The Opposite of a Flash Mob
December 6, 2019 6:10 PM   Subscribe

What small gestures have made you feel loved?

Looking for seemingly mundane expressions of love, the more specific the better, and not necessarily romantic. I'm interested in examples like "took the cream out of the fridge while I was pouring coffee" or "remembered I had an interview."

Bonus points for examples where this was THE moment you first knew someone loved you.

Please no flowers, surprise visits, or sticky notes.
posted by Miss Viola Swamp to Human Relations (50 answers total) 106 users marked this as a favorite
I love it when I come to bed to find that my husband has turned on my side of the electric mattress pad for me while I was brushing my teeth.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:14 PM on December 6, 2019 [8 favorites]

My husband leaves my allergy pills and vitamins on the breakfast table for me every day.
posted by vespabelle at 6:15 PM on December 6, 2019 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I am not sure if this counts, but when I had my tooth knocked out playing old man basketball, that night when I got home from the dentist, there was a $5 bill under my pillow from the tooth fairy. I am pretty sure my gf put it there.

She also always has two 16 oz bottles of soda in her fridge. One, Diet Coke. The other Diet Decaf Coke. She does not drink soda. She also does not approve of me drinking soda, but she keeps them there for me.
posted by AugustWest at 6:26 PM on December 6, 2019 [41 favorites]

I was in college, making cornbread in my studio apartment. The batter was thin, and there was rather a lot of it. When I was putting it into the preheated oven, the oven door swung up and hit the backs of my arms, right underneath the elbow. I dropped the pan, and the batter spilled all over the oven and the floor. The burns hurt terribly and I couldn't think straight, so I called first my mom, then my boyfriend. My mom calmed me down and gave me directions. My boyfriend came over and cleaned every bit of the spilled, half-cooked cornbread batter up for me. Sixteen years of marriage later, he's still just as considerate and generous towards me and our two sons. (Which is good, because our 2 1/2 year old spilled corn chowder all over the floor today!)
posted by shirobara at 6:29 PM on December 6, 2019 [26 favorites]

Non-romantic: When my dog died (at home, she was old and one day she just wasn't right and she died) two friends came over. One literally dropped everything left work early and came. She made all the phone calls to figure out the cremation and arranged for someone to come pick up the body. They both said death-relevant prayers for my dog. I am crying remembering this.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:41 PM on December 6, 2019 [30 favorites]

The occasional “Hey, I’m at X, would you like me to get you some Y” texts. Having somebody in your life who thinks about you when you’re not around is pretty great.
posted by mhoye at 6:43 PM on December 6, 2019 [31 favorites]

This is kind of a great question for a round-number Ask milestone, though. 340000!
posted by mhoye at 6:51 PM on December 6, 2019 [14 favorites]

I have a friend who always listens to me. Even when we’re in a crowded place and multiple people are talking over each other, and I kind of let my story trail off and lower my voice because no one is paying attention, he still responds to me. A very small thing that really makes you feel like someone cares.
posted by sallybrown at 6:54 PM on December 6, 2019 [26 favorites]

I love this question! My husband leaves the lights off and just uses the light from his cell phone when he's getting ready when I'm still sleeping and he has to be out the door early. My seven-year-old has some sensory issues that make casual physical contact uncomfortable for her a lot of the time, but if we're sitting next to each other, she often puts the toes of one foot under my leg so we're barely touching. She's done that since she was a toddler and I love it. My six-year-old is very snuggly but most nights as I'm tucking her in, she throws her arms around my neck and whispers, "You're the BEST" and every single time it feels like she means it.
posted by SeedStitch at 6:56 PM on December 6, 2019 [17 favorites]

My husband makes sure my water pitcher in the fridge is always full and sets up my coffee pot every night.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 6:59 PM on December 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

My husband rubs my feet pretty much every night as we watch TV.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:02 PM on December 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

When my husband does basically any small bit of work on my bicycle for me, anything from making sure the lights are charged to minor repairs.
posted by juliapangolin at 7:03 PM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

There is a pill I have to take first thing every morning. If my husband is up before me (which is usually), he puts the pill and a glass of water on the table by the bed, so I don't even have to get up to take it.

