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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

10 Small But Significant Romantic Gestures That Can Improve Any Relationship Almost Immediately

Expensive jewelry and trips to Paris? Nope. Ten women explain why the small, romantic gestures matter more.

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Small-But-Significant-Romantic-Gestures-That-Can-Improve-Any-Relationship-Almost-ImmediatelyTatevosian Yana/Shutterstock

Morning tea ritual

Massachusetts resident and architectural designer Lily Piper Worth appreciates how her husband makes tea for her every morning. She’s a health-conscious person who enjoys yoga and acupuncture, so it’s a meaningful gesture. “He makes tea that includes local honey, a lemon, and hot water in a BPA-free bottle he bought me,” she says. Lisa Bahar, MA, a licensed psychotherapist in Newport Beach, California, explains that small thoughtful gestures are “reassuring indicators that communicate commitment and love and most of all, respect.” Whether it’s putting dirty socks in the hamper instead of leaving them on the floor or getting gas for her car and anything in between, Bahar adds, “the cliché ‘the little things matter’ is true.” Here’s how to match your tea to your mood.


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Small-But-Significant-Romantic-Gestures-That-Can-Improve-Any-Relationship-Almost-Immediately LEACH/Shutterstock

Putting toothpaste on the toothbrush

Oral hygiene may not be the first thing that comes to mind in the romance department, but for Misty Lister, a public relations account executive in South Carolina, it is. “The one thing that really fills my heart with joy is he prepares my toothbrush every morning, sometimes at lunch, and every night before bed,” she says of her partner. “He doesn’t ever say a word, nor do I. He just puts toothpaste on my toothbrush and leaves it on the edge of the sink for me to find whenever I’m ready. And it’s totally romantic because having a clean mouth means you’re very kissable!” Here are some ways to freshen your breath naturally.

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Small-But-Significant-Romantic-Gestures-That-Can-Improve-Any-Relationship-Almost-ImmediatelyJacob Lund/Shutterstock

Loving face caresses

Karin Lazarus Kienzlen, a customer relations specialist in New Jersey who is coming up on her sixth wedding anniversary, says her husband’s caring touch is especially meaningful. “One of the many things Joe does that I find extremely romantic is when I’m falling off to sleep at night or waking in the morning, he reaches over cups my face with his hand,” she says. “It’s a lingering ‘you have my heart’ touch. He calms my soul.” Marni Amsellem, PhD, a licensed psychologist in New York and Connecticut, explains that small romantic gestures are beneficial to a relationship. “Some of the most memorable things that partners can do for each other are these thoughtful and personalized gestures which communicate care or love,” she says. “Consequently, these actions can directly promote bonding and facilitate intimacy.”

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Going bananas over each other

For Eileen Roth, author of Organizing for Dummies, love is all about bananas. She explains that she’s an avid banana fan, enjoying everything from banana cream pies to raw bananas. Her husband, on the other hand, is not a fan of the fruit. He not only has a strong dislike for their taste and can’t stand the smell of peels in the trash, but doesn’t even like touching them. “But since he knows I like bananas, he will ask a stranger in the grocery store to put the bananas into the shopping cart if I am not with him,” she says. “And he will ask the cashier to take them out. He will even let me eat banana cream pie in front of him at a restaurant. The fact that he will find a way to buy bananas without touching them –that’s love.” Here are 20 uses for bananas besides eating them.

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Leaving love notes on squash

“Of all the nice things my husband does for me, one of the ‘smallest’ but most meaningful things is leaving me hidden surprises,” says Cindy McKinley, author of three books including the children’s book, One Smile. “I might open the fridge and find a sticky note that says ‘You are my best friend’ on my squash. Or, I might open up my vitamins and, written on the underside of the lid, it says, ‘I love you.'” She explains that this is pretty much an effortless gesture that leaves her with a lingering feel-good mood. “Making the effort to do something that is unexpected,” Dr. Amsellem says, “may be just the antidote to their day that they maybe didn’t even realize they needed.” Check out the sometimes surprising relationship advice from people married 50 years and longer.


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Small-But-Significant-Romantic-Gestures-That-Can-Improve-Any-Relationship-Almost-ImmediatelyEvgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock

Getting the kids in on expressing appreciation

“My husband Ryan’s most romantic small gestures have been having the kids thank me at the end of the day for specific things I did for them that day,” says Blair Critch, a network marketing entrepreneur in Florida. “It shows me he notices that I am doing a bunch of things throughout the day for our family, which allows me to feel appreciated.”

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Small-But-Significant-Romantic-Gestures-That-Can-Improve-Any-Relationship-Almost-ImmediatelyHrecheniuk Oleksii/Shutterstock

Giving personalized gifts after job-related traveling

Christine Kim, from Los Angeles, California, enjoys the fact that her partner thinks of her while he’s traveling. “My boyfriend of two years is in fashion and travels a lot for trade shows and fashion shows,” she says. “Every trip he makes, he manages to come back with a personal gift that is special to the city, state, or country.” Whether it’s a lipstick or a button/patch for her denim jacket, she says this makes her feel special. “It makes me feel like he’s always thinking of me no matter where he is or how busy he might be.” When a significant others’ actions convey levels of respect that makes another person feel good, Bahar says, “they are more inclined to nurture the relationship back and a healthy connection continues to be strengthened, because the person feels appreciative.”

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Small-But-Significant-Romantic-Gestures-That-Can-Improve-Any-Relationship-Almost-ImmediatelyRoom 76/Shutterstock

Changing the toilet paper so it faces the ‘correct’ way

Sometimes, it’s the memories of past gestures that still evoke strong emotions. Katie Evans, CEO of Living Lite Hypnosis Centers, Inc. explains that her husband died several years ago. “It’s still the small considerations I remember,” she says. “He liked to pull the TP up from the roll. I preferred it rolling over the top. One day he changed the paper and I noticed it was put on the roll as I liked it.” When she thanked him, she says he responded that it was a small gesture which made her happier, which in turn pleased him.

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Thoughtfully prepared meals

Brittany Sherwood, owner and psychiatric nurse practitioner at Mental Calm in Florida who often meets with patients in the evening hours, explains that her partner Mark does all of the grocery shopping and cooks their dinners. Additionally, he prepares food while taking her “fairly picky” preferences into consideration, right on down to the spiciness level and omission of mushrooms. This effort shows how much he values their relationship, she says.

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Small-But-Significant-Romantic-Gestures-That-Can-Improve-Any-Relationship-Almost-ImmediatelyMaryna Pleshkun/Shutterstock

A warm towel after a shower

What’s better than taking a relaxing shower after a long day? Wrapping yourself up in a toasty towel afterwards, of course. Kailey Faber, director of a real estate technology firm based in Nashville, Tennessee, says her husband will put a towel in the dryer to warm it up. “When I get out, I have a nice warm towel to dry off with,” she says. “As a mom of two young kids, a shower is sometimes the only alone time I get. I love how my husband knows that and will make that time extra special for me.” Here are some things you can do in the shower that don’t involve washing yourself.