How to Show Love to the People Around You
Love, Love, Love
Even the most Scrooge-like of us can find love within ourselves and others if we're willing to open up!
In this article, I share tips from my own slowly melting iceberg of love to help you share affection with those who matter in your life.
Expect pictures, practical tips, and new ways to think.
Types of Relationships
There are even more types of relationships than types of love. Here are a few key ones:
- Casual Friends and Cohorts
- Close Friends
- Romantic Partners
Types of Love
There are so many different types of love in the world. Here are a few basic types upon which I will expand.
A Note on the "Monetary/Gifts" Type of Love
You can't buy love. I'm sorry, but you can't. However, you can demonstrate your love with tokens of appreciation. These sometimes require some form of financial currency, but gifts can be intangible, too. This is a conglomerate category of the things you can't say or do. Ya dig?
Many School and Work Friends Become Close Friends.
How to Show Love to Casual Friends
In school, works, or your ordinary life, there are people you might care for and appreciate, but who are not as close as your best friends or family. It can be difficult to see how to share love with these people without rewriting your relationship boundaries completely.
It's not that hard, really! Here are a few ideas based on the 5 different types of love described above.
It's not always appropriate to touch casual friends as there could be misinterpretations of your intent. If your classmate is crying, coworker is having a terrible day, or dentist just got engaged, you can tap on the shoulder, hug, or pat on the back. These help them feel comforted, appreciated, and cared for, even if you're not very close.
If you feel affection, say it! Harder than it sounds, I know, but you can always say, "You've always been such a wonderful person to have in my life," or other compliments. Share your appreciation and insight. Do they look awesome today? Tell them! I bet they don't believe it.
Nonverbal communication is often through body language. One of the best ways to show love without words is to smile! Smile, relax your forehead, open your body (arms on hips, relaxed posture, feet directed towards them). This will show that you are comfortable around them and enjoy their company.
It's surprising just how important the written word has become in our digital age. Through email, text, social media messages, online recommendations, and a whole host of other forms, we can share our love. I always leave raving reviews of great service at restaurants as I know it makes the server's day and proves to their manage that they're an asset. Post a positive comment on the company's Facebook page if you wan to compliment a great employee somewhere (restaurant, salon, auto shop, etc). Send off a text message ("Thinking of you today. Good luck with the interview!"), or shoot out an email.
On special occasions like birthdays or holidays, give a small gift to these people in your life. It could be as simple as giving your really helpful postal worker a gift card or giving your secretary an awesome box of chocolates.
Even better: give a gift out of the blue! If your classmate complimented your scarf, make them one. It's a little touch that shows a lot of meaning.
Many Great Friendships Form in Childhood.
How to Show Love to Close Friends
Close friends are some of the best parts of life. As they say, "you can't pick your family, but you can pick your friends." There's also a version of that including a reference to picking your nose, but that's irrelevant. Ahem.
There are countless ways to show love to close friends, and I hope you share many of these on a regular basis!
Unlike casual friends, you are often more than welcome to touch your close friends. From hugging (even in public) to holding their hair back after a long night out, close friends are people you can treat like siblings. By that I mean that you can get away with behaviors that would be inappropriate with nearly anyone else.
Tell your friends you care every time you see them. Whether it's an "I miss seeing you at the gym" or a "I can't even imagine life without you," tell them exactly how you feel. If you open that door of verbal affection, they'll start sharing how much they care about you, too. Nothing is better than knowing that your feelings are returned.
Body language is everything. Give your close friends real smiles and demonstrate wide, open body language. But, you can also feel comfortable enough to show your insecurities with your close friends. In fact, crying or showing your pain is a way of showing love. If you're comfortable and secure enough with your friend that you'll show your deep, dark pains, they see that you trust them. That's huge!
Text or email your close friends often. Some close friends even have their own little languages and inside jokes. Send reminders of those past experiences and bonds to reaffirm your connection and build more in the future. These texts usually mean nothing to anyone else, like "Wearing my leopard lady pants today. Mrow!" See? That makes no sense to you, but my hypothetical best friend would wet their pants with laughter to read that.
Okay, so you don't have to give your close friends money, but you can show support of their projects, campaigns, and goals with financial donations. Those don't necessarily show love, but they demonstrate your unwavering support of everything you do. It says, "if you're in, I'm in!"
Gifts are even better ways to show love to close friends as they can feed off of past experiences, pave the way for new events (tickets to a show, ski passes, or scheduled spa dates), and be sweet tokens of remembrance.
"The only way to have a friend is to be one."
Take Advantage of the Connections With Your Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles.
How to Show Love to Family
I love family. Fortunately, I have a good family. Since I know just how blessed I am, I do my best to go out of my way to express my love. How else will they know I think they're awesome?
Here are 5 different ways to show love to your family:
Families are allowed to show love through touch very openly. Siblings hug, kiss, cry, cuddle, and do all other kinds of touch to share love. The same goes with parents, aunts, uncles, and often even cousins. Sure, there are some types of touch that are kind of inappropriate, but families tend to get that way.
Show your love through touch by giving hugs, bumping into your siblings as you walk next to them, or patting relatives on the back. These are little things that can say a lot.