I make tea and put it in a thermos to take along when I go to work in the morning. He will put out the thermos and the prep stuff on the counter for me, and put fresh water in the kettle ready to boil.

Also, our cat is super clingy and will try to get me up pretty early in the morning (via various diabolical cat methods). If I am feeling off and my husband is up already, he will grab the cat and keep him in another room with him away from me so I can catch a bit more sleep.
posted by gudrun at 7:08 PM on December 6, 2019 [8 favorites]

Here in the mountains of Vermont, going outside and seeing all snow has been cleared off one's car is the nicest thing possible.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 7:15 PM on December 6, 2019 [38 favorites]

I love Coke but I can’t control myself and will drink it endlessly, which I don’t want to do. My partner buys it, hides it in our home somewhere, and puts one tiny can into the fridge each morning.

Partner also hates eggs and coffee but leaned how to make both the way I like them.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:21 PM on December 6, 2019 [20 favorites]

One weekend evening, early in our relationship, I wasn't feeling very well (rather exhausted actually) and didn't feel up to cooking us dinner -- so my Sweetheart said he'd take care of it and would "rustle a little something up for us".

And so I went to the bedroom, where I sat up propped up in bed with my laptop, trying to relax with a bit of light reading. Less than a half hour later, he comes into the bedroom, looking spiffy wearing my black chef apron, and sets up one of my wooden tray tables beside the bed -- and then proceeds to bring in a gorgeous heavy metal grill with a flame base, that he lights up, and then returns once again with a Swiss cheese fondue for the two of us, complete with home-toasted baguette croutons!

I was so surprised and grateful that I was almost in tears! Especially since I had previously mentioned to him when we first got together, how I was so pleased to hear that he could actually cook. Because in my previous relationships -- it always fallen to me, and after 2 decades of those expectations, I just got so very sick and tired of being expected to do all the meal-oriented labour for others.

It just felt so incredibly wonderful that someone had understood how taxing it could be to prepare food for others, but that he also understood how a simple but elegant little meal could make me feel so loved and cared for, at a time when I was feeling particularly wretched.

I think that was one of the things that helped nudge me over into believing that I could spend the rest of my life with this wonderful guy. And 8 years later, we are *still* together -- and he still cooks wonderful suppers for me, and in turn, I seduce him into actually eating with my "hobbit-style" breakfast meals, as the early part of the day is when he has a hard time getting any food into himself.
posted by Jade Dragon at 8:24 PM on December 6, 2019 [25 favorites]

When he checks the restaurant menu for vegetarian options before suggesting we try it.
posted by PaulaSchultz at 8:41 PM on December 6, 2019 [8 favorites]

My feet get dry and itchy and sometimes I would ask my husband to rub lotion on them before bed. One day, several years ago, he decided to rub lotion on my feet without me asking. He did it the next day, and the next. He's only missed a handful of days since. I love the fact that he committed to do something nice for me every day, on his own initiative.
posted by arrmatie at 9:17 PM on December 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Some weekend in high school, I somehow mentioned offhand around my dad that I liked the smell of lavender (I think I'd just recently learned the real thing was nothing like the soap/candle version?) When I came home that evening, he'd gotten a little lavender plant with pretty stones and left it on my windowsill. It was so random and so sweet.
posted by jameaterblues at 10:51 PM on December 6, 2019 [26 favorites]

When we were first dating he bought a a huge amount of sparkling water for me to drink while visiting his apartment, something he does not care for. It took me almost six months to drink it and before I hit the last few bottles he'd gotten another six months worth.

Now he checks and replaces the head on my electric toothbrush, something I only figure out when I brush my teeth and notice it's working better.

He turns the seat warmer on for on days no one but me would be cold.

