How to understand that you are loved? If you prefer snuggling with your spouse to hearing him or her say, “I love you,” you’re in good company. Researchers at Penn State University found that, overall, Americans feel most loved when on the receiving end of “small, non-romantic gestures.”

How to understand that you are loved? It really is the little things, researchers say

Even though Americans argue about anything and if you raise a topic, the likelihood is it will attract totally opposite opinion, it seems that residents of the USA can agree on some things. The vast majority of people are in consensus of what things we see as loving.

If you are trying to understand whether you are being someone’s one-and-only, it’s the non-romantic everyday acts of kindness and companionship that count the most.

The research

The study of Penn State University  set to further research on the effects of love on day-to-day health and well-being

Postdoctoral research scholar Saeideh Heshmati and colleague Zita Oravecz, both of the school’s College of Health and Human Development, conducted a survey of approximately 500 American men and women.

Participants were presented with 60 scenarios containing positive, neutral, and negative actions and asked to evaluate the extent to which they believed, in each scenario, the average person would feel loved.

  • While there were minor differences of opinion on some scenarios, in general participants agreed that small everyday behaviors (not words or even grand romantic displays) had the strongest impact on an individual’s feelings.
  • Participants also agreed that controlling behaviors, such as being required to check in constantly with a partner, are least likely to make someone feel loved.
  • However, researchers caution that in some cultures that are more communal in nature (such as Russia or Ukraine, for example) controlling behaviors may be seen as loving, although Americans are put off by such displays.

Participant responses were analyzed with a model of American cultural consensus—that is, what the majority of local residents believe is acceptable or unacceptable behavior—and also revealed that verbal expressions (simply saying, “I love you,” for example) are significantly less important.

This finding indicates that Americans in general see actions as much more powerful than words, particularly in personal relationships.

Men vs. women

The researchers also observed important differences in the responses of men versus women.

According to Heshmati, this may be due to the fact that men and women are cognitively distinct when it comes to experiencing or even talking about affection and adoration.

Despite the respondents’ overall agreement, however, Heshmati cautioned against seeing the results as a one-size-fits-all approach to romantic relationships. Every individual (and culture) is different and has his or her own preferences when it comes to expressions and feelings of love—a truth that’s important to keep in mind when choosing a romantic partner.

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Lina Rowling
Lina Rowling

Oh, that’s interesting. People often consider that the words mean nothing and sometimes that’s true. People show their love in little and mere things, I believe.


Wow, I’m a bit confused. I always thought, my boyfriend does not like me very much and he does not appreciate me, but now, thanks to this post, I learned the truth. I did not even know that he was just hiding it. And he expresses his feelings differently.