Families tend to become more stilted when it comes to putting their affections in spoken words. Other times, they can't go more than a few sentences without doling out "I love yous." That's not a bad thing at all. Say how you feel regularly and openly. Let your Mom know you think she's awesome and you miss her. These words go extremely far with family, and can even undo many past hurts.
With family, you don't even have to worry about monitoring your body language. Be yourself. Share your love with smiles, relaxed body language, and supportive behaviors.
I recommend that everyone writes at least one letter to their beloved family members in their life. I'm a huge fan of snail mail, especially written proclamations of love. I send my grandparents and parents cards and letters that say, "Life is good here, but I miss you." There's something so wonderful about having these words of love in written, printed form, and they're usually loved more than any earthly gift.
Many families exchange gifts during the holidays, like Christmas and birthdays. Although it becomes somewhat expected that your Aunt Marge sends you $5 every December 25th, you can use these times to do something a little unexpected. Give meaningful gifts to remind the other person just how much you do care.
With family, you can even make bigger gifts of things like vehicles, houses, jewelry, technology, and down payments. This might not always be recommended and it does depend on the individuals involved, but parents and children often give and receive very big signs of affection.
Let Your Love Rain Down.
Did You Know?
You have an infinite reserve of love.
Unlike a tub of ice cream or box of chocolates, there is no end to the amount of love you can feel. In fact, the more love you give, the more you create. You can't give out or receive too much love.
So, share more love! There's plenty.
Often, Romantic Relationships Are the Strongest Bonds We Have.
How to Show Love to Romantic Partners
Oh, there are so very, very many ways to share your love with your romantic partner(s)! This list could go on and on and on, so I'll provide a few basic tips.
With your significant other, you can get away with pretty much any type of touching. Some might be better behind closed doors than in public, but really, this all depends on the relationship (and who's watching).
Touch your partner often! This shows you're thinking of them, you're attracted to them, and you support their every decision. Touch goes further than many other elements in romantic relationship and can not be underestimated.
Profess your love regularly. Before bed, say "I love you." Before work, say it again. Pair your physical affection with terms of endearment every time. Oh yeah, and if you have some sort of profound feeling, like "I feel like my life is complete with you," SAY IT. You have no idea how much these sorts of statements mean to others when you let your guard down enough to say them.
With romantic partners, you can be openly expressive. Show the traditional types of smiles and open language, but you can also incorporate elements of arousal and attraction, Since I don't want to scare away Google ad traffic with anything too explicit, here's a link on ways to show physical attraction with your romantic partners.
Some of the most touching literature we have comes in the form of love letters. Little else will budge a cold heart like a touching, melting love letter. These make people weep with happiness and joy. It's awesome!
Write love letters, leave notes around the house, send texts and emails, messages on the steamed bathroom mirror, marks in the sand, or whatever else you can. Written feelings sometimes show love better than spoken ones as they feel more permanent and easier to remember. Try it!
Not that you should start throwing money at your significant other, but small and grand gifts can speak volumes. As an Antiques Roadshow fanatic, I've seen many stories of couples who enjoyed but left a piece at a specific antique store or flea market only to be gifted with it later as a token of love. If you see them fawning over something in particular, give it to them. I surely don't expect you to do this every time, but how lovely would it be to receive a gift you never even knew you mentioned! It shows that you're watching, listening, and caring. Beautiful!
Honor the Parent-Child relationship.
How to Show Love to Children
Although I am not a mother, I am a daughter. My parents show their affection often, and I've come to appreciate those little touches. Oh yeah, and my Mom will weep if she reads this. Love you, Mom!
Here are a few ways to share love with your children:
So, even if my Mom hugs me too much when she sees me, I never complain (in earnest). Sometimes, my Dad will come over and pat me on the head like he did when I was a little girl. Although there are many ways to show affection and love to your children, those little pats and hugs are constant reminders of just how much you feel.
You can show love to your children in so many ways, especially verbally. Of course, you can say the usual ("I love you," "I'm proud of you," "It makes me happy to see you happy"), but I love having regular, ordinary conversations with my parents. I like to know that they are human, and that they see me as a (semi-)functioning adult. They tell me about their feelings and thoughts, open up potentially vulnerable areas in their hearts, and trust that I will both appreciate and benefit from those moments.
One thing I love about my parents is that they never hesitate to smile, cry, or show their feelings around me. For one, it teaches us all that it is good to share our emotions, but it also reminds me just how much I matter. When I graduated college, my Mom and Dad cried like babies. They were proud that their beloved child achieved a benchmark in her life. Those experiences give me goosebumps and remind me how much I am loved. Those are the moments that I always go back to.
My parents tell me all the time just how much they love me, how proud they are of my choices and decisions, and that they're happy when I'm happy. Emails and notes that say as much remind me of how loved I really am. Heck, even my "Hey, did you feed the cat before work this morning?" emails are followed by "Love you!" You can never say it, or type it, too often.
Although I never like to ask for money, sometimes those random $20 and $50 appearances in my bank account can make a huge difference. I'll get an email with a "I noticed you seemed stressed about money lately. Here's something to keep your going!" These little moments show me that my parents see what's going on and care about my well-being.
Parents seem to throw gifts at their children. I enjoy that (of course), but I really enjoy smaller, more meaningful gifts like time together, family heirlooms, or items that remind me of an experience or history. Those are the gifts I cherish whereas the other items can become clutter in an already cluttered world. Give less, but give more.