Let Your Actions and Words Reflect Your Heart
Love is one of those emotions so personal and intense that finding the right words or actions to convey it can sometimes seem nearly impossible. Wondering whether your friend, child, partner or loved one understands what you feel and shares similar emotions can be enough to paralyze even the most confident person. Intentionally express your love in multiple ways and act from your heart, and make love a way of life in your relationships so that it cannot be mistaken.
Across different cultures, ages and genders, eye contact communicates even when words fail. Practice looking yourself in the mirror when you are experiencing different emotions, and you will begin to recognize how love looks and become more comfortable holding a gaze. Look your loved one in the eyes when you speak to her. Your simple glance of love could be enough to show love and quell fear on your child's first day of kindergarten. Tear-filled loving eyes gazing into a friend's eyes when she is struggling conveys your empathy, care and concern.
People have different comfort levels when it comes to touch. Children who are naturally drawn to cuddling might receive your love in a powerful way through a hug on a challenging day. Your partner could long for you to cuddle on the couch as you watch a favorite show together before bedtime. Maybe your best friend wants you to put your hand on hers as you both pray or talk about something meaningful. When in doubt, ask if it is OK to hug or touch before you do.
When you notice something positive about someone, use your words to express your love and tell them so. When your daughter automatically puts away her toys instead of throwing a tantrum, let her know that you notice and like the way she did that. If your mother makes you feel loved with her words of compassion when you reach out for support, share your love in return and let her know. When appropriate, use emoticons to express how you are feeling in text communication so that even when people cannot see or hear your emotions directly, your words still convey the feeling of love you want to share.
It's a warm and loving feeling when someone clears their schedule simply to spend time with you one-on-one. Without the distraction of a group or the need to pay attention to lots of people at once, it's easier to share deep conversations. Planning alone time with the people you love gives them the gift of having a memory to call on during lonely or difficult times. Your love plants a seed that lasts far beyond that moment.
Gifts From the Heart
Most expressions of love are totally free, but sometimes a gift says what your words or actions alone cannot express. When you go for a hike, look for heart-shaped rocks to add to your friend's collection. Purchase the rare antique your spouse has been saving for but will not buy for himself. Your best friend's favorite photo of her mother could make a beautiful canvas to hang in her home. Random handwritten letters to a friend working overseas brings a touch of home and your love to where they are. Let your gifts come from the heart, and they will be expressions of love more than simple material things.
Lend a Hand
When your child, partner or friend is feeling overwhelmed, consider it an opportunity to express your love by helping out. Join your child in cleaning his room, do the laundry for your partner, or babysit your best friend's children, so she can enjoy some time to care for herself. As you remove the burden from your loved one's load, you show her in no uncertain terms how you feel about her.
Everyone has a slightly different background and preferences for receiving love. Sometimes you can pick up clues from behavior. The friend who is always complimenting or giving gifts probably wants the same in return. The child who tells you that you are her favorite mommy ever probably wants to hear how special she is to you, too. Other times, it's harder to guess what people prefer. Be intentional about expressing your love in multiple ways until you know your loved one well enough to understand her preferences. For example, when you see your friend, look her in the eyes and say something loving as you give her a hug; then pull her aside to ask her how she's doing and offer to find a place to sit and talk. In a matter of a few seconds, you have expressed love in multiple ways that are unmistakable.
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- TIME: Forget Words, a Lot of Millennials Say GIFs and Emojis Communicate Their Thoughts Better Than English
- Psychological Bulletin: Gaze and Eye Contact: A Research Review
- Roeper Review: Communicating Love: The Role of Attachment Styles in Pathways to Giftedness
- International Journal of Intercultural Relations: Communicating Love: Comparisons Between American and East Asian University Students
- Communication Research Reports: Speaking the Language of Relational Maintenance: A Validity Test of Chapman's (1992) Five Love Languages
- Psychology Today: 10 Ways to Express Love
Anne Kinsey is a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach and missionary, residing in rural North Carolina. She is the founder of Love Powered Life, a nonprofit organization with the mission of creating loving community for trafficking survivors and their families. Anne has enjoyed writing for publications like Working Mother, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, Bizfluent and Career Trend. She resides in rural North Carolina with her husband, three children and a house full of furry friends.