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Introduction to 52 Ways to Show "I Love You"

An invitation to join the conversation in 2017.

Poppies by Clothilde/Roni Beth Tower
Source: Poppies by Clothilde/Roni Beth Tower

When I was actively practicing as a clinician, perhaps the most frequent questions I would ask distressed couples who found their way to my Consulting Room were, “When do you feel most loved?” And “When do you feel most loving?”

Inevitably, the questions caught them by surprise.

Often one partner would feel most loved when the other created a special dinner, initiated an invitation for sex, presented a particular gift, cheerfully took over a chore, answered a phone call from a needy parent. The list goes on. In contrast, the receiving partner may have resented extra unwanted calories, an invitation to make love that had come when the baby was brewing an ear infection, the gift that blew their budget or was not at all what he or she might have wanted, the coverage of a chore that may have represented a way of releasing tension, or conflict with the parent that needed to be addressed directly. You get the idea.

My clients’ problems invariably resided in a mismatch between ways in which one partner wanted to express love and what actually felt like loving behavior to the other. Once our conversations were able to help the couple clarify, to themselves and to each other, how they best experienced feeling loved and most wanted love to be expressed, the relationship began to take on a more personally responsive tone. Assumptions were called into question; initiatives became creative and more meaningful.

To promote this approach more broadly, on New Year’s Day, 2017, I am launching an initiative, “52 Ways to Show I Love You," on my Psychology Today blog. Each Sunday, I will showcase a specific way of expressing love. I will offer examples, review a bit of the psychological literature that pertains to that topic, and invite readers to share their own examples.

Comments, examples or stories submitted in response, with names withheld on request, may be shared in subsequent posts or collections. Please send them to me at

As we enter into this conversation, I hope that we will all grow in ways that help us learn, live and teach love to one another.

Thank you for helping create this perspective and joining me in this initiative.

Roni Beth Tower PhD, ABPP

copyright 2016 Roni Beth Tower

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