It’s amazing how much three little words can impact a relationship. If you and your SO have already shouted I love you from the rooftops or swapped the sentiment after a steamy night of “studying,” then give yourself a pat on the back because, let’s be real, that’s not an easy thing to do. As small as those words may seem, saying them can often feel as challenging as trying to sound out something like honorificabilitudinitatibus. (Let us know how that goes.) Want to know what’s not tricky? Making those words mean even more than they already do. You have your SO’s heart. Here’s how to really make it race.
Related: 7 Signs You’re in Love
1. Explore the pictures and posts of your partner’s past
What we capture on camera says a lot about who we are as people, and what we share on social media is a further extension of this idea. “Scrolling through your partner’s camera roll is one of the most fun things you can do on a random Saturday afternoon,” says Temple University senior Leah Wenhold.
Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend starred in a hilarious Adventures of Huckleberry Finn parody for his or her high school English class. Maybe he or she had a brief obsession with tweeting nothing but knock, knock jokes. Regardless, there’s a decent chance that you’ve yet to discover everything there is to know about your SO. Seeing his or her old snapshots and videos and searching the depths of his or her Facebook timeline (or, for a crazy good kickback, Myspace profile) will make it clear to your partner that you’d like a better peek at his or her past. More knowledge = more love.
2. Tackle something terrifying together
Okay, so rock climbing isn’t for everyone. But there are many intimidating activities to explore, and they come in various shapes, sizes and situations. Have you and your SO been tossing around the idea of training for a Tough Mudder race or tasting calamari for the first time? Well, it’s time to stop debating and start doing! There’s a great deal of trust that comes into play when you decide to face your fears. Because deeper trust sets the stage for deeper love, sampling fried squid together could actually intensify your partner’s feelings for you.
3. Serve up some sweet compliments
You’ve probably heard that flattery can get you far in life. Therefore, it’s not surprising that a little kudos has the power to kick your SO’s passion into high gear.
“It might sound silly, but people truly do appreciate compliments,” says Mikayla Trinkley, a recent graduate of Penn State University. Yes, it may sound silly—especially because flattery can sometimes read as phony. But your partner will love an honest, wholehearted compliment, and he or she will love you for noticing certain things about him or her. Leah uses style as an example. “If you really like your SO’s outfit or hairstyle on a particular day, don’t be afraid to let him or her know!” she says. Fashion and beauty risks can often go unnoticed, so calling positive attention to your partner may lead to an even sweeter sense of love.
4. Get the inside scoop on his or her interests
You may know nothing about drumming or Dungeons & Dragons or whatever it is that fills your SO’s free time when he or she isn’t cramming for midterms or hanging out with you. However, as Mikayla points out, there’s a ton of value in taking the opportunity to investigate his or her interests. “I think doing what you can to learn more about your SO’s hobbies and favorite things to do is super important because those interests probably mean so much to him or her,” she says. “Something as simple as asking your boyfriend or girlfriend to walk you through his or her hiking obsession will suggest that you want your relationship to have as much depth as possible.”
Mikayla’s totally right. Just as pictures and posts help to build a better understanding of your partner’s past, discovering the details of his or her present interests will increase your understanding of who he or she is as a person. Who knows? Something as far from romantic as developing your own D&D character could cause your SO to go weak in the knees.
5. Introduce him or her to your interests
Inviting your partner into the wonderful world of your interests is equally important. He or she is probably as curious about what you like to do as you were about his or her favorite activities, so gaining a richer perspective might give your SO even more reasons to feel 100 percent in love with you. Hold nothing back, and you’ll be amazed by how much he or she enjoys trying to get a good grasp of your training routine or Scream Queens fan club.
6. Stick around through life’s suckier moments
Experiencing the high points of your SO’s life alongside him or her will definitely tighten the ties of your bond. However, being there through your SO’s not-so-fun low moments is what’s really going to rev his or her love engines.
As Carole Lieberman, M.D., a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author of Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them and How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets, puts it, deciding to support your partner is a key step toward making your relationship stronger. Dr. Lieberman says that “showing concern for the things that are stressing him or her out” could cause your SO to feel as though he or she would never want to lose your love. The honeymoon phase has its perks, but your partner’s bound to appreciate you even more if you’ve got what it takes to handle his or her hot messes.
7. Spend less, snack more
We’ve all heard again and again that the way to a person’s heart is through his or her stomach. Have you ever wondered whether or not Rice Krispie Treats actually lead to lasting love? Short answer: yes.
“Sometimes, less is more,” says Dr. Lieberman. According to her, collegiettes tend to get caught up in trying to do “too much” for the sake of love. But powerful feelings are the products of pint-sized actions. “Even though it may be cliché to say, it's the small things,” says Saint Vincent College junior Juli Cehula. Dr. Lieberman agrees with this and adds that “bringing [your SO] a midnight snack when you know he or she’s pulling an all-nighter before a test” will leave him or her feeling incredibly grateful.
In the currency of love, Doritos are more valuable than dollar signs. As Juli says, “Everyone is always so concerned about how much you spend.” The intention behind a snack or small gift is what leaves the most lasting mark on your partner.
Though each of these things should supercharge your SO’s love for you, remember to keep this in mind: He or she fell in love with you because you’re you. Sure, a sweet compliment helps, and a scrumptious snack might win him or her over. But being yourself is hands down the best way to take I love you to the next level.