Love. It’s one of the four letter words that’s uttered the most—one of the few universal feelings. It can be hard to find and just as hard to keep: from the best friend who stops contacting you to the partner who gets upset. Still, it is one of the most treasured emotions. When you have it you can only dream of grasping it tightly and never letting go.
One of the ways to avoid “falling out of love” is to share your love. Thus, although there is no inherently “valid” way to love, some of the most loving expressions of love include focusing on the little things, creating a positive atmosphere and setting aside time to make the ones you love feel important.
Love is often hidden in the little things. Even the smallest actions in any relationship can have far-reaching effects. It’s the subtler phrases like “drive safe” that can mean the whole world. I once knew a boy who kept a collection of hair ties on his sleeve. When I asked why, he explained that he was holding them for his girlfriend. She’d often forget to bring her own and would then be unable to do things like participate in labs. Rather than placing the burden on her to remember, he decided to start carrying them around in case she ever needed them. That’s one of the cutest expressions of love: just another way of letting her know that he would be there for her, whatever she needed.
Little things can be something as small as remembering your best friend’s boba order and grabbing it for them when you drive by. It’s fairly inexpensive—only five dollars—and can brighten up their day. My sister is one of the people who’s the best at this type of love: she remembers small things about people and gifts them shirts related to them. For example, my dad loves to *defy* the law and my sister bought him a shirt with the words “Officer, I didn’t see you there.” It was still pretty cheap and showcased a level of listening to the other person and a playfulness that is in the best love. Surprise the people you love with cute gifts, or even care packages, for that added level of affection.
Another important way to express love is by sending positive vibes to those around you. I know someone who, whenever he sees me, without fail, compliments me on my outfit—even if I feel like a paper bag. It always lightens my mood and makes even the worst days 10 times better. Tell the people you love that they look cute today or simply just that you love them. It’s a fail-safe way to make someone smile. More than that, laugh at their jokes, even if they’re not all that funny. Smile around them, and create a positive vibe within every relationship. Make yourself someone that you enjoy being around, and they’ll enjoy it too.
Of course, sometimes it’s hard to maintain those positive vibes, and that’s still valid. Trust them to be okay with you when life gets sad. Let them in whenever you can. Cry on their shoulder about that stupid biology test, allowing yourself to be imperfect in front of them. Tell them about your failures just as much as your successes and be willing to laugh with them about the thousands of insignificant problems in your lives. Most of all, be willing to be that person for them. Embrace their flaws and blemishes wholly, and offer yourself as the shoulder for them to cry on. Going through tough times can make love stronger, if you let it. As long as every action you do has love behind it, it’s all going to be alright.
Further, take time out of your day to let them know that they’re appreciated. Remind them of how amazing they are and what they’ve done for you. Acknowledge and welcome their attempts to love you back. More importantly, try your best to take time out of your day for them and avoid being “too busy.” This can be hard, especially for teenagers with a thousand things to do, but it’s completely achievable if you put effort into it.
If they’re busy, actively look for ways to make them happy and help them deal with that busyness. I have one friend who lives very far from me, so we don’t get to talk a lot. However, she’ll text me about the most random things, from Red Velvet music videos to memes about Mr. Darcy (we stan!). And whenever I have a debate tournament, she’ll find out and send me small supportive texts before rounds, helping me deal with my nervousness and making me smile. If someone you love has a big presentation, send them “good luck <3” texts, you never know if that’s the motivation they need to get through it.
Along that same vein, prioritize them whenever you can. With your family, make the effort to have dinner with them, and ask them about their days. Listen to what they have to say and remember it, proving to them that you care. It’s those small things that bring happiness.
Finally, it wouldn’t truly be a love article if I didn’t talk about some level of intimacy. Not every relationship is physically intimate, and that’s completely okay. But for those that are, know that even the smallest touches are a way of supporting the person you love. In my opinion, one of the sweetest things you can do with your partner is hold hands, even in the idlest of moments. It’s such a small thing, but it feels like getting enveloped in someone else’s warmth, helping them keep themselves up and reminding them that you’re close by. Hugs, too, can be really wholesome. They’re a greater extension of holding hands and letting you know that the person you love is right there around you. Of course, never be pressured to go any further than you’re comfortable with and always establish boundaries. Make sure everyone feels safe, and understand that the biggest part of love is a bond that’s far beyond anything physical.
At the end of the day, love comes from wanting to put a smile on the faces of the ones around you—it’s the person running outside to hand you an umbrella in the rain or the hair tie reserved just for you. It can come through any and every action, but should always leave warmth behind, both for you and for the ones you love. This Valentine’s Day, try a few of these tips on the people who make you happy.