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We don’t want to downplay the importance of those three little words that two weeks or two years into a relationship still have the power to make your heart skip a beat. But while saying “I love you” is essential, so are other phrases, each with their own positive ripple effects in your relationship.
Here are seven things we all want to hear (sometimes) more than “I love you.”
1. “You can do it.”
Perhaps one of the most important roles a partner plays in our lives is cheerleader. So whether you’re ready to tap out and leave unswallowed that last delicious bite of gelato or preparing to lead a huge work project solo, it’s time for your S.O. to break out the pom-poms and cheer you on.
2. “I’m proud of you.”
When you finish that last bite of a healthy salad instead of your usual doughnut or kick b*tt at your work project, the best thing your man can do is swell with pride and express just how he thinks you rock. Knowing you impressed yourself is great in-and-of itself—but blowing his mind is a new level of awesome.
3. “You’re beautiful.”
We’ve all been the recipients of insincere compliments, and because of that, too often this phrase only elicits an eye roll. But there’s nothing like the feeling we get when a man we love drops this doozy as we wake up, our unwashed mascara smudged along our puffy eyes—and knowing he means it.
4. “I appreciate you.”
We take out the trash because that’s what you do when it’s full. We fold their socks into pairs because we can’t stand the thought of another stray, lonely argyle without its mate. It’s nothing special—and it’s certainly not about recognition. But a man can turn the mundane into something more when he recognizes our acts of service are acts of love.
5. “Let me take you on a date.”
Routine is the silent killer of passion, people. So when a man wants to break free of binge-watching Netflix and take you out for a night on the town—or even for a candlelit, home-cooked meal on your patio—he’s saying he wants to keep the spark alive and roaring.
6. “I support you.”
If your man’s got your back, it’s akin to having the full force of HGTV behind you when you purchase that fixer-upper: You know there’s nothing you can’t do.
7. “I’m sorry.”
We don’t mean the insincere variety tossed out mid-argument meant only to shut you up. We’re talking about the “I’m sorry” whose subtext is, “I understand where you’re coming from, I feel bad that I contributed to this situation, and I’m going to do my best to make sure it never happens again.” When it’s said that way, is there anything more loving?