Written by Writer’s Corps member Carrie Manner
There’s no doubt about it, the beginnings of relationships are exciting. Every date uncovers a new discovery about the other person as emotions ricochet between uncertainty and adoration. For weeks, maybe even months, we simply can’t get enough of our S.O. As time goes on, however, that initial rush fades, and new love becomes a little more familiar. We instinctively know how to show our partners we care, but that gets lost as we become more comfortable in our relationship. Soon, all of that extra effort and lip service we employed at the beginning goes to the wayside as routine replaces butterflies. We assume our partner knows how we feel because we’ve said it all before… but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to hear it again.
Healthy communication is one of the biggest obstacles couples face when it comes to building a solid, happy relationship. But healthy communication isn’t just about speaking up when you feel something’s amiss (#trustyourgut), it also means speaking up to let your partner know when or what they’re doing well. The old saying that we teach people how to treat us is true, as we model respect and appreciation for our partner, we also teach them how to #lovebetter.
Mark Twain once said, “I can live a whole month on one compliment.” Just think what would happen if the next time you felt awed by your S.O. you spoke up and said so. Now imagine what would happen if you made a habit of it.
Sharing these heartfelt truths will not only make your partner feel amazing, it will take your relationship to the next level. Below are 20 things we all need to tell our S.O.’s more often.
1. “You’re My Best Friend”
Best friends really are the best. They share our laughter and inside jokes, and they’re the first person we turn to when we need advice and support. When we tell our partner they’re our BFF, what we really mean is we trust them with our hearts, our secrets, our insecurities, and our dreams. This is a huge compliment, and in hearing it, our S.O. will likely feel humbled and flattered to know that we see their true worth.
2.“I Support You”
Even the most self-assured among us need a vote of confidence from time to time. Whether our S.O. is nervous about a job interview or dealing with a difficult family situation, letting them know we’re in their corner could give them that extra ounce of confidence they’ve been looking for. We all need someone that lifts us up and reminds us that we have an unshakeable teammate when things get rough.
3. “I Love Having You Around”
Whether we’re dressed to the nines or wearing the same pajama pants we’ve rocked for the umpteenth day in a row, we all long to be seen and desired for the person we are inside. So it should come as no surprise our S.O. wants that too. By pausing to tell them how much we enjoy sharing both the important and small moments in our lives, we help them feel seen and appreciated. These light-hearted conversations work wonders in bringing people closer.
4. “I Believe in You”
We all go through periods of self-doubt. Sometimes we let ourselves down because we didn’t make the grade or someone said something hurtful. When we feel low, a kind word from our partner can feel like a turbo-boost. If you see your S.O. going through a rough patch, remind them how incredible they are and that you’re rooting for them every step of the way.
5. “I Trust You”
In a healthy relationship, we’re free to be our truest selves without fear or repercussion. Trust is a crucial part of any meaningful relationship, and expressing those feelings instills confidence in our loved one. Because what we’re really saying is we believe they’re capable of making good choices and we don’t second-guess their judgment. Want to make your S.O. feel great? Tell them you trust them and watch your connection deepen.
6. “What I Love About You is…”
Compliments are great, and hearing “I love you” is especially powerful. But getting specific about “why” we love someone can completely alter the dynamic of a relationship for the better. Imagine knowing what other people admire about you; that’s what you’re doing for your S.O. when you share how you love the way their nose wrinkles when they laugh or how they listen better than anyone else. Not only that, we demonstrate we value them enough to pay attention to the little things. This builds self-esteem and mutual feelings of appreciation. It’s a win-win.
7. “Thank You”
Let’s be real– first dates garner our best behavior. We sit up straight, we listen, we hold doors for each other, and then… we get comfortable. And that’s perfectly okay. Why? Because in serious relationships, we let our guard down and show our true colors. So while we may not practice perfect manners all the time, maintaining a string of “please” and “thank you” on a regular basis shows your S.O. you respect them as a person and don’t take them for granted.
8. “I Appreciate You”
Think of the last time a friend told you how much they appreciated a favor you did for them or the last time your boss congratulated you on a job well done. Didn’t that feel fantastic? Hearing that another person appreciates us is extremely validating- especially if it’s genuine and expressed at the moment it’s felt. Next time you see your S.O. take out the garbage or cook dinner, let them you appreciate what they’re doing. If you practice this on a regular basis, you’ll likely notice that appreciation fosters a happier relationship over time.
9. “It’s Going to Be Okay”
Trials and disappointments are never easy, yet even the smallest reassurance from someone we love can make everything feel manageable again. When things get hectic, hearing “It’s going to be okay” from someone you care about can be the best thing in the world. True, we don’t always have concrete solutions to offer when our partner is down, but we can remind them of a universal truth: that in time, this too will pass and things will be okay again- and until then, we’ve got their back.
10. “I’d Rather Be With You”
As much as we adore our partner, time apart is healthy. It gives us a chance to reset, focus on our goals, and to nurture other relationships in our lives. Still, when our S.O. travels or we put in long hours at work, it can mean the world to hear their voice on the other line saying they wish we were there. Cue the butterflies! And when we tell our partners this, we show that we recognize the wonderful ways their presence improves our lives and wouldn’t have it any other way.
