The funny thing about love is that it is often described as the most powerful emotion in the world.
The surge of love when your child is born.
The trepidation and joy when your partner says they love you for the first time.
The overwhelming love of a best friend, sister or brother, grandparent.
It is intense and terrifying and wonderful and incomparable.
Yet, despite these truths, love also has a funny way of falling into monotony.
Our honeymoon stage ends, our baby’s nappy needs to be changed and it’s a miracle our partner remembered bread and milk on the way home from work.
Love is almost a routine.
Despite many people worrying about falling into this ordinariness of love, new research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships has found that it is the small acts of affection that count.
Asking almost 500 Americans, researchers were able to rank some of the acts that people felt most loved by.
And, in something pretty surprising, saying ‘I love you’ was fourth on the list.
Above those words, the most loving act was someone showing compassion towards them in a difficult time, followed by a child snuggling up to them.
Then at third, again above the words of ‘I love you’, people felt more loved by a pet happy to see them.
Speaking to Health Day, the study author, Saeideh Heshmati, said that it was interesting to see some of the most loving actions to be ‘non-romantic’.
“Our results show that people do agree, and the top scenarios that came back weren’t necessarily romantic,” Heshamti said.
“We found that behavioural actions — rather than purely verbal expressions — triggered more consensus as indicators of love. For example, more people agreed that a child snuggling with them was more loving than someone simply saying, ‘I love you.'”