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Show Him A Little More Sweetness

Your relationship needs a certain level of tenderness to survive. Boost your bond with these sweet moves, Cosmo-style.
It may not be something you lend a lot of thought to, but cultivating tenderness is key to a blissful, enduring twosome. “It’s a way for you and your man to smooth out the inevitable bumps that happen in any relationship,” explains Joan Elizabeth Lloyd, author of Naughty Secrets. We’re not talking about grandiose acts of amour. “Tenderness involves the gentle moments and gestures that say ‘I love you,’ often silently,” says Lloyd. “You have to consciously put up your radar to sense things you can improve in each other’s daily lives.”

To amp up the sweet side of your couplehood—without giving it gag-worthy sap—we’ve compiled this collection of compassionate tips for you to try with your guy. Not only will they help you feel more connected, but thanks to a domino effect, they’ll bring out his inner mushball, too.
  • Kiss him on the back of his neck as you walk behind his chair. “It’s touching that’s not sexually-driven but still says you care,’’ says Lloyd.

  • “Once in a while, place a cup of coffee, just the way he likes it, on the sink for him to find after his shower,” says Rebecca Fuller Ward, author of How to Stay Married Without Going Crazy.

  • “My boyfriend and I turn on the radio and slow dance around the living room. It’s a way to be physically close in a setting other than the bedroom.” - Sandra, 27

  • When he’s crazed, ask how you can help. “Offering your time and energy, which are rare commodities, shows him that you value his happiness,’’ says Mara Goodman Dacies, author of A Year of Romance.

  • “My girlfriend always asks me to zip her up when she's getting dressed, even if she can reach it herself. It’s a nice moment between us.” - Ben, 27

  • Speak more softly to each other. “Not speaking in your everyday voice that you use at work and with other people brings a kindness to your rapport,’’ says Lloyd.

  • Read to each other. “Being focused on the same thing creates a bond,” says Stan J. Katz, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Beverly Hills.

  • “Even though we have a dimmer in the dining area of our apartment, sometimes my boyfriend and I light candles while having dinner. It encourages romance and makes the night a little more special.” - Amanda, 31
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  • Thank him for the little things, like picking up your dry cleaning or washing your car. “Couples often forget that the common courtesies we extend to our friends also apply to our partners,” says Ward.

  • “When we’re out with friends, my girlfriend and I squeeze each other’s hands three times to say I love you. That way, no one is put off by our PDA.” - Pat, 26

  • Tie his necktie for him in the morning or straighten the collar of his shirt if it’s messed up. “It brings a sense of intimacy to a mundane task,” says Lloyd. “And afterward, you can use it to pull him in for a nice smooch!”

  • Ask him to tell you the story behind one of his framed photos,” suggests Michael Webb, author of The Romantic’s Guide. “By conjuring up a pleasant memory for him, he’ll be more likely to share very personal details of his life with you.”

  • “On really hot days, Henry will start the car and turn on the air-con before I get in, so that by the time I get in, it’s nice and chilly.” - Margaret, 32

  • Cook together. “When it’s done as a couple, it’s not a chore. It’s about two people creating something as a unit,” says Marilyn Graman, psychotherapist and coauthor of How to Be Cherished.

  • Towel each other off when you get out of the shower. “Unlike showering together, which is sexual in nature, helping him dry off is a comforting, helpful gesture that’s still very intimate,” says Katz.

  • Cup your partner’s face in your hands when you kiss him. It’s not something you can do when you’re kissing each other passionately, so it forces you to slow down your smooch, making your connection more intense,” says Davies.

  • “When my girlfriend hands me the newspaper in the morning, she has it opened to the editorial section because it’s the part I always read first. It’s a daily reminder of how well she knows me.” - John, 29

  • Sit on his lap. “You’re being flirtatious but also showing how comfortable you are with him,” says Katz. “Plus, it prompts him to put his arms around you.”

  • “My girlfriend once proposed a toast to me at home, over a dinner of instant pancit canton. Somehow, the fact that the dinner was so un-special made the moment much more so.” - Jack, 25

  • Tell him when you thought of him that day, like when you were shopping and saw something that reminded you of him. “It's a way of letting someone know that they’re always on your mind without getting too sentimental,” says Graman.
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