How To Express Love

Medically reviewed by Lauren Fawley , LPC
Updated April 30, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Expressing love can be done in many different ways, and individuals might have varying "love languages." You can show appreciation to a friend, family, spouse, or partner through touch, words, actions, quality time, gifts, and simply by giving them compliments. Many people consider saying "I love you" one of the most direct ways of telling someone you care. However, you can try other methods as well.

Explore new ways to express your love

Benefits of expressing love 

Showing love allows you to meet social needs for love and belonging, as outlined in Maslow's hierarchy of needs pyramid. Additionally, many psychological studies list social connection and positive feedback as essential for physical and mental health. We often learn about love and care when we are babies and children, depending on how our caregivers meet our needs. If love isn't expressed or our needs aren't met as kids, we may develop insecure attachments and struggle with adult relationships. 

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

Love and gratitude may not have to be expressed in the same way for every person and every situation. However, it can show someone else that you care and value their place in your life. Additionally, it may improve the health of you both.

Nonverbal expressions of love

In some cases, individuals might make a point of expressing love through their actions. Non-verbal expressions of love may involve physical expressions of affection. These might be subtle, such as giving your partner a back rub when they are tired, trying to be physically close, holding hands, hugging, or planning a fun activity for you both to do together.

You can also try to express non-verbal love through your body language, such as smiling or leaning toward someone. Choosing to spend quality time with someone but not necessarily touching is another way to express care. 

Verbal expressions of love

"I love you," or other loving phrases can be verbal love. Some people might feel loved through other phrases like "thank you," "I miss you," or "you're important to me." Giving someone words of encouragement during a difficult time can also help them feel loved. You can also welcome your partner into family conversations or express love to a friend by telling them how much you value their friendship. 

Bragging about your loved one is another way to demonstrate love. Talking about your loved one's accomplishments can ensure your partner feels and understands how much you care for them. You can do this when you introduce your partner to friends, family members, and coworkers or post a photo of them and caption it in a way that shows your appreciation.  

Creative expressions of love

If non-verbal acts or verbal expressions aren’t feeling like enough, consider creating something for the people you love. Creating a gift can communicate devotion and thoughtfulness, especially if you put time and effort into it. You can give love to people in the following creative ways: 

  • Write them a poem
  • Create a scrapbook
  • Create jewelry or a locket with a photo of you both 
  • Create a photo memory book to celebrate major moments in your relationship
  • Create a relationship time capsule to open in the future
  • Exchange a laugh together by creating something that relates to an inside joke
  • Write letters for your partner to open at different moments in their life 
  • Create a playlist of their favorite songs and listen to it together

Exploring love languages

Learning to recognize your love language may help you determine what forms of expression you prefer. It can also help you identify or relate to the love languages of others.

The five love languages include:

  • Physical touch
  • Acts of service 
  • Words of affirmation 
  • Receiving gifts 
  • Quality time

Each of these can represent a unique way to give and receive love. Differing love languages can initially cause friction within the relationship, as one or both partners might not feel appropriately loved and seen. Love languages are not ways to determine who is low maintenance; they are tools to help couples acknowledge and navigate the complexities of love.

If your partner wants physical touch (such as hugs, kisses, or cuddling while watching a film), but you want quality time (perhaps you value undivided attention and long conversations about the said film), both of you can consider practicing the love language of the other when giving love, as long as it doesn’t make either party feel overwhelmed. Note that consent is critical when giving a physical touch. It's important to talk to a partner about what they feel comfortable with and respect the boundaries they establish.

Explore new ways to express your love

When expressing love may be unhealthy

In some instances, expressions of love may be unhealthy. In unrequited love or non-consensual relationships, do not try to express love without prior consent. For example, your friend might not be interested in romantic forms of love. If they express their disinterest and you try to send them a romantic letter, or inappropriate message, invade their personal space, or send a gift to their workplace, it could be considered harassment or stalking. In these cases, it's essential to respect the person’s boundaries, and in some instances, walk away from the relationship entirely.

If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7.

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

Therapy as a tool for healthy love

Expressing love can be multifaceted and varied. Each expression might depend on your relationship with your loved ones, your intimacy levels, and the depth of your love. There is no single way to correctly express your feelings, as long as it is healthy and consensual. The best way of expression for one relationship may not be the same for another.  Some parts of the relationship might see fewer expressions of love, as in moments of frustration or transition. Others might include grand expressions, such as a proposal or a wedding day. 

Many relationships can have ups and downs. If you're having trouble coming up with ways to say I love you daughter and son, therapy can be an effective way to learn ways to express love and strengthen your relationships.  Couples therapy can be difficult to arrange with an in-person therapist when you and your partner have busy schedules, so you might benefit from trying online counseling. 

A recent study indicates that couples who work with an online counselor find the format less judgmental than in-person therapy and as effective as other methods. Participants said that internet-based therapy allowed them to focus on the therapeutic process and offered a more robust sense of control and comfort than traditional face-to-face therapy. You can decide whether to partake in video, phone, or live chat sessions with your licensed therapist through online counseling. You and your partner can also gain worksheets and resources to support you in your relationship.

Takeaway

Expressing love can be essential for health and wellness. Learning new ways to express love in all your relationships can be a healthy way to show you care. If you're interested in learning therapeutic and professional techniques for healthy relationships, consider reaching out to a counselor for more information. 

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