It’s definitely great to hear a partner say, “I love you.” But once you’ve crossed that line (or even before!), there are other things that can sometimes be just as good to hear.

That picture isn’t of my boyfriend and I, just to clarify. It’s just a picture of a very well-placed couple… But really, I feel that “I love you” has gotten such a huge reputation for being the ultimate phrase of love. It’s a good one! But I feel that there are other, very important ones that have more to do with lasting love. Here’s what I think they are!

1. “I respect you.”

Love is great, but respect is forever. I’m sure that every person has been in some relationship where the other person said “I love you” all the time, but then there were an awful problems all throughout. There wasn’t enough respect underneath all the chemistry. If a partner and another partner each respect each other, they’ll probably be able to give each other what they need more often. We’ll be able to be better friends, in addition to just-boyfriend-and-girlfriend. Which brings me to the next statement I think should be more revered…

2. “I’ll take care of it.”

Sooooooo many breakfast burritos and trips to the laundry room have resulted from this statement. But relationships thrive on everyone involved working on it. And sometimes, if I’ve had a bad day or if my partner is having a horrible day with his allergies, sometimes the other person will take on more of the day-to-day tasks. If someone in a relationship can ease your mental burden from day to day, that’s a very good thing. It’s a sign that they’re willing to sacrifice for you in small ways, which is a sign of devotion that goes beyond saying “I love you.”

3. “What do you mean by that?”

Sometimes when you’re communicating with your partner, it’s tempting to see them as never really going to be as right as you are. We all think this way, just because your partner’s probably the person to whom you’re closer to than anyone else. But taking the time to try and understand where your partner’s coming from is a sign that you want to believe that they can be right. You want to get them! This is why I love hearing this from my boyfriend — even if I’m babbling and aren’t making any sense, it’s a sign that he’s trying to understand me. And very encouraging!

4. “I need a break.”

Here’s something you don’t always hear from a partner, but it’s actually magic. Sometimes you just need to go out with the girls, cuddle up with a giant pillow, sip a homemade cocktail while listening to Ozzy, something that’s just about you. And you don’t want to say it in a way that offends your partner… but if they say, “Honey, I need a break. I’m going to go play Dungeons and Dragons,” you’re not offended at all! That’s because this phrase is all about self-care. If you can’t make taking care of yourself a priority, there’s no way you can be a good partner to anyone else. So stake out the bedroom, grab the Snuggie and put on that slasher movie! Your relationship depends on it!!

5. “Do what you have to do.”

Sure, this can be said at the end of a relationship when someone says that they need to leave. But this phrase can also pop up when one person needs a lot of time alone, or even if they just want to add more lemon juice to the fish that their lovely partner just cooked them. This phrase essentially translates as: “I give you permission to take care of yourself, even if it’s not to my benefit.” In a time when codependant relationships are in almost every rom-com you can find, this is a very good concept to adopt! If both of you are able to take care of yourselves, and allow the other person to do the same thing, then the relationship will probably end up a giant ball of circulating love. And who wouldn’t want that?!

Do you think there are more phrases that are just as good as “I love you”? Do you think these work for every relationship?

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