It may be cliched, seeing as I’m a writer, but there’s no quicker way to my heart than saying the right words.
Seriously. If you say things that are sweet enough, you go directly to my heart. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
Yes, I’m the poster child for words of affirmation. Both giving and receiving them.
Given this — and the fact that I’m very in love with my long-term partner Justin — most folks would assume he is eloquent and effusive with verbal praise. But actually words of affirmation is his rock-bottom worst love language. (He’s an acts of service guy. Here’s a post I wrote on ways we bridge the gap.)
Has this been frustrating sometimes? You betcha. But it hasn’t been all downsides. I wrote this piece about why I’m glad we didn’t have the same love languages.
And today I’d like to talk about something else: What happened when I dated other people who were also big on words of affirmation.
I’ve Been Coming to Terms with What Happened When I Dated Other People Who Were Also Big on Words of Affirmation
So what happened? Obviously when I dated other people who were also big words of affirmation, I had the time of my life, yeah? It was amazing? Went off without a hitch?
Well, not exactly. Now, it was good for a while. It really did rock my world to have INSTANT EXCELLENT COMPLIMENTS flowing readily. Produced a euphoric feeling. I felt positively exalted.
I felt treasured. Adored. And yes, incredibly loved.
But that feeling didn’t last. As it turned out, not only were these folks not right for me (something I missed because I was so easily blinded by the beautiful words), but they all had… uhhh… major honesty problems.
Yes, we’ll call it that.
I discovered over and over again that they were lying to me about miscellaneous things — both small and large. Which was not only hurtful for obvious reasons. But it also cast doubt on everything positive they’d said to me. Were the compliments, too, just pretty-sounding lies?
It’s a sobering thought for someone who craves words of affirmation: Those who give them most readily likely aren’t doing so truthfully.
It Also Made Me Deeply Concerned About Myself. Was I Deeply Dishonest?
This discovery was also troubling because I’m that friend who gives great compliments. Did this tendency make me part of that same crew? Was I a deeply dishonest person?
What did this say about me?
At that point, I went and talked the issue over with a couple of close and clever friends.
I half-expected them to launch into one of those talks that start out like so: “Well, I didn’t know how to say it to you before, but since you brought it up…”
But no. Instead, they told me that people who can give great compliments that are also genuine are indeed rare. And that, yes, it’s true that there are far more who will just say whatever sounds good to butter other people up.
But — and this was the part that caused me to exhale a long sigh of relief — they said I’m not one of those people.
Neither of these confidants consider themselves eloquent. But I have to say that’s probably one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever personally received.
Being Loved and Feeling Loved Are Different
As always, being loved and feeling loved are different.
Someone can make you feel adored and not really care about you much.
Conversely, someone can adore you but have a hard time showing you in a way that hits home.
Me? I’m currently in an incredible long-term relationship with someone who has words of affirmation as their dead-last love language.
I don’t know that I would have ever chosen that. But I can say it’s been an incredible growth experience for me. I’ve had to trust on a different level.
And I also trust that he means every word he says to me — even if he has a hard time sometimes finding them.