If your partner has ever brought you a blue Gatorade when you were grossly hungover or helped you carry your bags up the stairs, you may already know the joys of the little things in life. Barring those square wooden signs from the Hallmark store or a country song about your dad teaching you to drive stick, the little things do sometimes mean the most — especially when it comes to dating. If you're thinking you really appreciate your boo's small gestures, it's natural to wonder how to encourage your partner to be more considerate. From texting back in a timely manner to helping with dishes, there are thousands of ways to be a more considerate partner. And while picking up the tab at the bar or calling an Uber may well indeed be on the list, most little things to show your boo you care often cost nothing at all.
The little things — like calling before bed or helping with laundry — can go a long way in making your partner feel loved and cared for. Rather than a fancy date night that can make everyone feel stressed or a big romantic gesture that could make your partner feel put on the spot, frequently doing little things for each other can make being considerate a habit in your relationship. "It's important to do little things in a relationship — it is those caring behaviors that can make all the difference in showing consistent thought and love," Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin MS, LCPC, Certified Imago Therapist, and co-founder of The Marriage Restoration Project, tells Elite Daily. "Many of these acts can help your partner feel cared for and loved even more than a more dramatic behavior or gift."
Making a habit of doing the little things can make your relationship more sustainable and fulfilling for you and your boo. According to Rabbi Slatkin, "little things" are daily efforts that are more invested in the details. These details create a sense of dependability and consistency within your relationship, and allows your love to grow. "The smaller acts of kindness are the foundation from which the larger gestures top," Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show says. "Without the foundation of kindness, caring and respect the grand gestures often fall short and have less meaning." Building trust and space for love can take a while. While big gestures can come with the added pressure to express everything you're feeling in in a single sitting, smaller day-to-day actions can make space for your love to evolve overtime.
Still, no matter how long you've been dating, if you're starting to sense that your partner could be a little more considerate, it's not always easy to know how to talk to them about it. "This can be a tough conversation because often our partners may have no clue they are not being considerate," Dr. Klapow says. "Very often partners are not purposely being inconsiderate as much as they are forgetting to be considerate." If your partner makes you feel super loved and cared for, if you enjoy spending time together, and you share a mutual respect for each other, it may be tricky to differentiate "inconsiderate" from "forgetting to be extra considerate."
Encouraging your boo to be more considerate on the day to day doesn't need to mean accusing them of being inconsiderate. "Start off by letting your partner know what works for you versus what doesn’t work," Dr. Klapow says. "Instead of telling them they are being inconsiderate, let them know that when they are loving, compliment you, clean up after themselves, open the door, say thank you, show kindness, etc., you feel closer to them, you are reminded how much you love them." By sharing the times you feel most loved and cared for, you can redirect the conversation to reaffirming when your parter is being considerate.
Of course, if you and your partner love to go big on birthdays or anniversaries, enjoy giving nice gifts, or taking luxurious vacations — big gestures may play a fun and heathy role in your relationship too. And though you may love it when your boo goes all out, the smaller (and less expensive) things can be incredibly meaningful. "So often our partners are not purposely trying to be inconsiderate or lazy — they forget the small things," Dr. Klapow says. "Let them know how much you appreciate the grand gestures, but also show them that small things go a long way, too. That it can be super easy for them."
When it comes to picking the little things, it can help to be as specific as possible, "The trick is to simply show them what they can do versus what they are not doing," Dr. Klapow says. "Holding your hand or giving you a hug or bringing you coffee makes you feel loved and cared for." Directly stating the "little things" that would mean the most to you, like a surprise coffee or a hug, redirects the conversation to what makes you feel loved rather than what your boo is doing wrong.
Rabbi Slatkin agrees that affirming positive behavior may be the best way to increase consideration in your relationship. "We can share with our partners our needs in a loving and safe way by telling them how we react or feel when they do a particular behavior," Rabbi Slatkin. "Take ownership of your feelings instead of criticizing what they are doing wrong." When sitting with yourself to parse your needs and expectations from your relationship, you can come to your partner with realistic and direct ideas about how to pump up the consideration, while still praising them for all they do. "The first step is to be appreciative for what they are already doing. Tell them how much you love what they are doing. That alone may be a motivator."
From calling rather than texting to leaving handwritten notes, there are endless ways to be more considerate in a relationship. If you're starting to talk to your partner about how they could do more little things, remember that asking your boo to be a little more considerate doesn't mean implying that they're being inconsiderate. Try acknowledging the times you feel most loved and cared for, to reaffirm their positive behaviors, rather than criticizing what they could be doing better. Your partner cares deeply about you and wants you to be happy, but sometimes, we all need a reminder that the little things can mean the most.