Most of us remember the first time someone bought us flowers out of the blue or surprised us with a homemade meal – because it made us feel awesome.
If you’re looking to improve your dating life in 2017 (and boost your own well being in the process), here’s something to try: small random acts of kindness.
According to a new study published in the journal Emotion, small romantic gestures are not only good for your relationship, they’re good for your emotional well-being, too.
The researchers surveyed 175 married people about how often they did something nice for their partner and how often something nice was done for them. Researchers discovered that gestures that were acknowledged were most beneficial to the couple’s relationship. However, they also discovered that the gestures that went unnoticed still made the giver happier overall – proof that it really is better to give than to receive.
Study author Harry Reis points out, “Humans are wired to give. We are a cooperative species, and there are mechanisms in us that promote social behavior.”
While the study was focused entirely on married couples, the idea that small romantic gestures can improve your relationship(s) can also apply to dating.
Here are a few small, romantic gestures you can do today to improve your online dating life.
- Buy them their favorite snack.
If someone shows up to our date with a bag of my favorite gummy candy, my heart is basically theirs. Whether it’s cinnamon heart lips or fresh baked cookies, figure out what tickles their fancy and then surprise them with their favorite treat.
- Make a fuss over their accomplishments – big or small.
If they managed to make it to their early morning exercise class without collapsing, let them know that you think they’re a total rock star. If they finish writing that super big proposal for work, suggest you take them out for a celebratory drink. Celebrating the small stuff is not only fun, it makes the other person feel special in the process.
- Make them a mixed tape.
If last time you hung out you had an in depth conversation about music and they mentioned they still haven’t picked up the new Childish Gambino album yet, pop it on a zip drive so you can give it to them next time you see each other.
- Remind them of their best qualities.
Tell them how you feel. If you think it’s awesome that they volunteer their time for causes they are passionate about – let them know. Are they one of the most hilarious people you’ve ever met? Make sure they know that. Do you find it irresistibly adorable the way they never eat the crust on their pizza? Be sure to remind them.
- Get them a very small gift.
Whether it’s a flower that you picked on your way to your date or a tiny trinket from the dollar store that reminded you of something you had talked about the night before, this is a case where the thought really counts.
- Make them laugh with an inside joke.
Send them a hilarious GIF that only they’d get. Pick up a small trinket that plays into something you were joking about on your last date. Anything you can do to make them laugh and show that you appreciate their sense of humor is great.
- Surprise them with flowers or a plant.
Whether it’s a single sunflower or a tiny succulent plant, you don’t have to go big to make a huge impact when it comes to foliage. I once swooned when the man I was dating brought me a tiny, pink flowering cactus (true story).
However, if you’re going to give it’s important that you do it for the right reasons – and not just because you’re hoping to get something in return from the other person. “As soon as you couch it with, ‘I’m going to be compassionate today because I expect you to be compassionate tomorrow,’ it destroys the effect,” said Reis. Give to give and feel your happiness swell.