How to Tell Someone You Love Them Without Awkwardly Saying “I Love You”

By Shana Carey

Co-Editor in Chief

If there’s one thing I’m not grateful for, it’s finding myself in the awkward situation every year where I have to tell my entire family what I am thankful for. Sitting at a long dinner table before eating an ungodly amount of mashed potatoes, the last thing I want to talk about is my feelings.

Although I dread talking about how I feel, this Thanksgiving, I’m taking time to live in the present and be grateful for the people that genuinely make my life better. In the spirit of self-betterment, I decided to tell my friends, family, and romantic interests that I love them. 

However, outwardly saying “I love you” is not really my style. Small acts of kindness and simple psychology are the true ways to show someone how you really feel. So here are five ways to tell someone you love them without actually saying it.

  1. Listen to them. 

This is easier said than done – by far. We are naturally designed to want to talk about ourselves constantly. According to Adrian Ward from Scientific American, our brains release feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine whenever we talk about ourselves in conversation. What this means is that we get less of a natural high by changing the subject. By actively listening to someone talk about themselves, you show that you genuinely care about them and find joy in listening to what they have to say. Asking questions, nodding, smiling, and noticing when they aren’t okay show that you care and respect them. This subconsciously demonstrates a deep emotional connection between you two. 

  1. Remember the little things. 

 Let’s face it, nothing feels better than when someone remembers your favorite ice cream flavor. This completely useless detail about you was important enough for them to remember and demonstrates that you are prominent in their mind. It’s not just ice cream either. Taking the time and brainpower to remember a miniscule fact about someone else shows to them that you consider them a priority. 

  1. Use their name. 

Saying someone’s name might not seem like you’re professing your love for them, but it comes pretty darn close. Joyce E. A. Russel for The Washington Post suggests businessmen learn a person’s name and use it throughout a sales pitch to psychologically manipulate a buyer into picking up what they’re putting down. Using a person’s name grabs their attention and immediately connects the two of you. This builds a deeper connection and shows that you are putting effort into your relationship. 

  1. Look them in the eyes.

We’ve all heard that eyes are the window to the soul, but psychologists Daniel Lee and Adam Anderson from Cornell University think that this is more than an old wives’ tale. According to their research, human eye muscles convey complex emotions. Not only can our eyes demonstrate how much we love someone, but our brains are naturally hardwired to translate what other people’s eyes are saying about their emotions. So subconsciously tell your friends how you really feel by looking at them with loving eyes. 

  1. Confide in them.

Do you remember when I said that we like to talk about ourselves all the time? Well, here is your chance to do so. People like honesty. They want to connect with you, and being vulnerable is the ultimate test of love. It’s hard to build a deep-rooted relationship with the kid in your math class that says hi and then talks about the weather. Every. Single. Day. Don’t be afraid to show your personality, your weaknesses, and your fears. Giving someone your trust is a clear indication that you love them. 

Being thankful is an important part of recognizing how you feel, but expressing this is another challenge. If you find yourself staring at a turkey and struggling to express your gratitude, tell your loved ones how you really feel using these five psychological tips.

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