1. Do one of their chores, even when it’s technically their turn. For all the times they’ve made the bed when you’ve had to run out the door, it’s worth it to take the extra three minutes and do the last dish they left in the sink.
2. Brag about them. It’s a treat for your partner to hear you gush to your parents or friends about something exciting that they’re doing. It’s just a subtle reminder that you’re proud of them.
3. Participate in one of their favorite activities, even though it might not be yours. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally sacrificing going out with your friends to play board games with their friends. Similarly, offering to watch one of their shows with them (even if you hate Game of Thrones) is a sweet, free gesture.
4. If they’re away for the weekend, or the week, give them a quick call instead of sending a “good night” text. The surprise of hearing someone you love on the other end of the phone after a long day makes all the difference.
5. When you go out to dinner, suggest that one of you leaves your phone at home. Keep one phone on you, for emergencies only, and then spend the evening forgetting about the work emails piling up, the unanswered texts you meant to get to, and the Instagram photos you were going to like.
6. Wake up early one weekday morning, and make a nice breakfast together. Yes, it costs you a bit of sleep, but when you two are having trouble finding time to spend together in the middle of a busy week, sitting down to eggs, toast, and bacon for 15 minutes can really balance out your week.
7. Light candles at the dinner table for absolutely no reason. It’s free.
8. Take their phone case off their phone, clean their phone, clean their phone case, and then put it all back together.
9. On a cold day, wake up five minutes early, and throw their clothes in the dryer for a few minutes, so they get the luxury of putting on warm clothes as soon as they get out of bed.
10. When they say they really need to talk through something, make time for it. And when they lay it all out for you, give them your full attention. Try to shut out all the other thoughts running through your head and devote your full mental capacity to them.
11. During your work day, take five minutes and email them a few articles you know they will love. Include a cute (work-appropriate) note in the email, just to brighten their day.
12. In a new relationship, make an effort to get to know more about their families. While the gesture of taking your new S.O. out to a dinner you can’t afford seems like something your relationship needs to progress, there are more meaningful, cost-effective ways to show you care. Ask when their mom’s birthday is, or try to actually understand what their siblings do for a living.
13. Suggest unconventional anniversary plans. First, mention it in advance to let them know that you didn’t forget about your anniversary. Instead of volunteering to make a reservation, spend an hour coming up with fun plans that you wouldn’t normally consider. Plan out an on-the-cheap trip, or come up with a full anniversary menu featuring all of your favorite foods.
14. Put all of the memories you’ve saved — pictures, notes, invitations or ticket stubs from events you attended together — and make a collage, inspo board, or scrapbook out of them. So often we leave these memories in a box, or even in a file folder, and it’s nice to trot those memories out, just to show the other person you haven’t forgotten.
15. Let them have the bigger half.
16. Stop taking pictures every time you guys do something fun together as a couple. You do not always need the perfect photo, with your arm around their shoulders, or your hand positioned perfectly on their chest. You need to share those memories between the two of you, but not necessarily with anyone else.
17. When they’re trying to tell you about their day, close your computer completely, or turn your phone over, so they know that you’re not half-listening and half-checking Twitter.
18. Offer things without always expecting something in return. When you rub their back after a long day, or prioritize their dinner preferences over yours, don’t hold it over their head. Don’t keep reminding them that they owe you an hour watching the TV you like, because you watched their show last week. Do something extra kind because you want to, not because you want to have a trump card to play later.
19. When you’re making your lunch (instead of buying lunch at the office), fill a tupperware with leftovers for them too.
20. Make an effort to get to know their schedule, and take it into consideration when you make plans. This is not to say you shouldn’t make plans independently from each other — you definitely should — but it’s nice for the other person to know you took their commitments into account when planning your week.
21. Start giving compliments again. It’s all too easy to not bother to tell your significant other — whether you’ve been together for six months, or six years — that they look nice in that shirt, that you’re proud of them for completing a goal, that they’re killing it at work, or that you like the way their hair looks today. While you shouldn’t rely on your partner’s validation, showing them that you notice all the good in their life costs you nothing (no effort and no money), but can make their day.
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