12 Romantic Gestures to Make Your Partner Feel Loved and Appreciated
No matter how long you've been together, it's important to make your partner feel loved. While your first instinct might be to plan a grand gesture, there are small romantic gestures to make your partner feel appreciated (which can end up being more impactful, according to Sarah Stukas, master of science, licensed clinical professional counselor, and therapist at Life Insight).
"People often go to grand gestures when they think of ways to express their love and appreciation, but consistency and authenticity go much further," she says.
If you're having trouble thinking of sweet gestures to make your partner feel loved, consider how your partner has expressed love to you. "We often demonstrate love in the ways we wish to be loved," says Stukas. For example, someone who is a gift-giver will likely appreciate a special gift. Similarly, if your partner does a lot of chores around the house, they might appreciate you helping with some of those tasks. (Refer to Gary Chapman's The 5 Love Languages for more details and insight.)
Going out of your way to make your partner feel special has a huge return on investment, Stukas says. "When we consistently make an effort to show love and appreciation to our partner, they're much more likely to do the same, and the system continues," she says. Try any of these 12 small romantic gestures to make your partner feel appreciated.
Team Up For Chores
While it may be more efficient to divide chores around the house, Stukas says there are positives to conquering your to-do list together. "We feel good when we believe we're in things together—that's the point of a relationship, right?" she says. "Going about household tasks together helps create feelings of validation and reciprocity in our relationship."
Think about it: folding the laundry or changing the sheets together is much more enjoyable than doing it alone while your partner surfs the internet.
Give a Big Hug
The simple act of showing physical affection can have a real impact on your partner's mood, according to a 2018 paper published in PLOS One. The findings indicate that hugs increase positive feelings and reduce negative ones on days when people experience relationship issues.
That's because hugs—and other forms of physical affection—can release certain feel-good hormones in our bodies. One is called oxytocin (also referred to as the "hug hormone") and it's known to promote feelings of love, bonding and well-being. The other two are dopamine and serotonin, both of which play massive roles in our feelings of happiness and pleasure. So if you're looking for a love gesture to make your partner feel special, give them a nice, big hug. (It'll make you feel better too.)
Check In Regularly
Due to more people working at home, many couples don't have their usual time apart. As such, it's important to regularly check in on your partner and discuss their needs so you can live harmoniously. Maybe they need to work in a separate room, or perhaps they'd prefer to go on a run alone in the morning.
"Having clear guidelines about each other's needs for space, work hours and quiet time can make those new work-from-home arrangements easier," she says. "For instance, if you always started dinner while your partner fed the dogs, ask yourselves if that still works for you." Whatever the case is, initiating this important conversation shows your care and concern for their feelings.
Plan a Date
Planning a date is a sweet gesture that will allow you to connect with your partner after a busy week. Your date can be free or extravagant, but whatever you do together, make it something where you can really enjoy each other's company and try new things together for some good bonding time. Bonus: check out some of these romantic date ideas and fun couples activities for inspiration.
Gaze Into Their Eyes
It's common knowledge that eye contact is essential for human connection. However, in 1997, an experiment by psychologist Arthur Aron showed just how powerful it can be as a romantic gesture. The subjects of the study were paired together, answered increasingly personal questions and then stared into each other's eyes for four minutes. Six months later, the two were married. Others have reciprocated the study (New York Times writer Mandy Len Catron tried it with her crush and they ended up head-over-heels for each other) and found similar results.
Eye contact is powerful because it synchronizes brain activity between two people, according to a study published in the Neuroimage journal. Subjects were asked to make prolonged eye contact with each other under various conditions while MRIs tracked their brain activity. The researchers found that mutual eye contact caused duos to become a "singular connected system." Subjects even started blinking at the same time and the same part of their brains activated after eye contact. So, if you want to make your partner feel loved, stare into their eyes. You'll feel closer in minutes.
Let Them Know You're Listening When They Speak
Showing your partner you're engaged while they speak can make them feel special. Eye contact is essential, but body language matters too. Turn your body to fully face your partner and uncross your arms. This small romantic gesture shows you're focused solely on them and open to what they're saying. Acknowledge what they say by nodding or speaking, and then by thoughtfully responding. Paying special attention to your S.O. when they speak will show them that you value what they have to say.
Put Down Your Phone
If your partner appreciates spending quality time together, give them your full attention. Put down your phone, turn off the television and focus on them. The distraction-free environment will allow you to have deeper, more meaningful conversations. Stukas says that social distancing measures lend themselves well to this particular gesture. "It's very rare to be in a time where things have slowed down, where you have unlimited one-on-one time and where you can be present and focus on deepening your connection," she says. "Enjoy it while it's here because life will speed up sooner than you think."
Create A Sanctuary For Them
Alone time is just as important as togetherness in a relationship. Even if you're in the house together, you can still give each other space. For a sweet gesture, draw your partner a bath (light candles and pour their favorite beverage), leave them alone to read their favorite book (turn on their favorite music for background ambiance) or take the dog for a long walk so they have the place to themselves (pick up takeout on your way home). It sounds counterintuitive, but the time apart will bring you closer together—and setting it up will show your consideration for their feelings.
Surprise Them With a Thoughtful Gift
A surprise gift can be a grand or small romantic gesture. The key word here is thoughtful. Give them something that relates back to their favorite food, drink, sports team or band. If you're having trouble choosing something for them, Stukas recommends giving them something to remind them of a memory. Think of happy moments like your first date, your engagement or your most recent trip. It will show them you're thinking of them, and it will be fun to reminisce on the good times you've had together.
Order Their Favorite Food
While spending time in the kitchen is a great couple activity to do together, getting a professionally-cooked meal delivered is a special treat. Surprise your partner by ordering their favorite take out—whether that's pizza, tacos or curry. Not only will they appreciate the night off from cooking and cleaning, but they'll also appreciate the thoughtfulness behind your action. Use a food delivery service like Postmates, Grubhub or DoorDash to get the food delivered right to your door and enjoy.
Let Them Pick the Movie or TV Show
Yes, it may be fun to binge-watch all the wedding planning movies right now. But letting them pick a series or movie to watch is a small gesture that goes a long way. It shows them that you're thinking of them and you care about their happiness. It's an easy way to make the evening all about them, which will make them feel special. Plus, it'll relieve you both of the "I don't know, what should we watch?" conversation that likely happens nightly.
Show Effort By Dressing Up
We fully endorse being completely comfortable with your partner, but if you typically where casual clothes, dressing up can be a sweet gesture and surprise for them. Taking the time to get yourself gussied up shows effort on your part.
Pick a night and put on whatever makes you feel confident and look your best—they'll absolutely love it (plus you'll feel great too). Round out the evening with a nice bottle of wine and a delicious meal. Don't worry—you can change back into sweats later on.