1. Mark, 29. One of my exes would make little sounds when she was happy, that I knew she wouldn’t ever make in public because they were kind of funny. Or she would say things with a certain funny lilt that signaled that she was in her element in the relationship, that we were sort of synced. I think she didn’t notice it but I noticed it every time and sort of got trained to do stuff to elicit reactions like that, because I liked it so much.
2. Andrew, 22. A girl I was dating insisted on touching feet to say goodnight no matter what. No matter how tired we were or if we were at odds with each other. I remember one time, we had this really stupid argument and were laying in bed, backs facing each other. I really thought it was gonna be the first time ever we didn’t touch feet, and right when I turned the light off, I felt her foot sneak over and graze mine.
3. John, 25. Giving me a kiss goodnight when she thinks I’m asleep but I’m not.
4. Erik, 30. Surprising me for no reason, especially at the office, and especially especially with cookies she brought to share with my coworkers. It’s not just that she’s thinking of me, she’s thinking of everybody in my life as well.
5. Nial, 34. When she makes my friends laugh.
6. Michael, 27. She had this system for dish towels that she was really concerned with keeping in order, that I could never understand. There was a dishtowel for drying your hands, one for wiping up spills, one for totally clean stuff like using to pick up a hot pan, or whatever. She had them in different places in the kitchen. Whenever I would accidentally use one of the towels for something other than its intended use, she’d get minorly upset. I always thought it was so funny.
7. Brandon, 33. Mid-day “thinking of you” texts. (Especially when they’re a little NSFW.)
8. Kory, 25. She doesn’t do it a lot, but when she insists on reading something out loud to me. It’s cute.
9. Nick, 24. When she leaves me a cup of coffee on the counter before she goes to work, with cream and sugar and everything.
10. Stephen, 28. When she brings up a very small detail that I once mentioned in passing very matter-of-factly, as though she takes everything I say genuinely and seriously. (And more important, that she listens, even to the small, stupid stuff.)
11. Joe, 27. One of my exes insisted that we take showers together most of the time, and she would shave me (my face.) Whenever she needed me to move my face so that she could get to a tough spot she would unintentionally make the face herself so I could mimic it.
12. Rob, 32. When she gives me a really sincere, soft, slow kiss, and pulls back and just looks at me kind of speechlessly, and I know that she really meant it. Guys often get chalked up as being sex-driven emotionless jerks, so people find it surprising when we get romantic in bed… but to be honest, it’s just as surprising (and absolutely gut-melting) when a girl does too.
13. Holden, 23. She let me cry on her shoulder in my car after I found out some particularly heartbreaking news about my family.
14. Matt, 25. When I see her glancing at me in the grocery store or over dinner or while doing the dishes, and she was giving me that ‘I love you’ look in the most objectively unromantic context. We’re always supposed to be bending over backwards to show that we love someone, but really all it takes is that look, you know the one.
15. Kyle, 28. We were living together. One day a week she would make me leave the apartment all day because she had to have “her cleaning day.” In the beginning, sometimes I couldn’t leave the apartment because I had urgent work on my computer or whatever. So I shut the door and she started “her cleaning day” by turning up the stereo FULL BLAST on music I’ve NEVER heard her listen to, and begins stomping around. At the time I was like “omg what is this shit, turn it down” and she got upset and was like, “that’s why I asked you for this day.” We listened to music a lot together, and the music was so unlike the stuff we listened to. In combination with the fact that she had it turned all the way up, I thought it was so cute.
16. Brian, 26. Watching her get ready for any event. She doesn’t let it happen too often, but every once in a while, she’ll accidentally leave the door open and I’ll steal glances. She’s just so methodical about it, it blows my mind. She’s so beautiful done up or not, but to watch her put that effort in with every hope that I’ll say “Wow, you look amazing” is the best.
17. Brody, 33. My ex and I lived an hour and a half a part the first year she was in grad school. She would drive to see me every weekend or I would go to her. Right before one of us had to leave, she’d leave me a little note in my pocket to find later telling me she loved me or she would buy me a card for no reason with a little message and put it somewhere for me to find. It was really sweet.