I have a hard time expressing my feelings, especially when they are the romantic kind. I am in my 28th year, and the last time I deeply liked someone, he received more text-sass than "I like you a lot." The way I treated him was not the way to tell someone how much they mean to you. No matter how patient a person is — shout out to that dude and others who have suffered my immaturity — not sharing your vulnerable feels will most certainly backfire and leave you an alone person (the terribly dark way I have started to refer to myself).
He moved, and that "relationship" faded into textversations and bi-annual hookups when it should have been shut down faster than Anthony Scaramucci's time in the White House. A year later, he got a girlfriend. I realized I had screwed myself over. I had pridefully pretended I didn't have feels when I really did, and now he was wifed up. I finally admitted to him how I felt, and my heart was torn up for a minute, but I also felt an enormous sense of relief.
Here's the thing about telling someone how much they mean to you: You have to do it. It's often scary, it's sometimes risky, but it's always necessary. Here are some ways to tell your partner how much they mean to you:
1. Surprise Them With A Present
I was going to try to avoid bring up the five love languages, but they are all too relevant when talking about how to show a partner you care. The 5 Love Languages is a book by Gary Chapman/internet phenomenon of sorts that identifies the five different "languages" people use to show their loved ones how they feel. (Definitely take the online quiz; it's really interesting. This is not an ad. It's just cool.)
The five love languages are "acts of service," "words of affirmation," "quality time," "physical touch," and "receiving gifts." So, while of course, you should get comfortable stating how you feel for your partner in words, getting them a thoughtful gift like concert tickets or a dinner can mean a lot. It's not shallow; it's real: If you are literally investing in someone, you care. This especially means a lot coming from a woman, as men are weirdly still expected to foot most tabs, even once you are dating. Plus, we all loved Santa. Be Santa.
2. Do Something Kind For Them
Yup, I'm fully going with the whole five love languages vibe here, so deal with it. When it comes to "acts of service" in Chapman's book, he's talking about actions speaking louder than words. For example, sometimes people tell their SOs that they are truly their one and only, but then cheat on the side, you dig?
I believe that doing is more important than saying. Actionable things — like deep cleaning your shared apartment while bae is away or showing up for a fundraiser they invite you to — are great ways to show that you legitimately care. You don't need to drop your life for your partner, but if you go out of your way to be there for them, they will connect the dots.
3. Spend Time With Them When It's Inconvenient For You
Don't get fired from your job, but taking off to be with your partner on their big 25 or simply opting to stay in on a weekend night together is a show of how committed you are. It's pretty simple: People make time for the people who are the most important to them. Telling your partner "I care about you" is important, but actually making the time for them will leave no doubt in their mind that you are on that level.
"Quality time" is the love language that I respond to the most. Dropping the meme-hunting to show up for your partner is a great move.
4. Touch Your Boo
We all know that touching and physical acts do not always indicate love because, well, hookups, friends-with-benefits, f*ckboys and girls, and so on. However, the love language Chapman calls "physical touch" simply means contact between you and your partner. Whether it's momentary or an actual sack session, touch = care.
I, admittedly, am not the touchiest of humans. I like my personal space bubble, but I also do love the feeling of getting a big hug or the empathy I feel when someone simply puts a hand on my shoulder. For some people, physical touch is the language that speaks to them most, so make sure to touch your boo (while also knowing that spooning is great, but does not mean true love).
5. Tell Them
While actions speak louder than words, "words of affirmation" are important in any and all relationships. Words serve as the concrete confirmation of what's going on inside you, as we humans can't read each others' minds. As I mentioned, I wish I could have gone back in time and when one particular gentleman would tell me, "I like you a lot," instead of saying, "No, you don't," I would have said, "I really like you, too."
I'm feeling a little sad just thinking about how often I didn't compliment or acknowledge what I have liked about my past partners in words. Not because anything would have changed — the timing was way off — but because I could have been super clear on putting how I felt out in the universe, and then I could have realized it wasn't a fit and moved on much faster.
All of the above ways to tell your partner how you feel about them are important to remember in different relationships, too. While you're probably not hooking up with your friends, you should tell them how much you appreciate their comfort during your recent job switch, or that they showed up to meet your new boo for dinner. Tell your family members how much you love them, too.
In summation, I would remind you to tell everyone you love how you feel, all the f*cking time, because life is truly strange and things can change in an instant. Now go forth and text your cutie something mushy.