He checks the dogs on our security camera and texts me to look when they are sleeping in practically silly positions.
posted by lepus at 11:02 PM on December 6, 2019 [17 favorites]

They set my favorite pillow out when I sleep at their place, and give me an extra blanket and crank the heat so I don't get cold. My coffee is brought to me in bed, in my favorite cup, at exactly the right temperature, mixed to my ideal color and acidity. They set out my toothbrush and shaving brush on the counter. Offer to drive which I loathe doing. When I cat-sit for them the cupboard is always stocked with my favorite snacks, and they leave me extra portions of meals, because food is love. They buy fatty roasts for me, even though they prefer a modest cut. All day long they adjust the windows and sliding doors to keep me sunny and warm. When I tell them stories about my day they listen deeply and ask insightful questions, then check in for new developments a few days later. They solicit useful tips, articles and connections to further my goals. I'm always stocked in pens and notebooks, which we are both fanatics about. They crank the sound system a bit louder for me!
posted by aw jeez at 11:44 PM on December 6, 2019 [10 favorites]

When I go to bed in winter to find that there's not one, but two hot water bottles waiting for me, with my PJs sitting under one of them.
posted by cholly at 1:26 AM on December 7, 2019 [9 favorites]

Best answer: My husband usually goes to bed earlier than I do. On cold nights, he'll warm up my side for me, then cheerfully move over when I come to bed. Mmm, warm toasty love.
posted by tomboko at 2:10 AM on December 7, 2019 [29 favorites]

When one of my friends brings me a cup of coffee in the morning because they know I often don't have time to make/buy my own
posted by Chrysalis at 2:27 AM on December 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

When my husband makes the bed, because although I love getting into a well made mad, I loathe making it every day.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:14 AM on December 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

This question made me think of a lyric in the Jonathan Coulton song Glasses, a song about a mature relationship between two young parents: "The thoughtless kindness of a coffee cup waiting by the door"
posted by JDHarper at 4:30 AM on December 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

Last night, I opened a can of soup for my daughter to have with dinner. He finished off what was left of that soup for his dinner so I could have the leftovers I really wanted because he knew that I would feel obligated to eat the soup instead.
posted by Night_owl at 5:37 AM on December 7, 2019 [7 favorites]

My friends generally like to walk a lot and take public transit and hate cars and so do I but I've got some mobility issues. A couple of my friends in particular will just not make a big thing out of walking my pace, taking a cab if I have to, waiting a long time for the bus, suggesting we go to events and destinations they know I can physically get to, and I super appreciate it.
posted by ferret branca at 8:00 AM on December 7, 2019 [14 favorites]

My husband always texts me videos and articles he thinks I'd find interesting or funny. Always brightens my day to know he's thinking of me.
posted by merriment at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

My first love, when I was 25, would always say, "it's great to see you" with a big smile when we met up. No one had ever said that to me and the first time he said it I was very surprised but eventually got into the habit of saying it to others.
posted by bendy at 12:59 PM on December 7, 2019 [7 favorites]

My father-in-law, the very first Thanksgiving I ever spent with them, asked my then-girlfriend what my favorite part of the meal was, and proceeded to make my family recipe of cranberry sauce to have at dinner. He has made it every year since. It's been 11 years and since then I have become estranged from my whole family, and his little gestures of love make me feel so safe and like I belong.

One of my friends knew I was having a truly heartwrenching week, came to my house before I woke up on a Saturday and left a branch of cherry blossoms that she had cut from a tree in a place I love for me in a jar with a heart shaped note and a coffee. I woke up to it and cried from how sweet and surprising it was.

Several of our friends mailed us sympathy cards when our little cat unexpectedly died, and it meant so much to be seen in our grief.

My wife will find things in the laundry basket for me. This may seem odd but I have sensory visual discrimination issues and I get really overwhelmed trying to visually sort through a pile of things.

One friend mails me cards and letters all the time, not even fancy or profound ones, just details of her life to share it with me.

