Love In Action: Why Words Might Not Be Enough

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox
Updated February 21, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

There are many ways of falling in love and five well-known love languages. Although it can be common to express love through phrases like "I love you," you may also express love through your actions. Love is a chemical reaction in the brain and body, and how you react to the love you feel can be regarded as a "loving action." 

Love can be a verb and a noun. For example, loving someone is an action, and you can feel love as an emotion. Some individuals might also consider love to be an active choice.

Learn research-based techniques of expressing healthy love

What does "love" mean? 

You may hear the word "love" in many varying circumstances. People could use it to refer to food, animals, situations, and ideas. For example, you may love your pets, ice cream, and traveling internationally. Knowing what love means in every situation can seem confusing. 

Since love can be repeated and commonly used in daily situations, saying that you love someone may not mean as much to them when you also say that you love pizza or their perfume. If their love language is not words of affirmation, expressing verbal love might not connect with their heart. 

Ads might also utilize the word or concept of love to sell products and services. Emotion-based ads and content could increase the effectiveness of selling a service or product. It may paint a romanticized idea of love or cause love to feel more straightforward than it might be in relationships. Some people might also say they love someone without being sure or lie about feeling the love when they know they don't. 

Love in action 

For many individuals, showing love through action feels more validating, understandable, and meaningful than verbal expressions. They might also feel that actions are more challenging to fake or lie about. 

Love as an action can be expressed in several ways. For example, you may feel loved if someone spends quality time with you, spends the holidays with you, or tries your favorite activities. Others might feel loved by favors, such as someone putting gas in their car's tank or buying them a snack when they're stressed. For some people, gift-giving or getting can feel like an expression of love. For others, physical touch expresses love, such as a hug, cuddling, or sex. 

Some individuals want to receive love through words of affirmation. They might want to hear why you love them instead of the fact that you love them. A long letter, cute loving notes around the house, or a meaningful speech about love can be inspiring to these people. To know what someone enjoys, ask them what makes them feel loved. You can also take a love languages quiz together to simplify it if either of you is confused.


Ways to show love with action 

If you want to put love into action, there are a few methods to show love. Try to find out what speaks the most to a person before acting. If you're unsure or the person doesn't understand what makes them feel loved, you can try a few strategies. 

Prioritize what they enjoy 

When you love someone, consider partaking in activities or hobbies they enjoy. Someone might appreciate you watching their favorite movie with them, watching them play video games, or talking about their favorite subjects. 

You can also continue to do the activities you enjoy. However, working to show interest in someone may show love. It may communicate to them that you care about more than what you prioritize in your own life. 

An example of this could be going to a baseball game together if you don't like sports or hanging out at the mall, even if you hate shopping. You may not be partaking in the activity because you would choose to do it but instead doing it because the person that you love enjoys it. Selflessness and compromise can be effective ways to show love in action. It may mean a lot to them when you choose to put their desires or needs first. 

Show love creatively 

It may feel easy to get in the habit of telling someone you love them at certain times of the day. It could be when you're getting ready to end a phone call or going to bed. However, you can communicate love creatively and switch up your routine. 

For example, you might send a text message in the middle of the day to tell someone that you love them and are thinking about them. You could also leave sticky notes with compliments on the bathroom mirror or around the house. Or you could leave a romantic letter on your partner's windshield before they go to work. 

Look for ways to help them

When you love someone, try to anticipate their needs when you can. It may make them feel that you understand and know them profoundly. Think about what they might need to get ready before a busy day or something they might need from the store that they haven't asked you for. 

Look for ways to offer practical favors. For example, you can visit the grocery store or do other errands for them to ease up their day. Or you can help them with chores or other tasks on their to-do list. For example, if they need to bake biscuits for a bake sale but don't have much time, help them make biscuits or organize other aspects of the sale.

Learn research-based techniques of expressing healthy love

Be close to them

There are ways that you can physically show people that you love them. Regarding physical touch, ensure you have enthusiastic consent and are in an intimate relationship. Not everyone is comfortable with being touched by surprise. You can have a conversation about this with your partner. 

Physical touch may not only involve sex. You can also try the following activities: 

  • Sit next to them 

  • Rub their shoulders when they're stressed

  • Offer a massage

  • Give a long hug

  • Cuddle

  • Hold hands in public

  • Kiss their cheek, forehead, or nose

Foot rubs and back massages may communicate love after a long or stressful day. 

Remember the early stages of love 

Love might feel simple to express in the early stages of a relationship. However, as a relationship progresses, you might feel settled into a routine. If you want to ensure that you continue showing love, think about how you acted at the beginning of the relationship. Look at old photos or videos of memories with your partner to gain inspiration. 

Look back and analyze the differences between how you used to show love and how you show it now. If you find out that you're not acting the same as you used to, start acting that way again

Action doesn't always necessarily mean love 

While love can be expressed through healthy actions, the concept might have limitations. For example, someone might perform specific actions out of kindness, necessity, or friendship. To know if someone loves you, it might be most beneficial to ask them and note the circumstances around your relationship. 

Also, note that sex may not conflate with love. People can have sex without being in love. Even if they may say they love you during sex, pay attention to their actions outside of a sexual context. 

Counseling for expressing love 

If showing love is a struggle, consider speaking with a mental health professional. A specific situation from your past may make you uncomfortable in communicating your love to someone else. Try to be compassionate with yourself if this is the case. Working through past hurts and experiences may allow you to show up authentically in your current relationships. 

In therapy, you may gain professional communication skills that you can use to improve your relationship and strategies to safeguard yourself. If you face barriers to treatment, you can also find counseling online. Online therapy may allow you the option of phone, video, or live chat sessions with a licensed counselor. Additionally, you can attend counseling from a location that feels safest for you. 

Studies have shown that online therapy can aid people with difficulties expressing themselves due to social anxiety or other concerns. For example, a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helped treat individuals with social anxiety. The study's results indicate that symptoms associated with social anxiety were significantly reduced at a follow-up five years after the program. Through platforms like BetterHelp for individuals or ReGain for couples, you may be matched with a therapist that meets your preferences and specializes in a concern you're hoping to target. 

Counselor reviews

“I always look forward to my therapy session with Donna. She helps in concisely clarify my thoughts and allows me to express myself more. The way I think tends to spiral into a cycle and chatting with Donna helps me to identify the signs of this to escape the cycle before it overly affects my well-being.” 

“Sarah had helped me to feel more confident about myself and what I want to activate. Also, make me feel confident again to be able to express myself without feeling scared to be judged. Thank you!!” 


Love may be more than a noun. Love as a verb can be a choice and an action, and showing that love can mean choosing measured behaviors that communicate how you feel to someone you care about. If you want further support in understanding love, consider reaching out to a counselor for guidance.

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