Telling someone that he or she is special to you can feel scary, notes psychologist and relationship writer Yangki Christine Akiteng in her article “If You Love Someone, Should You Tell Them?” People tend to think in terms of their own egos, and worry that they will be rejected or embarrassed. Yet Akiteng points out that love is meant to be given freely, without strings. If you have someone special in your life, whether a romantic partner, a friend or a mentor, telling that person how important she is can lead to an even closer relationship. To find the right words to express your feelings, reflect on yourself as well as the other person.
Learn your love language and that of your loved one. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of “The Five Love Languages,” all humans show love in one of five ways: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, or Physical Touch. Many people fall into more than one category, but one is almost always primary. To make sure your message has the desired effect, choose a love language that the other person can understand and appreciate.
Deliver your message at the appropriate time in a carefully selected format. No one has time to listen in the middle of finals week, or when a work project is overdue. Some people are uncomfortable with face-to-face expressions of emotion, while others feel that written communication is impersonal. Combine your loved one’s love language with an awareness of his schedule and personal constraints to ensure that your message receives his full attention.
Personalize your message with heartfelt words, in-jokes and references to private moments. For example, if the person is a mentor, provide an example of a hard-fought lesson that has served you well. For your best friend, mention a time that the two of you did something silly or scary together. Your romantic partner might enjoy a reminder of a sweet present she gave you years ago.
Speak or write in “I” language, which focuses on your feelings. On ReachOut.com, the Inspire Ireland Foundation points out that communication gets tough when people credit others with their feelings. Even though your message is positive, avoid telling the person that she makes you feel a certain way. Instead, say things like, “I appreciate all the times you have been there for me.” Be ready to answer questions or clarify your thoughts.
Keep the message going throughout your daily life. Although everyone gets busy and overwhelmed, it is important to let others know you care. An occasional small gift, assistance with a project or an afternoon of coffee and conversation can reassure the other person that your words are genuine and your feelings will last.