11. “You’re Cute”
Have you noticed your S.O. gets funnier the longer you’ve been together? No, you’re not imagining it. Happy couples tend to develop their own “language” and as they figure out the other’s sense of humor and preferences, they mirror them. We do this without thinking about it because we love and admire our partners. And when we see them act adorable, it’s nice to call them out on it because it’s a simple way to make them smile. Exclamations like “you’re cute” are also great for boosting morale and bringing joy in small doses. Next time they do something cute, tell them and watch their smile widen. They may even repeat those “cute” actions more often.
12. “I’m Glad We’re Together”
Think about it: you could be dating anyone, but you chose this one person to share the important parts of your life with. That’s amazing when you stop and really consider it. And the same is true in reverse- your S.O. must be glad you’re together, or they wouldn’t be with you- so wouldn’t it be nice to hear it from time to time? The great thing is you can lead by example. Next time you’re together, tell your S.O. how happy you are that the two of you found each other.
13. “I’m Here For You”
You’d do almost anything for your S.O. You adore them and want what’s best. It’s easy to assume they know this, especially if you’ve said it before, but in periods of uncertainty, your S.O. probably needs to hear it again. Even if you’re not the best at consoling, a simple, heartfelt “I’m here for you no matter what” can be extremely comforting. Anytime your S.O. needs a vote of confidence, give them a gentle reminder that you’re in their corner and they don’t have to do it alone.
14. “You Were Right, I Was Wrong”
In relationships, disagreements are bound to happen, and if handled well, those very disputes have the potential to make our relationship stronger. Admitting we’re wrong requires character and demonstrates humility. When we put truth above our own need to be “right,” we establish healthy standards of communications. This helps our partner trust us and shows that it’s safe to admit “defeat.”
15. “We’re In This Together”
There are moments when life throws so much our way, it can feel like we’re too small to handle it. An unexpected move, a family member that falls sick- anything can temporarily throw us off our game. But when our S.O. faces a challenge, we can empower them by assuring them the issues they face are not theirs alone. We can let them know we’re by their side and if they need anything, all they have to do is ask. This will go a long way toward solidifying our relationship and reaffirming their trust in us.
16. “I don’t agree, but I’ll try…”
We can’t always agree on everything; that’s a given. Sometimes our values align but we can’t agree on decisions, like whose house to move into when we’re merging lives or when’s the best time to adopt a puppy. That’s where compromise and understanding come in. Even when we can’t see eye to eye with our partner, we can still respect them enough to honor their choices and treat them with respect. By agreeing to “try,” we communicate that we won’t simply “tolerate” their decisions, we’ll work on seeing where they’re coming from.
17. “How Can I Help?”
Sometimes we can all use a little extra help. This could be as minor as changing a tire on our car or lending an open ear after a work issue. We can’t always anticipate what our partner needs when something seems “off,” so asking an open-ended question like “How can I help?” could result in answers that surprise us. And if there is something you can do to help, it’s important to do so with a loving attitude. This creates an environment of teamwork and gratitude, which any relationship can benefit from.
18. “You Make Me Feel Safe”
When we were young, anytime we grew frightened, we’d run to a parent, a sibling, or our safe place. No matter how terrified, the second we reached safety, our entire bodies relaxed. That’s because security is a primal longing we’re born with. When we tell our S.O. how safe they make us feel, we impart confidence and help them feel strong and capable. And this works two-fold because by confirming what they’re doing right, it encourages more of the same.
19. “I’m Sorry, Can You Forgive Me?”
Asking for forgiveness is vital for the healing process in any relationship since we acknowledge that we understand we acted in a hurtful manner and want to make it right. It takes a big person to admit this and a bigger person yet to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions; but rest assured, if we own up to our actions and apologize, the benefits for our partners will far outweigh the cost of wounded pride.
20. “I Love You”
The first time I love you was exchanged with your S.O. it felt as if time stopped. Perhaps our hearts fluttered rapidly in our chests or a warm calm settled over us. No matter how many times we’ve said it since or how long we’ve been together, we still need to say these three words on a regular basis. Sure, we need to show it, but in a world that’s always pushing for change and the next best thing, it’s incredibly important we remind them again and again. They’ll never grow sick of hearing “I love you” and the positive side-effects are immeasurable.
Many people reach the end of their lives with regrets about things they weren’t brave enough to say when they had the chance. I propose we safeguard ourselves from that outcome and instead resolve to be honest and authentic in all of our relationships. It only takes a moment to make our S.O. feel incredible and our connection will only strengthen. Let’s commit to use the power of our words to uplift and inspire as we teach the world how to #lovebetter- starting with how we talk to the people we love most.
For more tips on healthy relationship behaviors and communication, check out our article 5 Essentials to Having a Healthy Relationship or Unlearning Unhealthy Communication Behaviors, plus loads more at the JoinOneLove.org blog today.