My mother had always complained about how my father never says “I love you”.
But it’s been 40 years since and, while they’re still not verbally affectionate, I know they love each other dearly.
Love is a verb, and one of the reasons why I believe their relationship is so enduring is because of their quiet yet genuine love.
So if you’ve ever wondered if your partner truly does love you even if they rarely say it, here are the signs you should look out for.
1) They pay attention to you
Attention lies at the root of all love.
You can’t exactly claim to love your partner if you can’t even be bothered to pay attention to them, after all.
And you can tell that your partner’s eyes are always on you, even if they rarely ever say “I love you.”
They’ll be there for you when you need company, and stay away when you’d rather be alone—all without you needing to tell them anything!
They’ll observe you so well in fact that they might realize that you’re starting to worry about your looks, so they’ll comment on how pretty you are whenever you try something new.
They pay close attention to you so they’ll know how to love you better.
2) They value your feelings
Someone can say “I love you” three times a day, but that won’t matter if they don’t value your feelings.
Thankfully, your partner does care about your feelings a lot.
They will hold your hand and listen to you when you tell them that you’re anxious, instead of telling you that you’re just being paranoid.
And when you tell your partner about how you’re still grieving over the death of your dog (which died five years ago), they’ll be there to listen instead of reminding you that, well… that it has been five years.
They don’t have to understand why you feel the way you feel to be there for you and share in your feelings. They’re there for you regardless.
3) They value your opinion
This is actually a pretty big thing, if you think about it.
Many people keep telling their partners how much they love them, but don’t actually respect them as equals.
Your partner does, however. They see you as their other 50% and won’t make big decisions without consulting you.
Where many others would dismiss their partners’ opinions out of hand and even make them feel stupid, your partner will take the time to listen attentively to whatever you have to say.
This shines especially in those times when the two of you don’t meet eye to eye.
As frustrating as it might be for them to hear you out and try to compromise, they nonetheless try to meet you in the middle.
4) They’re loyal
My mother said that she’d rather be with my father even if he isn’t expressive with his feelings because he was never once tempted to cheat on her.
Think about it—as reassuring as it may be to always hear “I love you”, it means nothing if they’re also checking out other people behind your back.
They might not say “I’ll never cheat on you!” either, but you can see their loyalty to you in their actions.
Your partner has never once shown any interest in others—even to the ones who are obviously into them. In fact, they turn down everyone who ever tries to make moves on them!
Now, isn’t that just love?
5) They cook your favorite meals or play your favorite music
One of my former partners used to keep telling me “I love you” but never does much for me—not even preparing me a cup of coffee. So I got sick of it.
It just wasn’t sincere, and those words felt like they were simply there to compensate for his lack of effort.
You see, saying “I love you” means nothing if you don’t put in the effort to make the other person happy. It’s not a magic word that suddenly makes everything better.
In contrast, your partner does put in a lot of effort, even if they don’t actually say anything. They do little things like cooking your favorite meals and putting on your favorite music.
There are many ways to say “I love you”, and perhaps some of the most poignant of them all are through small things like these.
6) They remember the things you tell them
So not only do they pay close attention to you, they remember the things you tell them—no matter how insignificant those things may be.
They remember your likes, your dislikes, your childhood dreams, and what you had for lunch two days ago. They might even remember what you wore when you first met.
The thing is that someone who doesn’t care at all won’t bother with these things.
When one loves you, however, remembering doesn’t take much effort at all.
So if your partner can recall a lot of things about you—from the things they observe to the things you’ve told them outright—then they truly love you.
7) They care for your wellbeing
If someone truly loves you, they have your best interests at heart.
So they’ll always make sure that you’re safe, healthy, happy, and most of all—that you’re turning into the person you really want to be.
They might not keep telling you how much they love you, but they’ll put effort into making sure that you’re doing well both physically and mentally.
They’ll remind you to visit the dentist, for example, or help you look up scholarships that you might be interested in.
A person who truly loves you truly cares for you as an individual and wants to see you thrive.
8) They make sacrifices for you
They may not be the sweetest or most openly romantic partner around, but that doesn’t matter. They’ll go to great lengths for you, and will happily make personal sacrifices for your sake.
That is to say, they’re the kind of person who’ll take a bullet for you or help you bury a body.
They’re your “ride or die”, your partner-in-crime, your constant person who’d do whatever it takes to make sure you’re doing well.
While others would just keep saying sweet nothings, they’d rather show their love by how much they’re willing to do things for you.
9) They’re extra protective of you
A partner who truly loves you might not be expressive, but they’d do whatever it takes to protect you from harm.
They’d ask their friends to watch over you and take your side when they can’t be there with you. They’ll make sure to keep you away from people who might hurt you, be it with words or wounds.
That is to say, your well-being is their number one priority.
And most important of all is that they do all of this while being mindful about your own autonomy. They will try to protect you, but back off if you tell them that you’re being too controlling.
Trust me, you’d rather be with this person than with someone who often says they love you but they don’t really care about your safety.
10) They’re happy when you’re happy
There are people who see their partner’s happiness with suspicion—they think it must be because they’ve found someone else, or that they’ll use their vacation as an excuse to cheat.
That’s not the case with your partner. If you’re happy, then they’re happy!
So they won’t bother grilling you about why you’re happy if you come home with a smile on your face.
If your friends invite you on a trip to Japan, they won’t demand that you bring them along or make you feel bad for it. They will instead tell you to have fun and not worry about them.
They’re not just trying to be nice. Knowing that you’re happy truly does give them joy. This is a big act of love and it definitely holds more weight than just the words “I love you.”
11) They’re very patient with you
What use are sweet words if they immediately lash at you when you screw up?
There are those who shower their partners with compliments and I love yous, only to snap at them if they make mistakes—even ones as simple as failing to put milk back in the fridge.
And this is what your partner decidedly DOESN’T do.
They might not tell you “I love you” every day, but they’re more than happy to be patient with your mistakes.
If anything, they might even go to great lengths to make sure they don’t snap at you and will be quick to apologize if they ever did so.
12) They take steps to improve your relationship
There are people who enjoy making you feel all loved and romantic, but don’t take the steps to ensure you’ll have a future together.
Even a thousand “I love yous” mean little if they don’t put in the effort into having a healthy relationship with you.
Luckily, your partner is a person of action.
They try to understand you, to build bridges between you, to understand if your dreams are compatible and to figure out how you can build a life together.
That is to say, your partner isn’t just enjoying the present. They’re trying to make sure you actually have a future together.
We’re used to associating love with things like being told “I love you” every day, or being taken on long romantic dates.
Easily visible love like this catches the imagination. It’s often what we see in movies, after all.
But this kind of love often quiets down as we grow older and find ourselves with too little time and energy to spare.
Quiet love endures, all the more genuine for its subtlety.
And as we grow older with the people we love, we discover and appreciate this form of love more and more.
So if your partner does all of the things I mentioned in this list, don’t doubt their love for you. You actually have someone who genuinely loves you even if they don’t say it.