Sometimes the best way to tell someone that you love them is by keeping your mouth shut and opening your imagination. Meaningful gestures are all about thoughtfulness – what would make your partner smile? What tells them “I know you better than anyone else – and I love everything about you”? Here are a few ways to get the message across, from everyday gestures to creative one-off ideas.
1. A public display of affection
Haven’t held hands in years? Why not? There are few sights more romantic than an elderly couple holding hands as they walk down the street. Casual touching, hugging and hand-holding does a lot to strengthen your bond and improve your sex life, no matter what age you are.
Also keep up your kissing. A kiss doesn’t have to lead to sex – it’s an intimate gesture in itself, full of warmth and expression.
2. A flirtatious look
The most successful long-term couples never stop giving each other the eye: just check out the red-hot body language of Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, together for a decade years and still up for a nuzzle on the red carpet.
Flirting matters because it’s about showing an interest in someone, whether they’re a stranger or the person you share your life with. So flirt with your partner by looking them in the eye when they talk; touching their arm or putting your head on their shoulder; or simply by chatting to them about your day.
3. An invitation to dinner
Make dinner – but not any old dinner. Send your partner an invitation, asking them to dress in their best clothes, and give them a candlelit restaurant experience in your own front room. You can be chef, waiter and dessert.
Or take them out on a date. Try somewhere new, revisit a date venue from years ago, or have a multi-venue date: an aperitif at a bar, dinner at your favourite restaurant and sweets in the cab home.
Give some thought to the invitation, too. Maybe you could clear the fridge (hide everything in a coolbox) and, on the middle shelf, leave a bottle of champagne and a home-made voucher for a four-course meal at a restaurant of their choosing.
Even going out for a walk together gives you a chance to chat, exercise and hold hands. It’s a much underrated mini-date.
4. A love note
Hide sweet and cheeky notes in the pockets of their clothes, under the keyboard on their desk, in the book they’re reading and so on. They’ll be finding them for weeks. Or buy some blank postcards – every time you think of a note or doodle that expresses how you feel about your partner, scribble it onto a postcard and send it through the post.
If a short note isn’t enough for you, write them a love letter. Invest in a fountain pen, hand-write a romantic missive and write them a letter full of reasons why you love them. Worth a gazillion emails.
5. A surprise seduction
Never underestimate sex as a way of telling your partner how much they mean to you. It matters because it’s a powerful way to feel attractive and express desire. Some doctors even claim that the more sex you have, the more you’ll want: regular sex produces hormones that boost your libido and romantic attachment.
6. Doing the chores
It may not seem as romantic as a ticket to Paris, but they’ll be thrilled to come home to find that you’ve secretly cleaned the house.
7. “Thank you”
When partners feel that they’re taken for granted, they certainly don’t feel loved – and they may start looking for a way out of the relationship. So never stop paying your partner compliments or letting them know how much they’re appreciated. They need to hear it.
8. Kitchen cupboard sabotage
Fill your partner’s cupboards with their favourite treats. The more frivolous, the better – not the stuff they buy every day. (Tip: plan ahead to ensure that you’re not caught in the act. 4am is a good time, as long as you don’t sound like a burglar.)
If that’s too tricky, simply fill an entire drawer with their favourite sweets and wait for them to discover it.
9. A mixtape
Cheesy? Yes, and that’s why it works. Impossible, because they don’t have a cassette player? OK, fair point. So get a new MP3 player and give it some of that old mixtape magic by pre-loading it with playlists that your partner will love.
10. Favour vouchers
An oldie but goodie: give them a book of home-made personal favour vouchers. The vouchers could be for an hour-long massage, a spring-cleaned house, 10 breakfasts in bed or whatever treats you dream up. Make it all about your partner’s pleasure and desires, not yours.
11. A mirror message
Write your feelings in the steam on the bathroom mirror. Or, if you don’t trust steam to last long enough, use toothpaste!
12. Screensaver sabotage
Write a love note on your partner’s computer, and upload it as a screensaver or desktop wallpaper. This one’s best saved for partners who aren’t fiercely private…
13. Breakfast in bed
Dish up a breakfast-in-bed feast of ice-cream with nuts, syrup, fruit, whatever your lover likes. Include whipped cream, since you may find alternative uses for it once the ice cream has gone.
14. A camera phone kiss
Send your lover a camera-phone photo of your kiss. Just pucker up, click and send.
15. And finally… “I love you”
The first time you said those three little words, they meant everything – and there’s no reason why you should let them fade into silence just because you’ve been together for a while. And definitely don’t save them for when you’ve had a fight! Say “I love you” because you want to, and because you mean it. Those words still have the power to melt your partner’s heart.