The Secret of Long-Term Relationships? – Showing Love with Daily, Small Gestures

Small gestures make people feel loved.

In fact, they can do more to make your relationship last than over-the-top romantic gestures.

Researchers at the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State asked 495 American adults about whether they would feel loved in 60 different scenarios. Results showed that loving actions are the best way to say, “I love you.”

Small gestures that show love don’t have to be traditionally romantic ones like sending flowers.

Showing compassion when someone is going through a hard time actually ranked highest in the Penn State study.

Little Things that Count

To show how much you care, you don’t have to do grandiose or expensive things. Consistent small gestures add up with time.

Small Gestures of Kindness

Don’t underestimate the importance of little acts of kindness—letting your partner sleep a bit longer while you get up and make the coffee, warm up the car on a frosty morning, or send a loving text message in the middle of a long day.

Those are all small gestures that build tenderness and trust. They show that you and your partner are tuned in to each other emotionally.

Thanks and Praise

Kind words count, too. Saying “please” when you ask for help and “thank you” when it’s given convey respect as well as love. Apologizing when you’ve hurt your partner’s feelings and practicing forgiveness not only keep you from going to bed angry, they help cement your relationship long-term.

Plus, expressing appreciation for a delicious dinner and praising your partner’s skill at car repair or talent for gardening also express love.

Rituals that Connect

Daily life falls into patterns. Make your daily life support your relationship by including rituals that connect you with your partner.

Displays of Affection

Hugging, holding hands, and sharing long kisses keep couples connected. For example, try the “six-second kiss,” recommended by Dr. John Gottman of The Gottman Institute.

Enjoyable Customs

Rituals like taking walks together or sharing quiet time with a glass of wine to unwind at the end of the day improve connectedness. Writing love notes to each other and leaving them in special places help the loving connection alive.

The Check-In

A daily check-in can keep your relationship on an even keel. Asking each other about your day has gone, listening to your partner talk about what they’re working on, and offering sympathy about what they’re struggling with lets your partner know you care about how they’re feeling. And responding to each other’s stress in a soothing way helps you through tense times.

Protecting Time Together

Prioritize your time together. Plan shared activities and show up. Don’t let work, chores, or other concerns hijack your together time. Be the person your partner can count on.

Loving Is Doing

Love is a verb. Learning what your partner loves is part of knowing who they are. Hence, being aware of what makes your partner happy and including that awareness in your daily life increases the quality of your relationship.

Moreover, taking part in something your partner loves even though it’s not your thing is a loving act. For example, going to that chick flick even though you’re bored by romance movies, going to the championship game even though you’re not that into sports, or trying that new Mexican restaurant even though you’re squeamish about spicy food shows you care about your partner.

And, of course, doing things your partner’s way—at least some of the time—means you’re willing to put yourself out for them. In fact, learning what makes your partner tick and delaying your own gratification to enjoy it with them is a small gesture that brings lasting results.

Supporting Each Other

Is your to-do list all crossed off by the end of the day? Or, like many of us, do you need another 24 hours to get it all done?

Helping your partner by running an errand or pitching in to finish a project they’ve started are good ways to support them. After all, as partners, your lives are intertwined. Taking positive action to help each other leads to the kind of interdependence that creates a successful long-term relationship.

Sharing Dreams and Plans

To have a long-term relationship means you have a future together. Looking into that future and envisioning your dreams makes it more likely that you will stay together through the small blips and bumps that life throws your way.

As you plan for the future while keeping grounded in the small gestures of the present, you’re showing love and support for each other and your relationship.

The Secret of a Long-Term Relationship

Forget the big, dramatic scenes. Long-term relationships thrive because of small gestures carried out day after day.

So, practice small acts of kindness. Say “please” and “thank you,” and give praise and credit where it’s due. Hug a lot. Create enjoyable rituals that connect you. Protect your time together. And try doing what your partner loves.

When you support each other by helping and listening, plan together for the future, and share your dreams your relationship can last a long time.

Yes, it’s the little things that count, in love and relationship.

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