10 Things to Say to Your Partner Instead of “I Love You”

Saying “I love you” can become a form of punctuation in a long-term relationship. People say it at the end of a phone call, or on their way out the door, or as they’re falling asleep at night. And there’s nothing wrong with this. Expressing love often is a good thing! And it’s a nice way to check in with your partner each day — or multiple times a day. Except that when you say it so often, the phrase often becomes rote. How often do you say those three words, “I love you,” without stopping to think about the fact that you love this person? Most of the time, right? Again, there’s nothing wrong with this. We’re all busy. We have jobs to do, Facebook statuses to update, weeds to pull, mail to open, sex to have. If we paused to consider what it means to love someone every time we said “I love you,” we’d never have time to shop for groceries.

That all said, sometimes it’s nice to stop and actually think about how much your partner means to you. So here are ten things you can say to your partner to convey this — words that are much harder to recite without thinking about what they really mean. Especially the parts that make you blush. Just don’t use them all up in one day!

1. You’re so fucking hot.

That sneaky swear word is there to say: I’m so overwhelmed by how good-looking you are that only an f-bomb will truly convey my feelings.

2. I’m more in love with you today than I was yesterday.

We like the specificity of this. It’s not just that you love your partner more than you used to, it’s that today you actually sat down and thought about the fact that your love grew in the past twenty-four hours.

3. You just made me laugh so hard I almost pooped my pants.

Okay, maybe skip the poop mention. But you get the idea: fortunately, for long-term monogamous couples, a sense of humor doesn’t droop in the same way an aging penis or aging boobs do. Still, though, it’s easy to forget how funny your partner is. This is a reminder to take the time to make each other laugh… and to appreciate it when it happens.

4. I love your body.

When’s the last time you objectified your partner? Sure, they know you love them, but do they know you still lust after their body? Stare and ogle all you like — at some point in a relationship, this starts to feel like a compliment.

5. I hate everybody today, but you — you I can stand.

Because sometimes a muted compliment is the best compliment of all. And on some days, the best we can hope for in marriage is that we’re with someone we can stand, day in and day out.

6. I love watching you run/give a speech/play an instrument/take a photograph.

Standing back and admiring your partner is a way to increase the erotic distance between the two of you… and to remind you and your partner what it was like when you two met, and you thought each other the bee’s knees.

7. I love it when we talk, and I love it when we don’t.

Talk is cheap, but companionable silence is something you have to work for.

8. You look even better now than when I met you.

Because aging gets everyone down. Even better if you can be specific: Find something about your partner that has improved with age — a leaner face, perhaps? a more muscular torso? — and compliment them on that.

9. I love to fuck you.

Because it doesn’t always have to be missionary when it’s monogamous, and it doesn’t always have to be “making love,” either.

10. I fucking love you.

Just try saying this without meaning it. It’s impossible!


  1. But please, only say “you’re so fucking hot” while pulling off panties/boxers/underwear, whatever – just don’t say it and then roll over and go to sleep.

  2. What about saying “I fucking hate you right now?” Sometimes that’s the way I feel, and it seems like, if I can be honest in those moments, then maybe when I say “I love you,” it’ll have more meaning. No? Should I just keep that stuff to myself?

    1. Nooo, no no. There is no hate “right now.” Hate is like love, it’s a big deal. It doesn’t come and go like weather. What you’re probably experiencing is just anger. You want to say that because 1) it would vent your anger, and 2) it would transfer your bad feelings to someone else (misery loves company, as they say). You’re using “honesty” as a justification for mistreating your partner.

      Sounds like you get a little carried away with your own moods, madame. Sounds like what you need is some yoga breathing.

      1. But surely it’s okay to say *something* right? There’s a time for yoga breathing, and there’s a time when you should say something, yes? Maybe not “I fucking hate you right now” But how about, “I’m so angry at you right now I can’t breathe”?

        1. Sure, drop the “f” bomb and the “h” bomb and it’s much better. I still think that’s not the best course of action though. In the heat of anger is the worst time to say anything. If someone makes you so mad you can’t breathe you should walk away from them. You need to breath. Come back together when you can breathe again. Maybe you’ll be ready to understand each other; maybe you’ll put egos aside and agree to disagree; or maybe – as I find happens most often – you just no longer feel like fighting over the thing that seemed so important a little while ago.

          1. Well, I like the sound of this approach because I’m a Brit who hates any kind of confrontation! I’m still emotionally scarred from the two fights Lo and I have ever had. 🙂 But the fact that I like your advice for this reason makes me wonder if, just sometimes, walking away and breathing deeply can simple be an excuse for not dealing with the emotions at hand…?

          2. I see it as avoiding behavior rather than avoiding emotion. I’ll talk out anything my girl wants to as long as she’s being halfway respectful about it, but if she screamed, “I fucking hate you right now,” I’d be out of that discussion right then and there.

            But yeah, I’ve definitely seen that – people who kind of petulantly stomp away from an argument that needs to be had.

          3. Yeah, I’m with Johnny. This makes me think of that study on couples’ arguing that posits that you can very accurately predict which couples will break up in the next few years if you look at the level of contempt displayed when they argue.

            Here… I found the link: http://theconversation.com/the-science-of-romance-can-we-predict-a-breakup-26041

            I hadn’t recalled the other “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse,” and quite frankly, my wife kinda does the shut-down/stonewalling thing. Personally, I don’t see it as a harbinger of divorce, but just her (non)argumentative style.

            Anyway, it is interesting, the contempt predictor thing. I’d say telling someone you hate them is pretty contemptuous. Whether it ultimately leads to divorce or not, who knows, but it’ll undoubtedly lead to an unhappy partner in the here and now. Life’s short. Tell your partner how amazing s/he is as often as possible. Try to walk away and say as little as possible when you’re mad.

          4. Interesting, the Four Horsemen. I guess I’m suggesting stonewalling as a defense against the other three.

          5. There’s probably a fine line between walking away/taking a deep breath, and just shutting down to avoid confrontation. We guess stone-walling is kind of like porn: you know it when you see it. Also, in terms of the Four Horseman — nobody’s perfect, and we bet everyone has one of these that they struggle with in particular. If they say they don’t, then guess what? Their horseman is defensiveness!

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