Take note, ladies.
Words of affection are like chocolate buttercream cupcakes for the ears, right? There’s nothing quite like listening to the one you love wax poetic about their love for you and the ways you are special to them. That kind of attention can really make our hearts sing.
When it comes to experiencing love, we are all unique and complex people with equally unique and complex love languages. But to be sure, there are patterns, themes, and trends that resonate with most men’s experiences of feeling love.
Likewise, there are actions women can take that result in predictable outcomes — whether that’s having a guy fall deeper in love or watching him fall right out of love.
So how do you say “I love you” in a language your guy values and understands at his core?Knowing how to show a guy you love him is going to be a little different for everyone, but here are 6 actions — not just the words “I”, “love”, and “you” — that resonate with men worldwide to get you going:
1. Do acts of service.
“She just doesn’t love me anymore,” Jeff said.
In his mid-40’s, he’d been married to his wife for 27 years, and they seemed to me to be happy and compatible as an outsider looking in. So, I started digging.
“What’s missing?” I asked.
“I don’t know…” he replied.
“Did anything major happen?” I asked.
“Not that I can think of,” he replied.
“Does she say she loves you?”
“What would it look like if she showed her love for you?”
“I don’t know.”
“What did she used to do that she doesn’t do anymore?”
“Socks. She used to make sure I had new socks in my drawer. My black socks have all turned to gray. And she used to get my white shirts to the cleaners and back into my closet. She doesn’t do that anymore.”
Bingo! Simple! So simple, in fact, that it seems silly or inconsequential — but it’s not.
It’s that magical moment when a guy absentmindedly leaves an empty container of deodorant on the bathroom sink and when he goes for it the next morning, he finds a new tube in its place. Yeah, that’s love.
Acts of service are ways guys see we care for them. They feel tended to, special, and loved. And sometimes we stop doing these things because we get busy or we forget or we think he can do it himself (he totally can, but that’s not the point). It doesn’t always register for us that in his world, those little things are one of the ways he hears “I love you.”
This isn’t “clean up every mess/replace every old pair of socks/cook every meal” but rather “Here’s a small thing I know will make a big difference in your day that I can do for you to show you I love you.” There’s a lot of mileage between the two.
2. Engage in sex.
Speaking of acts, being his playmate in the bedroom (and out of it) is definitely a way to say “I love you.” One major contributor to a guy being at the top of his game is getting enough of what he needs in the bedroom, and you are his partner in this (as he is yours for getting what you need).
One difference between the sexes is that, often, women need to feel connected in order to want to have sex while men get connected through having sex. That piece is a bit of a conundrum, but by taking initiative in this area you’re showing him how you feel about him through a literal act of love — and that’s a language he definitely knows how to speak.
3. Show your appreciation.
“I love you” sure is nice, but what goes even further is showing (you’re picking up on the whole “show don’t tell” theme here, aren’t you) appreciation for what he provides.
Things like, “Wow! What a delicious dinner you made for us, thank you so much!” or “Thanks for picking up the kids. That totally saved me today” go super far because they’re tied to specific things he’s done or said.
Sometimes we feel that our partner doesn’t need appreciation for what he’s provided because, duh, he should already be doing these things (and maybe even more!).
I mean, look at all that you do for the family, right? When we look at things this way, however, it rarely leads to appreciation. Instead, it causes resentment. Vocally appreciating what your partner does provide fuels and inspires them to do even more.
4. Be okay with his process.
Does he load the dishwasher the way your mama taught you? Nope, he doesn’t. But do you know what? Those dishes don’t mind, and most of them will even come out pretty clean. And the ones that don’t can always be run through again. It’s okay. Really, it is.
If the way he folds the laundry or fluffs the couch cushions or does any other household chore is just too unnerving for you to stand and you’re compelled to teach him the more efficient method, then awesome, do it! But teach him the better way as if you were teaching a grown-up whom you admire, not a slightly stupid, 6-year-old child.
We were trained through sitcoms to make fun of him or belittle him instead of understanding and respecting his process. This is not additive — it’s damaging to any partnership and it does not say “we’re partners in this” or “I love you just as you are.”
5. Be happy and nice to him in front of other people.
His mom is in town and meeting you for the first time. You’re nervous, you want her to like you, and now she’s sharing embarrassing stories and making disparaging remarks about her son in front of you. What do you do?
Smile awkwardly and stay mute?
Say, “Aww, you sound like you love him. What I really admire about your son is…”
Agree with her so she’ll like you and give her ten new examples of what a knucklehead he is.
Option A is okay in a pinch but doesn’t bring much to the conversation.
Option C either buys you friendship with mom or shows her you have bad judgment, and your mate? Yeah, you’re now in the never-to-be-trusted camp for ganging up on him.
Answer: Option B.
6. Always have his back.
If his boss is over, don’t contradict your guy in the middle of dinner. Taking his side in front of other people is having his back. You can sort out the finer points of where you don’t see eye to eye when the two of you are in private.
It’s easy to be there for the good times, but to be his number one fan in the bad times and hold the candle of hope for him when he’s in doubt or struggling through one of life’s challenges is how he will experience your love.
Guys think that words are nice, but these six actions convey everything they need to know about your love for him, whether you say so out loud every day or not.
I’m Wendy Newman, a media-celebrated author & trusted dating, sex & relationship advisor. If you’d like to understand men, pick up the Myth of the Alpha Male here.
By Wendy Newman originally published on YourTango.com