A close friend mails me a box of books she's already read every 6-8 months or so, just to share them.

A friend made art for me for a project I'm doing. The process of texting about what i needed and him sending me ideas and mock ups made me feel very loved, like my creative ideas matter.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 2:11 PM on December 7, 2019 [8 favorites]

They hugged me because they were happy to see me in a situation where a 'Hi' would have sufficed. There's a difference between a loving hug and a polite hug. A polite hug is swift and involves minimal actual contact. A loving hug is a chest to chest thing, not necessarily sexual, but it doesn't minimise physical contact. This was the latter kind of hug.

They said, "Love you."
posted by unicorn chaser at 5:00 PM on December 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I rarely desire breakfast; one random morning I mentioned in passing that I actually wanted a nosh before leaving the house but, alas, I'd run out of time to whip something up. By the time I'd washed my face and brushed my teeth, he'd cooked up several slices of bacon and put them in a makeshift aluminum foil pouch so I could munch in the car, paper towel included. It was so small and kind, an immediate response to a minor need I had already accepted wouldn't be met. For the next two years I referred to it as the kindest thing he had ever done for me ("that's the kindest thing I've ever done??!" was the amused reply every time)--I still feel the warm rush of love I experienced in that moment when it comes to mind.
posted by youarenothere at 6:25 PM on December 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

I love to complain that my ex-husband was an awful ass, but he did some really thoughtful things. One weekend I was sick with the flu and he actually moved the gigantic TV from the living room to our bedroom so I could watch movies in bed.

I now live with a friend who I have known for 20 years, and she does a lot of sweet things that a romantic partner would do. Like when I was having a stressful week and got behind on my share of the chores, she cleaned up my kitchen mess.
posted by radioamy at 11:26 PM on December 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Years back, I offhandedly mentioned to Mrs. Ghidorah (maybe even before we were married?) that I needed to go and get a new knit cap for my bald, cold head. The next day, she came home from the department store where she worked at the time with a simple red knit cap that I absolutely adore, and wear to this day. It’s one of the very few articles of clothing I own with a logo on it (she was working at the Ralph Lauren counter), and, man, I don’t know how to explain this without sounding like a schmuck, but I generally avoid logos. She knew that, and got the cap with the smallest possible logo they had. I’ve had that hat for years, I wore it today, and every time I put it on, I think of that day.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:32 AM on December 8, 2019 [6 favorites]

Our front door has a tricky iron security gate. My husband makes sure it is unlocked for me every morning and that my keys are on the counter, as I am rushing around frantically, about to be late for work.
posted by marguerite at 5:04 AM on December 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

My amazing SO has blown me away with these gestures.

I'm vegetarian, he is not. He checks restaurant menus before we go out.

I'm the cook. If we're spending the evening or weekend together, he calls me on his way home from work to ask if I need anything from the store.

When it's hot at night, he makes sure the standing fan points at me.

He introduced me to his friends early on in the relationship and makes sure I feel included in outings with them.

He doesn't like taking public transit as much as I do but is more than willing to humor me, because he knows it's important to me.

When we started doing long distance with a time difference, he said he'd start calling me on his way home from work. And he was serious: he does this every single day, without fail. It makes us feel connected to each other, and it makes me feel like a priority in his life.

He loves crossword puzzles. The harder, the better. I got us a subscription to the NYT, so now we do the Sunday crosswords together over the phone.

I put little love notes in his wallet or lunch box so that he finds them at work.

When I took a major exam, he planned his work schedule around it in advance so he could celebrate with me. This made me so happy - a reminder that he factored me into his life in a small but meaningful way.

He patiently stayed home with me during the months I studied for that exam, never complaining, saying, 'All that matters is that we spend time together.' Even though we are in totally different industries, he understood how important it was and supported me 100%.

When we're out together, he'll find some way to maintain physical contact, which I love.

