Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have found the romantic gestures that people appreciate the most.
The study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships examined how receiving romantic gestures make a person feel in other parts of their life.
Author, post-doctoral research scholar in quantitative psychology Saeideh Heshmati told EurekAlert,
We were curious about whether the majority of Americans could agree about what makes people feel loved on a daily basis, or if it was a more personal thing.
Our results show that people do agree, and the top scenarios that came back weren't necessarily romantic.
So it is possible for people to feel loved in simple, everyday scenarios.
It doesn't have to be over-the-top gestures
For the study 496 adults in the United States answered a questionnaire, containing 60 scenarios.
For each scenario the participants answered which ones would make them feel loved.
Actions do indeed speak louder than words
According to Heshmati,
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,'
Heshmati suggested that people trust an action is less likely to be fake, than saying 'I love you' which could be a lie.
Other scenarios were less tangible than actions or behaviours towards them.
Most people were agreed that in these scenarios they felt loved when:
Someone shows compassion toward them in difficult times.
A child snuggles up to them.
Their pets are happy to see them.
They get a compliment from a stranger.
The sun is shining.
They feel close to nature.
When romance becomes possessive
The study also investigated when 'romantic gestures', such as enquiring after your welfare, or regularly texting and calling a partner, cross over into the realm of possessive behaviour.
In the questionnaire, the participants categorised theses behaviours as possessive, such as when:
Someone wants to know they are at all times.
Someone tells them what is best for them.
Someone insists to spend all of their time together.
However, this final behaviour was not a consensus choice, with a significant minority of respondents also saying this behaviour would make them feel loved.
Men and Women
Heshmati's research also found that the way male and female respondents think about 'feeling loved' differed.
Men are more likely to think about sexual commitment and the pleasure of intercourse when thinking about love, whereas women are more prone to thinking about love as emotional commitment and security.
In the study's discussion it was suggested that this distinction could explain why male participants were displayed less knowledge of the consensus around what feeling loved was about, given that the 60 scenarios were more often concerning emotional commitment and security than sexual intimacy.