While a sparkly piece of jewelry wrapped in a small box may be the go-to image of how to express love to your special someone, sometimes the most meaningful things cannot be boxed and neatly wrapped. In reality, there are countless things you can give and you can do in your relationship on a daily basis to convey how much you appreciate your loved one. These actions are actually quite small, but communicate so much. In the end, these are what fuels the health of the relationship. And, as a bonus, these behaviors do not necessarily involve a month’s salary.

A bouquet of flowers is nice, yet there are so many other ways to express affection and love and the effects can last long after the flowers have wilted. The little things, small relationship gestures, I argue, are some of the most powerful ways we can nurture and build our relationships.

What exactly are these gestures that are so wonderful? Certainly what gestures are meaningful to one person may not be as meaningful to the next. That said, the following actions communicate messages that are universal:

  • Reach out and touch your partner. Cuddle. Give a foot massage. Just because. Physical touch not only feels good, it stimulates the release of bonding hormones, which promotes closeness and relaxation
  • Compliment your partner. Never underestimate the power of saying something nice and genuine about your partner to your partner
  • Hear your partner. When your partner is sharing something with you, listen to your partner. What are they wanting you to know? Are they wanting you to be supportive to them? Try to acknowledge whatever you are hearing.
  • Recognize your partner’s accomplishments. Acknowledge when something good has happened to them, when they’ve been praised.
  • Thank your partner. Making a conscious effort to express gratitude can be a powerful component in all of our relationships.
  • Do something for your partner, just because. Just because you know it will be appreciated, just because it will make him or her smile. This can be a routine daily activity or a special occasion. Need some ideas? These need not be complex. Leave a post-it note somewhere your partner will see it. Send an unexpected text to say hello. Stop by his or her favorite pastry shop on the way home with a just-because treat. Unload the dishwasher, if this isn’t something typically delegated to you in your relationship. Bottom line is that you know your sweetie and you know what would mean something for them.

The take-away here is this: These behaviors promote connection and intimacy which are fundamental to relationship health. Connection and intimacy directly relate to greater relationship satisfaction, which of course has carryover into overall positive well-being.

Why are the little things so important for your relationship health?

When your date or partner does something kind, thoughtful, or special for you, no matter how small, it feels good. Performing small gestures be beneficial to a relationship because these behaviors are rich with communication and convey so much. Breaking this down a bit, doing something kind, or thoughtful, even if small:

  • Communicates respect for your partner. You may say to yourself, “My partner has been paying attention to what is important to me.” Essentially, respect = caring.
  • Conveys that your partner has put forth effort. Because of these gestures, you know that your partner is going out of his or her way to try. This only strengthens feeling secure in the relationship.
  • Tells you that your partner is listening. Your partner is attuned to bad days and positive moments and what would be meaningful to you in a particular situation.

All of this, taken together, promotes emotional closeness and intimacy, feeling secure in the relationship, and strengthens your bonds, connections, and overall intimacy.

The take home is that some of the most memorable things that partners can do for each other are these thoughtful and personalized gestures which communicate care or love. Oh, and one other thing, if you love your partner, let your partner know! Put down the phone and say, “I love you.”