Nice Thing #1: "The way you handled that huge, hairy spider on the wall of the shower was hot."
This is also known as "the way you handled that insane toddler temper tantrum was hot" or "the way you handled that endless grocery list was hot." The most joy-inducing aspect of each of these examples is that you're not being cute or indulging in flattery in order to make your partner feel good. Completing these kinds of trying tasks do have a nugget of honest-to-God sexiness. Bravery, even in the face of bugs, is sexy. So is self-control and patience in the face of a furious child throwing blocks around his room. So is grit and determination in the face of 76 aisles of glittering food products and a cashier who won't take coupons. So your other half didn't save a kitten from a burning house this week. Recognizing his everyday acts of heroism makes those acts—and him—feel spectacularly unordinary, if not extraordinary.

Nice Thing #2: "You smell like the day I met you."
Scientific study after scientific study has proven that scent influences how human beings perceive possible mates. As Jesse Bering, a psychologist at Queen's University Belfast, puts it in his Scientific American roundup of pretty much all the research ever done on the subject, the "ambient odors" that are paired in our minds with any one particular person "can modulate our feelings of attraction toward them." Speaking from the laboratory of life, I think most of us remember exactly what our soul mates smelled like the first time we met them (mine: fresh laundry, hint of Golden Delicious) because no matter what the smell was, be it sweat, soap, daisies or dog, it smelled good. Over time, the hair on the object of your affections may grow thin, his girth expand. But helping him realize that he still smells like he's 25 is also a reminder that attraction springs eternal.

Next: What to say to connect in any moment


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