I was raised in a very affectionate household. Hugs, kisses and “I love yous” took place multiple times a day. So when things started to get serious in my relationship, I assumed that those actions would be common. I expected to constantly be reassured of my boyfriend’s love with “I love you” text messages. I expected to be greeted every day with huge hugs and kisses and constant excitement! I expected to have my hand held every time we walked down the street together and for my face to flood his social media pages. When I didn’t get those things (or at least as often as I wanted them) I started to freak out. Sure, he payed lots of attention to me and sure he always had my best interest at heart but I needed his affection to validate that he cared about me as “more than just a friend.”
“After all this time, how could he still not love me?” “He only says ‘I love you’ before bed so he must not be interested.” “He doesn’t hold my hand in the street so he must be embarrassed to be seen with me!!”
These thoughts tortured me and, on more than one occasion, would cause tension in my relationship. While I thought that my boyfriend didn’t love me, the truth was that he just wasn’t raised the same way I was. His family is not big on hugs and kisses and “I love yous” as mine is. They express their love differently. So expecting my boyfriend to immediately understand how to be affectionate and express his emotions towards me (though deep and true) was like expecting me to suddenly know how to sew or understand rocket science or play professional golf. It was foreign territory to him. He just didn’t know how.
It was about 2 years into my relationship before this all finally started to make sense. I stumbled upon a podcast and the topic was “love languages.” The podcast explained the idea that everyone has a love language: some people need affection or intimacy, someone people need verbal validation, some people need actions, some people even need gifts in order to feel loved. The podcast discussed a book that was about the love languages and the premise of the book was that as a person in a relationship, it is your job to love your partner the way THEY want to be loved, not the way YOU want to be loved. This made so much sense to me. If we lived by this idea, I would have to show my love by refraining from saying “I love you” on a constant basis, and rather, allow my actions to speak louder than my words. On the contrary, he would have to learn to be a little more verbally expressive, and step out of his comfort zone in terms of affection.
After giving this some thought, I realized that there were so many other ways to say ‘I love you’ than just to say it. In fact, there are millions of ways to say it, but it all depends on the person receiving the message. A sure sign of love to me may not be a sure sign of love to everyone. While there are many alternatives to the phrase ‘I love you,’ here are 5 of my favorites:
- Do you need me to come over? I think this is such a great sign of love. If you’re having a rough night or just got home from a terrible day at work and someone offers to put their plans aside to be there for you during a difficult time, that is a great symbol of love.
- You should get some sleep. Love means caring about someone else’s success and well-being. If a person is more concerned with making sure you have the proper amount of rest to be functional rather than distracting you or keeping you awake for their own selfish reasons, they probably love you.
- You got this! Words of encouragement are huge signs of love. I think that people in relationships should really focus on building each other up and never tearing each other down. A simple “you can do this” means that someone really sees something special in you, and wants you to also see it in yourself.
- Call me when you get there. This means that someone cares about your safety. Sometimes friends say this to each other as well, but who cares? Good friends do love each other – so this is still a sign of looove. If a person wants to know about your whereabouts for safety purposes and not just to keep tabs on you, you got yourself a keeper!
- I just called to hear your voice. This one is probably my favorite. Nothing says “love” like a person who has nothing special to say, but just wants to hear your voice because it’s their peace and stress relief for the day. If someone calls you for no reason at all and just wants to “check in,” chances are, they love you.