Three words get your blood pumping and send your heart racing. They’re the reason you bought that thoughtful gift for your mom and why you went out of your way to help your best friend. Love is enticing and indescribable by nature. Some moments in life leave us spell-bound by the cutie in our English class or convinced to apologize after we hurt someone. But love is more than a feeling. Love is an action and is sometimes shown in the most colorful forms.
1. Think about the person behind you
We’ve all been late to class or at least in a rush to get somewhere, trying to juggle our priorities in one hand, our books in the other and our phone with our teeth. We wish someone on the opposite end would politely open the door for us, so we don’t need to muster up the strength to ply open the door with just our foot. “I hold the door for people and I smile at random people: it is easy and meaningful,” said University of Florida freshman Matthew Burnette.
2. Show a Little Compassion
“[Love] is just that act of caring for another person in a way that isn’t self-serving,” said UF senior Allie Salomon. Regardless of what a person has done, everyone needs and deserves a warm heaping plate of compassion. “There’s no limit to love. If that person was to do something terrible—if you care about them—you would put yourself in that person’s shoes. There’s no condition. You’ll love that person regardless of what their flaws are,” said Registered Nurse at North Florida Regional Medical Center Necheon Cooney. Compassion binds the closest of friends, refreshes the most intimate of lovers and even welcomes passing strangers.
3. Say it out loud
“It’s important to always remind the ones we love—that we love them,” said Miami Dade College sophomore Nick Vega. During the busyness of life and the toughest times, a word of encouragement or a heartfelt “I love you” to your girlfriend will make her happy. Let your roommate know that she’s “got this” before marching into their testing site or leave her an encouraging note inside a textbook for a class she dreads. Don’t be afraid to show people you care in your everyday life. Send a text or, if you’re feeling passé, call them. If that doesn’t work, you can always send a carrier pigeon.
4. Be selfless
When did people decide it’s all about “me”? Go out of your way to show some where your heart is at in a relationship. Like shedding your pride when your boyfriend takes forever to text you back, instead of acting petty and making him wait as long as you had to wait. Just text him back. Or let go of your guard when asked about the ins and outs of your past relationships, like, “Why did you guys break up?” or, “What did you learn from the relationship?” Daring questions with a purpose can smooth out any potential rough patches. “[To me, love means] someone giving [their self] to another person. Someone opening up or in other words making their selves vulnerable,” said Cooney. “Love is giving your all.”
5. Practice what you preach
Relationships are two-way streets—there should always be give and take. “People always want to receive love but sometimes do not reciprocate the love back. It is important to practice what one preaches,” said Rodriguez. Like appreciating that friend who is always there for you and constantly trying in a relationship, by showing you care. Don’t just say. Do—show the person you care. Eventually, anyone who constantly gives will feel drained. Reciprocating love in your everyday life doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth. Start small. Return a phone call or treat a supportive friend out to lunch after class.
6. Keep the Spunk
With spontaneity, you won’t go wrong. Doesn’t matter if it’s an unplanned late-night car ride or if you’re surprising your best friend with his favorite desert. “I also tend to demonstrate love to my best friends by always listening to them, guiding them or simply enjoy[ing] the small things in life together, like going in the middle of the night to Krispy Kreme for a dozen donuts,” said Rodriguez. Making an adventure or surprising those you love will always carry a pleasant tone and create a fond memory. Make sure to capture it, frame it and hang it up as a keepsake.
7. Listen up!
Lending your group member an ear while she’s freaking out about whether “los” is an indefinite or definite article and staying up late to listen to a friend mourn the breakup with her jerk of a boyfriend shows that you truly love her. “I think there’s a myriad of ways to show love that can be big or small. It can be doing anything that shows someone you care and that you’re taking them and their feelings into consideration,” said Salomon. Sometimes the only thing a person needs is a listening ear.
8. Answer Your Text Messages
Affection is like a cool breeze on a sunny day and soothing like hot chocolate on a cold one. It’s an extension of your love, no matter the relationship. An early morning text never hurts and neither does a tight bear hug. “I kiss my wife every night. The reason I do it, is that I don’t say ‘I love you’ every day, but I want to give her physical affection,” said Cooney. If things aren’t that serious just yet, try doing something up your alley. “I like to let my partner know that I’m thinking about them by texting them throughout the day, or if I go somewhere by bringing back things that remind me of them. I just like to let them know that they’re on my mind even if they aren’t with me physically,” said Salomon. Don’t be afraid to let someone know you care.
9. Commit Yourself
Sometimes it’s considered one of the hardest things to accomplish—commitment. Like committing yourself to text back, especially when your friends have a mini-intervention with you about why they expect you to reply to them immediately, not two hours later. If it’s following up on a promise you made a roommate or staying connected to your parents in another state, commitment shows your effort and lets those around you know you care. “I show love to my parents by speaking to them various times throughout the day, whether it is through text or on the phone while I am away from them. When I am home, I show love to them by spending days with them—doing things we enjoy the most as a family,” said Rodriguez. Commit yourself to who matters most.
10. Be Grateful
Making the most out of experiences is sometimes hard, but keeping a grateful attitude can be harder. Like greeting a complete stranger when the two of you are sharing a table at the food court. Learning to enjoy someone’s company doesn’t just make them feel loved, it expands your perspective on love itself. “There are lots of ways I express my love for my friends. Just reaching out and letting a friend know that I’m there for them, especially if I notice that they’re going through a bad time, is an act of love,” said Salomon. “I think the key to love is an exchange of trust. You commit yourself to caring about another person’s happiness and trust that they’ll do the same for you.”