I really like the 5 Love Languages which is a book that talks about how we all wish to receive love in different ways (words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch) and that is the way that we are also most likely to show our love. The problem is when you and your partner don’t have the same primary love language and you’re doing all of these things for them in your favorite love language and you don’t feel appreciated because they still don’t seem fulfilled. For example you could be making them breakfast everyday, taking out the trash, running errands for them and they’re still complaining that you never want to spend time with them. You think you’re showing your love doing all of these acts of service, but what this person really craves is for you to be spending quality time with them.
One love language that’s hard for some people to learn is Words of Affirmation. It’s easy enough to compliment someone with a “you look nice”, but if they are constantly flooding you with compliments and you’re not used to saying so many yourself it can feel uncomfortable when there’s that pause after they finish and it’s your turn and you just say “…thanks…” This is especially true if you grew up with a family that didn’t constantly give Words of Affirmation so you feel lost as to what this person wants you to say and very awkward and forced when trying to do it yourself. I think that giving compliments or words of affirmation is a muscle that you can strengthen through practice. Yes it will feel a bit forced at the beginning, but the “forced” part should be saying how you truly feel so it should not feel fake or inauthentic just a little uncomfortable as you get used to something new. Even I don’t always feel comfortable saying how I feel so I understand your pain.
Here are some examples on how to mix it up in the compliments department:
- Instead of “you’re beautiful” try some different adjectives- gorgeous, stunning, handsome, amazing, incredible, hot, sexy, etc. Use “cute” sparingly when talking about a girl. “Cute” is a word that describes a puppy or a baby, not an incredibly attractive full grown woman. Do not only give compliments on someone’s outward appearance! It makes you look shallow and like you only care about that one part of them. If you can’t think of anything beyond their looks that you want to compliment you should NOT be dating them. You do, however, have to at least occasionally give them compliments on the way they look to let them know you’re attracted to them. Yes other parts of their personality or things that they do might attract you to them, but at the end of the day everyone wants to feel attractive and sexually desired by their partner which includes being physically attracted to them. They not only want to feel attractive, but ideally I think people want to feel like they are the most attractive and that’s why their partner picked them so try to make your words convey that message. “You’re pretty” is not the same as “you’re so incredibly gorgeous I feel lucky to be with you”. Also it’s good to mix in there “I want you”. As long as you’re rounding it out with compliments about their brain, heart, talents, and achievements it’s really hard to go overboard in this category. If you’re a straight guy and the girl you’re dating complains you don’t compliment her enough try to say one out loud every time you think “she looks good” or if you’re still struggling to remember try saying it immediately after “hi” when you see them.
- Instead of “you’re smart” try- I love the way your mind works; you’re so awesome at solving problems like this; you’re so smart you know how to do everything; whenever I have a (insert topic here i.e. history) question you always know the answer.
- Instead of “you’re funny” try- you crack me up; you have the best sense of humor; you’re the funniest person I know; you always know how to make me laugh; you’re so witty and quick; you’re amazing at comebacks.
- Instead of “I like you” try adding on the why part. While this is a nice thing to hear someone say out loud at the beginning of a relationship, as time goes on people want more details. For example, “I really like you because you’re so fun to be with, you’re always really supportive, and I love the way you are always going out of your way to do nice things for me” shows a little more introspection and critical thinking and can feel like a more meaningful compliment.
Do you ever struggle with this? Does your partner? Tell me what you think or what your tips are for giving (or maybe receiving) compliments in the comments!