They’re three little words, but man, are they powerful ones! Telling someone that you feel this way is always quite a moment — some people, however, go above and beyond the call of duty and concoct romantic gestures that are incredibly thoughtful and personal. Let these stories serve as some food for thought if you want a new way to express how much someone means to you.
I got my fave sweets from my sweetie
“One night, my date and I went to the movies and I was talking about how I only liked pink Starburst — there were so many other horrid flavors (orange got a particularly harsh review). So the next time he saw me, he gave me a huge box full of pink Starburst with a letter in it explaining that he realized he loved me when I was being absolutely unreasonable about something as dumb as a candy... and he still adored me. I still remember that gesture to this day.”
— Jacynth LeMaistre, 29, Palo Alto, CA
He put himself to the test... but we both won
“This guy and I had been casually dating and were slowly growing to like each other. But I think both of us were too bashful to come out and say so… that is, until one afternoon when we were lying on the beach. I was reading Cosmopolitan, and there was this quiz in it called: “Is It Love Or Lust For You?” Surprisingly, he volunteered to take the quiz — and answered all the questions (except, notably, one about whether he favored soccer over a girlfriend) in a very ‘it’s love’ kind of way. By the end of the test, I had my answer!”
— Sandra Heikkinen, 30, San Francisco, CA
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Great minds think alike, even when they don’t follow the same morning ritual
“I don’t drink coffee, but the man I was dating did — so one morning after I’d spent the night at his place, I brewed a pot. Surprised, he asked me why, given that I wouldn’t be drinking it. Tongue in cheek, I told him it was my way of saying, ‘I love you.’ He joked that I should do it more often, and so I did. It turned into this thing where every time I made him coffee it was me saying, ‘I love you.’ Sometimes I’d do it after a fight, and it would always get a smile. One day I was out running errands at Target and I found myself in appliances, where there was a coffee grinder. So as a laugh, I picked it up and took it home to him. When I gave him the gift, he started laughing hysterically. I didn’t understand why until he went to his closet and pulled out a coffee grinder! It turns out he’d bought me one, too — so I could tell him that I loved him more often!”
— Sharlene Smithers, 32, Vancouver, BC
I was there with her in spirit — and in her heart
“My girlfriend was kind of a high-strung individual, but I’d never seen her as bad as the morning she was headed for a huge job interview. It was something she really wanted, so she was obsessing over every little detail of her appearance and talking to herself in the mirror, practicing what she wanted to say. So I watched her leave in a flurry of anxiety, waited until about five minutes before she was scheduled to go in, then sent her a text message, because I knew she’d look at her phone before she went in to turn off the ringer. The text said, ‘I believe in you. You’re amazing, talented, and an asset to any company that is willing to take you on. I’m right there with you — break a leg!’ She said the text came in at just the perfect time, and it calmed her down to know I supported her. She aced the interview and got the job… and knew how I felt about her, too.”
— Adam Grayson, 26, Granada Hills, CA
His super-thoughtful care package revealed his feelings for me
“One day I was so sick that I couldn’t move off of the couch — I really was that weak — and I had to take a couple days of PTO. I was dreading how I was going to pass the time (seeing as I’m not big on soap operas and game shows), until one morning when my boyfriend dropped by on his way to work. He brought me a box filled with all of my favorite chick flicks — Legally Blonde, The Notebook, 10 Things I Hate About You, Working Girl, When Harry Met Sally…, etc. The list was endless — and he thoughtfully included some trashy romance novels, gossip magazines, and cold meds designed to knock me out if all of that didn’t work. Then he called and checked on me throughout the day. It was all so sweet, and not only did it show he cared for me, but that he listened — that pile of movies alone was the proof.”
— Jennifer Dougall, 30, Toronto, ON
His attentiveness kept me feeling safe and sound during our first vacation together
“My boyfriend and I had been dating for only a couple of months when we decided to take a trip to Las Vegas together. You know those in-room safes they stick in the closet? I always put really important stuff in there — like most of the contents of my wallet — because I don’t like taking more than one piece of ID, some cash, and a credit card in my pocket when I hit the town. We were getting ready to go out for the night when I went to the safe and couldn’t open it. I asked him if he’d programmed it already and he said, ‘Yeah, the code is 0602.’ I was stunned — that was my birth date! When I told him that, he said, ‘I know’ and gave me a little smile, then continued getting ready for the evening. I was flabbergasted for most of the night, especially considering I think I had mentioned my birth date maybe once in passing at that point. That small gesture showed me that not only did he pay attention to what I was saying, but that I was in his heart and his mind, too.”
— Jane Miller, 31, Los Angeles, CA
The way to both of our hearts? Through our stomachs, of course!
“My girlfriend and I have a silly little way of saying ‘I love you’ to each other. We each prefer to pack a lunch for work, and we usually make sandwiches. Instead of appointing one of us as the designated sandwich maker, we made a pact: No matter if we’re at her place or mine, whoever gets ready and downstairs first gets to tackle this daily chore. Somewhere along the way, a sweet little tradition began: We leave love notes in each other’s lunch bags. Sometimes it’s just a little slip of paper saying ‘I love you’ or ‘Last night was soooo hot!’ Other times it’ll say something just plain silly, like ‘Your love is better than salted, cured meats!’”
— Paul Sarkis, 38, Glen Rock, NJ
Carly Milne has written for Maxim, Stuff, and other publications.