Most writers who have received feedback on a story have probably been told, at least once if not more often, that they need to "show, don't tell." There are lots of explanations of what that means, but when I say it, what I mean when I talk about "showing" is using enough words to help your readers feel as if they were watching the scene, and what I mean when I talk about "telling" is summarizing things that aren't all that important, so the story can get to the important stuff. So when I say, "Show, don't tell," I am asking for more words about the important parts and fewer words about the stuff that connects the important parts.
But there are other times when we could apply this recommendation. How about when we're talking about being loving to one another? We can "tell" someone that we love them all day long, but if we don't "show" our love, they may not believe us. And if we pick the wrong way to "show" our love, that also isn't going to get the message across. (The meaning of the message is in what is received, not in what was sent.)
So in order to really "show" others that we love them, we need to find out how they feel loved. Some people feel loved when they receive gifts that are clearly selected with their interests and preferences in mind. Some people feel loved when someone does something for them without being asked. Some people feel loved when someone spends time with them, doing what they like to do. Some people feel loved through physical contact--hugs, kisses, just a simple touch, or more. Some people feel loved when someone takes the time to share their thoughts and feelings, even if it is "telling." Some people feel loved when someone just says "I love you," especially if they don't do it very often. Some people feel loved in more than one of these ways. Everyone feels loved when it is clear that thought and consideration has gone into the showing.
Most of us have heard of "the Golden Rule," but that rule can be confused with the one that says, "do unto others what you wish they would do for you so that you'll feel loved," which can actually be kind of selfish and manipulative. Giving someone flowers because that's what you wish they would give to you will not get you flowers, and may frustrate the other person who couldn't care less about getting flowers.
We all have our own way of feeling loved, and some call that our "love language." What is particularly frustrating is if someone loves you, but doesn't know what your love language is. And we can't fall back on the "if you really loved me, you'd know" argument because love doesn't make us telepathic.
So herewith is a plea not only for showing along with telling (being told you are loved can be very meaningful, but it needs showing to support it), but also for finding out how to show. If you don't know how those you love feel loved, and you can't figure it out (either from the crazy things they do for you that you don't really care about, or from the things that they get very excited about when you accidentally do them), sit down and talk to them. Ask them if you could do anything in the world for them, within reason, what would it be? And think about how their answer can give you clues to their "love language."
Then go forth and show, don't just tell. This world really does need more "love, sweet love."