Once, when I made a self-deprecating joke about my appearance, instead of just countering weakly with 'No, you're pretty,' he looked at me in all seriousness and said, 'I wish you could see what I see.' In that moment, I felt more loved than I've ever felt in a relationship before. If we get married someday, I want to put that in our vows.
posted by aquamvidam at 5:51 AM on December 8, 2019 [17 favorites]

After an exhausting bar shift, he ceded the couch to me to flop on and then found the cat and placed her on my chest to cuddle with.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:20 AM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Since folks have covered the romantic ones, I'll say that a gesture that always touches me from friends is when they follow up on something that was really awful a few days after the awful thing - even just a quick text of "how are you doing after THING?". It's easy to remember to be sympathetic in the initial 24 hours, but doing it again a few days later after everyone has moved on to other things means a lot.
posted by mostly vowels at 1:50 PM on December 8, 2019 [13 favorites]

A few months after my husband and I began dating, I came down with a serious case of norovirus and.... had a diarrhea accident on the bathmat while throwing up into the toilet. I called him to see if he would pick up some 7Up or Gatorade or something and come to my place since there was a blizzard happening and I was too dehydrated to physically get down the stairs out of my apartment (I actually collapsed just walking from the bathroom to the living room while calling him). He came over and not only brought the supplies, but disposed of the ruined bathmat that I'd thrown in the tub to get it out of sight. That's love!
posted by jabes at 11:47 AM on December 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

The other day, I got home after a long day at work and found two rolls of quarters and a table talk pie on the counter in my kitchen. I'd been meaning to get quarters so I could do laundry for nearly a week, and I love pie. Something about the combination of the useful gesture and the purely sweet one was so thoughtful and overwhelming that I nearly cried in my kitchen. Instead, I texted my partner every heart emoji there is and then did a lot of laundry.
posted by dizziest at 6:31 AM on December 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

He remembers when a place we’ve been to before feels cold to me, and will stick my hoodie in the car the next time we go to that place.

He can tell from my face when I have a migraine coming on and will go get me meds / eye mask / dim lights and lower sound for me, before I even know it’s coming on myself.

He notices when my own shampoo—which he does not use—is running low and order a new bottle.

He rubs my feet and back every day.

He saves me the best bite from his plate.

He thinks weeks in advance about new events or changes in the schedule that might surprise my toddler and starts talking to her about those new things for days beforehand, to prepare her.

He to this day finds the person who has no friends near them in a room and sits down with / strikes up conversations with them.

He is the best person I’ve ever met.
posted by anthropomorphic at 2:56 PM on December 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

I introduced my wife to Metafilter?

But seriously, as a teacher and professor, one of the greatest feelings I get is when kids ask me for recommendations. I know some kids have to ask their English teacher for them, and that's fine. But when the ones I really like ask me, and I've been hoping to write for them, do, it's a really good feeling. It's being trusted. It's being made to feel important and impactful. And it means a lot when the ones you care about ask you for help.

I think it's really interesting that lots of the gestures included on here make you feel special, romantic or otherwise. You notice these things, and they are things you've asked for, or shown preference for, or things like that. It's not that you have power or influence--which is maybe what is implied in kind doings--but that you are felt needed as the giver. You can do something.

I have the power to do things for people. And I do it for good, and happiness, and trying to make people's days and lives better. It's a scary position to be in, but those moments...

And I rub my wife's feet every night I possibly can.
posted by Snowishberlin at 3:13 PM on December 10, 2019

I used to work with a wildlife rehab. I had a hummingbird to care for at our house for about a year. I had to mix up a tiny amount of special powder and a bit of water for her, fresh, every morning. It was tough to get the amount of powder correct since it was less than 1/4 tsp. One day I went to get the powder and discovered a tiny spoon my husband had carved out of wood so I could portion out just the right amount every time.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 7:26 PM on December 10, 2019 [22 favorites]

