Affection.  A term often defined with the word “love” in the mix. That can be intimidating (and maybe a total turnoff) for newly divorced men who are opening themselves up to the idea of another relationship. Here’s the thing: if you’ve found someone you like and care for, it’s time to let her know, and affectionate gestures are just the ticket. Below are eight creative ideas for ways to show affection, without using the “L” word.

Every single, and spoken for, woman I’ve talked to has expressed the same sentiments about being shown affection: “yes, it matters” and “it’s the little things” (I couldn’t agree more!). That’s right! It’s all about the small gestures, and the more creative, the better. Extravagant trips overseas, with luxury hotels, car service, and five-star restaurants is not the expectation. What is expected is that a woman isn’t left wondering how she stands with regards to your level of interest in her.

Ways to Show Affection Without Spending a Dime

Maybe the divorce, and your new way of ‘doing life’ has resulted in a tight financial situation. Never fear! There are ways to show affection without any additional strain on your bank account. Honestly, some of these suggestions came from single women noted as the most memorable gestures they’ve ever experienced.

ONE:  A well-timed text message that indicates you’re thinking of her

Seems simple enough. You might even be wondering how this could even count as an affectionate gesture. The key is that the message is unexpected, and the intention is just to let her know you were thinking of her. Period.

A friend of mine was on a mission of personal growth, and part of that plan included a rigorous workout every morning that required her to be up at 4:00 am.  She started seeing a guy she felt an immediate connection with, and it was easy to lose track of time. One evening ran especially long, and she lamented over her early morning alarm as she said goodnight. She was floored when, early the next morning, her phone dinged with a message of encouragement from this guy. Not only was his message well timed and said all the right things BUT he had set his alarm to be up as early as she had to be, just so he could send this message. Despite the lack of sleep, she found extra pep in her step that lasted her the whole week through.

TWO: An offer to help with something around her house (or with her vehicle)

Women like to assert their independence, and many will learn to be a Jane of many trades (thank you, YouTube) to maintain that badge of honor. But just because a woman can function independently, doesn’t mean that she always wants to do everything on her own.

Keep your eyes and ears open for things that she might need help with. Maybe her garbage disposal needs to be swapped out, or the drain in her tub is draining slowly and needs attention. Maybe she’s mentioned her vehicle needs an oil change. Trust me, there’s a YouTube tutorial for all of it, and even if it takes her three hours, she’ll figure out a way to tackle the task. This is your opportunity to be her knight in shining armor, saving her the time, and effort on something that you might be able to address in half (or a quarter) of the time.

Show up on a Saturday morning to mow her lawn. If it snowed the night before, head over to shovel her walk and clear that mound of snow off her car. Seriously, gentlemen, the options are endless, and opportunities are present all the time. Jump at these chances to show her you care!

THREE: Leave her a note

In this day and age of technology, handwritten notes seem to be disappearing from our lives, but the value of continuing the trend has its perks. Handwritten notes take a smidge more effort, but having one show up in an unlikely place is the most wonderful surprise. Think of all the places an unexpected sticky note with a short message could appear! On the coffee maker, the windshield of her car, on her pillow, the bathroom mirror…again, the possibilities are endless!

FOUR: See something that reminds you of her? Send it her way!

The days of mixed tapes with music that reminds you of her have come and gone. Even the day of loading an iPod with that same idea in mind is close to having run its course. That doesn’t mean you can’t (and shouldn’t) pass forward things you come across that reminds you of her and your time together. Or even just something you think she would enjoy. A picture, article, podcast, meme, song…really, no idea is off the table with this one. If you see it and she pops into your mind, send it her way. She’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that she was on your mind AND that you made the effort to let her know.

FIVE: Open her car door

I’m not quite sure at what point in time this act of chivalry started dying but notice more and more that it has, sadly. Opening or holding, doors for people going in and out of businesses, restaurants, the movies, etc. is even a concept lost on some entirely. But hear me, gentlemen, opening doors, especially the car door is a ridiculously grand gesture that will win you loads of brownie points.

When my now-husband and I started dating several years back, I was immediately struck by the fact that he’s a door opener. All doors. Including those to vehicles. To this day, he continues to do so, and not just for me, for women in general. Almost nine years of door opening, for me, my mom, his mom, our grandmothers, and my girlfriends and I still take notice. Every. Single. Time. Others notice too and comment on the fact that he’s such a gentleman. It’s a simple act to get in the habit of, and it’s one of the most incredible ways to show affection.

Low Cost Ways to Show Affection 

SIX: Cook her a meal.

Men who possess the ability to cook are highly desirable. Put this skill on display and show her you care all at the same time. Earn bonus points by learning what her favorite wine (or drink) is and having that one hand with dinner as well!. If you find yourself in the category of men who don’t know how to cook, hang on a sec before you write this idea off entirely. If you can read and can follow directions I have news for you: you CAN cook! If you are feeling the need for inspiration and encouragement (as well as recipe ideas) the blog Have Her Over For Dinner: A Gentleman’s Guide to Classic, Simple Meals by Matt Moore is an awesome resource.

SEVEN: Stop by with a treat you know she enjoys.

Several of my single girlfriends have raved about this simple, sweet gesture. Whether she had a rough day at work, or a busy (and potentially exhausting) day ahead, having the man she’s seeing stop by her place with a little something special was the highlight of the day. The key here is that the intention is not to be invited in or having the plan to stay. If you confirm she’s at home, a ding and dash might be a route to consider. Ring the bell and take off, leaving the little something sweet for her to find on the front step with a short “thinking of you” note attached (and your name signed, obviously, because you should most definitely take credit for this one).

Need some ideas? A coffee or flavored iced tea whipped up by the barista down the street, her favorite ice cream or milkshake, a small bouquet of her favorite flowers, the newest edition of InTouch Weekly magazine (or whatever she enjoys reading). Figure out what she likes and capitalize on that knowledge!

EIGHT: Put together a care package

I wasn’t aware that men really understood this concept until I heard a story of a man who did just this very thing for a friend of mine. I might have thought it an urban legend had I not known the people involved personally.

If you’re now thinking “a care-what now?” Let me explain. The general premise is to gather a small assortment of items that compliment a situation. For example, if you know she will be flying out on a work-related trip to attend a conference or seminar, a care package might include a snack and magazine for the flight and a nice pen and small notebook for her to use at the conference. If she’s fallen ill, a care package might include a pair of fuzzy and comfortable socks, Chapstick, cough drops, and a funny movie. Maybe she’s had an overly rough week/month/quarter with work or other life circumstances? Care package to the rescue! A small bottle of scented lotion, gift card for a pedicure, facial mask and bottle of wine may be everything she could have wanted at that moment.

If you aren’t feeling confident in your creative abilities, rest assured that someone else is and can come to your rescue. Lotsa Blog has an article with care package suggestions as well as a list of online vendors that can do the heavy lifting for you. Read it here: 9 Care Package Ideas to Make Anyone’s Day Playing Game Won’t Get You There

The days of game playing with women you are interested in are over, fellas. Pulling a girl’s pigtails and pushing her down on the playground will earn you exactly zero points with the ladies. Of course, that example takes us back to our childhood, but the adult variety of game playing continues. Being or acting distant, attempting to spark some variety of jealousy, or any other game playing tactic is not the best game plan. Instead, consider being real, authentic and in some cases, vulnerable. Put showing affection into action. It is, after all, just showing another person that you care and are thinking about them. Even better, it can be accomplished with or without the “L” word.

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