Whether you’ve been with your partner for a couple months or many years, sometimes it’s the tiniest gestures that make the biggest impact. Sure, planning elaborate dates can be great, but at the end of the day, a seemingly simple comment can mean everything.
To learn just what to say to make your partner feel adored, we chatted with top therapists for specific statements that will help you talk your way to tighter bonds.
Here’s exactly what to say if you want to strengthen your connection with your partner.
This simple phrase is powerful for confirming how right you are together—your partner will take pride in that, says Eli Finkel, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and author of The All-or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work.
“The feeling that you really know each other is what keeps you a ‘we’ rather than two ‘I’s,” says Amy Banks, M.D., director of advanced training for the Jean Baker Miller Center for Relational Growth in Wellesley, Massachusetts. “That’s perhaps the most important thing about partnering: knowing you belong with someone.”
Describing a character trait you admire in your partner is better than a generic “I love you” because it’s something you’ve observed about just them, says Megan Fleming, Ph.D., a New York City sex and relationship expert. Pointing it out when you notice it makes your compliment feel more real—and more poignant, because it shows your partner’s strengths are not going unnoticed.
On the flip side, feel free to playfully jab at your partner’s missteps. Psychologists call it “unconditional positive regard”—when we show our partner we see their flaws realistically but love them anyway, it encourages them to be more authentic around you, which can strengthen your bond, Finkel says.
“It can feel so good at the end of a long day to have someone simply appreciate you,” says Dr. Banks. Relationships need to be constantly fed with mutual respect and gratitude. So let her know how much you appreciate her taking care of the little things so she knows it doesn’t go unnoticed. It helps you too: Studies show expressing gratitude makes you feel closer to your significant other.
The article 4 Subtle Ways To Feel Instantly More Connected To Your Partner originally appeared on Women’s Health.