I had a job as a motorcycle mechanic and I only had a motorcycle to commute the 45 minutes on. I had started the job in the summer but it was getting cold. I rod in to the 40Fs (4C to 10C) and told my boss I wouldn't be able to make it next week. He took me to another motorcycle shop and bough be a heated jacket, one with the arms and neck heat. That evening my boss said just turn the jacket up all the way. I road off and it didn't get hot right away and I was really cold. But then I had to stop at a light and I felt something, my exhausted and cold debilitated mind at first interpreted it as love.
posted by bdc34 at 7:19 AM on December 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

Our neighbours were two elderly sisters, in their 80s, who had a slightly younger brother, married, and two older brothers, deceased. The older brothers had died in their 50s leaving behind widows and young children.

The younger brother did not marry until he was in his 50s, and married his secretary, who was 30 years younger. When they got married, she asked if they could spend as much time together as possible as his brothers had both died by then, and longevity seemed unlikely.

There were two boys born, and he took early retirement in the 1960s, and they thought things would go well. But his investments suffered under the inflation of the 1970s, so the boys went to a good school, but more of the meals came from the garden than the shop, and patching and darning were well used skills.

So in the 1980s, we spoke about those times, and the wife said, "There were days that we knew were going to be a struggle. But he would still get up early to make the boys' lunches and send them off to school. Then he would make breakfast for me and bring me breakfast in bed and we would plan the day together. Every day of my married life, my husband has brought me breakfast in bed."

He lived well in to his nineties. She was incomparable in competencies.

I cannot think of a better way to prepare to conquer the world than by having been provided with breakfast in bed.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 3:55 AM on December 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

Without being asked, very early in our relationship, my now-husband started keeping a spare tampon in the pocket of every one of his coats. (I am a little absent-minded).

He cleans up my messes all the time and never mentions it afterward.

I hate waking up in a dark bedroom, but we need to keep the blinds closed because he's a light sleeper. He usually wakes up first, and pulls them all up so it's bright for me.

When we're at a gathering with my family, who live far away, or they come to visit, he usually endeavors to make one whole meal himself for everybody else (this is a win-win as it gives him a little alone time too!).

He updates all of my devices, and keeps them charged when I leave them lying around the house.

(This is on top of his other amazingness, including being our head chef and accountant. :) )
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 12:59 PM on December 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

A gesture I always appreciate (receiving OR giving!): when I'm on foot, but my friend has a bike, and the friend walks their bike alongside me so we can talk. It's such a straightforward signal that someone enjoys spending time with me.
posted by a huckleberry at 12:08 PM on December 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

My dad makes sure my mom's coffee maker is ready to go every night/morning before she wakes up.

When I was working retail (one of the happiest jobs of my life, no lie), he got up early to make me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was 29 and living at home after a severe illness. Best sandwiches ever.

My mom used to wash my face for me every night after I came home from school, well into my 20s. She was always super gentle and at the end she'd give my forehead or cheek a big smooch.

My uncle ALWAYS tells my aunt how gorgeous she looks any time he sees her get dressed up for the day. "Oooh, look at YOU," he'll murmur in this very pleased voice. It's the cutest.

My cat likes to tell me about her day and then sits behind me on the top of our couch so I can use her as a pillow.

So many wonderful little things.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 9:26 PM on February 24, 2020

I love working but I hate dealing with money. I just have no interest. My husband knows this, does this for a living, and sorted out my tax nightmare for me (completely caused by my lack of interest in money, years prior to meeting him). He took the thing that had been hanging over my head that I basically had a phobia about to the point of panicky breathing and managed the whole thing. He even worked a financial miracle and got me money back! He also manages all my invoicing.

(And to head off any lectures about not knowing what’s happening with my cash and the dangers of handing it over to my husband while burying my head in the sand, he’s taken it upon himself to educate me about all of this and we regularly have state of the nation discussions about our financial life so the tax thing never happens again.) For me, romance isn’t chocolates and flowers. Romance is saying let me sort out your tax. That man’s a keeper.
posted by Jubey at 11:34 PM on February 24, 2020

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