special ways they express their love, like the ones listed below.
They Make An Effort To Touch You Throughout The Day
nonsexual touch is important for maintaining intimacy, and it very well may be the way your partner shows they care. They might give you an extra squeeze when they're holding your hand, or sneak up behind you for a hug, Bethany Ricciardi, a sex educator and relationship expert, tells Bustle.
You can also keep an eye out for body language cues. "Are their feet facing you while you talk, or are they standing up straight and making eye contact? If so, they're drawn to you," Ricciardi says. This is even more telling if your partner's love language is physical touch. Even if they're not saying "I love you" with words, they may be showing it through physical affection.
You're The First Person They Want To Share News With
Being in a relationship means being part of a team. Your wins are their wins, and their losses are your losses.
If your partner makes it a point to share both good and bad news with you before anyone else, they already see you as their teammate even if they're not saying it
Angelisa Almanzar, a love and relationship coach, tells Bustle, "This is someone who sees you as a permanent fixture in their life and has developed a deep bond." People want to share important things with the important people in their life.
Also, if your partner is turning to you first when they're going through a tough time, it means
they trust you enough to be open and vulnerable with you. In order to have an intimate and deeper connection, vulnerability is key.
They'll Try To Maintain Contact As Much As They Can
While anything phone-related doesn't exactly scream love, "something as simple as a 'good morning' text can show someone has deep feelings for you,"
Dresean Ryan, a relationship expert, tells Bustle, especially if they send messages like clockwork.
When it comes to relationship success, consistency is key. It's hard to form a deep bond with someone who pops in and out of your life whenever they choose.
If your partner makes the effort to
stay connected with you in some way every day, this shows that you’re always on their mind and they want to be a part of your life. They actually care about getting to know you and what goes on in your life. Someone who isn't that serious about you won't always bother to make the effort.
They Remember The Important Details
These can be dates that mean a lot to you, conversations you've had about your family, the first song that played on the radio when you drove in the car together, or where every scar and freckle is on your body. It's easier for someone to remember the details when
they're interested in you. So when someone remembers everything from the little things to the big, it very well might mean they love you.
According to Ricciardi, at the very least, it shows that your partner is listening and paying close attention to you. They're eager to learn everything they can because you're important to them. "They may not even realize they're doing it," she says. "They just care so much they can't help but remember the little things when it comes to you."
When someone loves you, they'll know when something is off. "If you spend enough time with someone you'll find yourself caring deeply and your mood can very easily be affected by theirs," Ricciardi says. "Emotions are contagious, especially when you care for the other person."
If you're having a bad day, they'll instinctively know. That's because empathy naturally takes over. "When you love someone, you are happy for their happiness, and sad for their sadness," Ricciardi says. More often than not, you can't even control it.
They're Proud To Have You In Their Life
If their friends and family know you two are together, your partner is clearly very proud to have you in their life.
"Even if they haven’t said, 'I love you' yet, wanting to show you off and to get approval from parents (no matter how old a partner is), means that they care for you enough to see a future with you," April Masini, a relationship expert and author, tells Bustle. If your partner is bringing you into their world, it's a sure sign they're not only proud to be with you, but they also have deep feelings for you.
If you're not quite there yet, their social media can also say a lot.
According to Ricciardi, someone who likes posting photos with you on social media, and likes highlighting how great you are to their friends and family, loves being with you. If not, they wouldn't be doing those things.
But keep in mind, everyone is different. As Ricciardi says, not everyone is going to be super public with their lives on social media. As long as they're not keeping you a secret, your relationship is probably heading in the right direction.
Someone who has deep feelings for you will find ways to be around you as much as they can. But most importantly,
they'll stick around when things get tough.
All relationships go through ups and downs. When you're with someone who has deeper feelings for you, you won't have to worry about them leaving during a fight or
breaking up with you after a bad night out together.
As Ricciardi says, "You know you can rely on them because you're both in this together." Someone who sticks around to take care of you and the relationship is someone who not only loves you, but respects you.
They Don't Get Weird When It Comes To Talking About The Future
Your partner may not say it, but if they can comfortably
talk about the future with you without clamming up and getting weird, it's a sign they do love you — or at the very least are starting to get there.
It can be subtle, too. You might notice that they make jokes about where they'll propose to you one day or you might discuss the names of your future children.
They may even bring up doing something in the short-term, like going away for your birthday or doing something over the holidays.
"Someone who cares deeply for you will start talking about future plans with you,"
Michelle Baxo, an international love coach and dating expert, tells Bustle. "You'll know it’s a healthy love when they take careful consideration of your personal dreams and ambitions, too." Someone who tries to avoid talking about the future completely may not be committed enough to stay.
They'll Say "I Love You" In Other Ways
If someone loves you but hasn't said the words,
Julie Spira, a dating coach, tells Bustle they may beat around the bush and say things that infer it. Instead, you might hear things like, “I’ve never felt this way about someone before" or "you make me so incredibly happy."
You can, however, feel free to ask them for clarification, if you're wondering about your relationship's future, or if your love is one-sided.
Ultimately, though, when it comes to relationships, it's important to keep in mind that "actions speak louder than words," Ricciardi says. Chances, you'll be able to tell if your relationship is strong, in a multitude of other ways.
Experts: Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sex and relationship expert Bethany Ricciardi, sex educator and relationship expert Angelisa Almanzar, love and relationship coach Dresean Ryan, relationship expert April Masini, relationship expert and author Michelle Baxo, international love coach and dating expert Julie Spira, dating coach