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"You never compliment me," he said—yet again. We were dating, spending a ton of time together, so why couldn’t he see that I felt just as happy with him as he felt with me? Why did he always need me to praise him?

Recently a friend introduced me to Dr. Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages, so I took the quiz, learned my own language, and made sure everyone I knew took the quiz, too—including my guy. Finally, his need for compliments made sense: My guy's love language is Words of Affirmation. Meaning, he feels most loved when I tell him, in detail, how wonderful he is.

As someone who feels awkward with verbally affirming others, I didn’t know what to do. For me, quality time is paramount. I soon realized, though, that my lack of affirmation toward him was actually the root cause of a lot of tension in our relationship. So I decided it was time to find ways to tell him he was awesome and loved.

I experimented—sent texts, wrote cards—and asked around for advice. Here’s what I’ve since learned WOA guys are dying to hear, not only from my own guy but also from many other men whose primary love language is Words of Affirmation.

01. A more creative “I love you.”

When your relationship becomes serious, the once powerful phrase "I love you" can become a little repetitive, even to a guy who loves hearing how much he is loved. I discovered that switching up the phrase keeps things fresh. Hearing, “I love you more than you know”; “I love how you take time to really focus on me when I’m stressed”; or even a cheesy, “I love you to the moon and back” can really enliven the sentiment. Plus adding these certain specifics also makes the declaration ring truer, and affirms that you’re not telling your guy you love him as a secondhand thought.

02. “You’re doing the right thing.”

For WOA guys, hearing verbal affirmation of a choice he has made helps him feel confident. Understanding that you support him makes him feel that you have his back. Whether it be a job change, a stressful familial decision, or quitting a bad habit, don’t let his decisions about his life go unnoticed. Telling him that he has your full support and that you respect and commend him for taking the reins of his own life, can make his heart sing. 

03. “I’m proud of you.”

Congratulating people after big achievements comes to most of us naturally. You give your niece a hug after a big performance, your brother a hearty high-five after a winning a basketball game, or maybe you send a card to a newlywed couple. But when you're caught up in the day to day, it can be easy to lose sight of the smaller, more intimate achievements. But these things are just as important—if not more so, because very few people have the privilege of witnessing these little victories. Even so, it can be hard to sometimes admit that you're proud of someone without feeling embarrassed or even vulnerable. Still—do it. To these guys, there’s no better feeling than having you acknowledge what they've been working on. He’ll be touched that someone integral to his life as you has even noticed.

04. Different ways to say “thank you.”

Just like telling your guy that you love him by mixing it up, try the same thing with “thank you.” Making your "thank you" as specific as possible can make him feel even more affirmed. For instance, saying, “Thank you for driving out of your way to pick up dinner tonight,” or “Thank you for raking the leaves when you got off work early,” will validate his already sweet action, large or small.

05. “I like being here with you.”

For me, saying these sorts of obvious statements can feel awkward. I mean, I'm here, right? Isn't it obvious that I like being here? Well, not necessarily—and not necessarily to your guy, either. Explicitly saying something like, “I’m happy to be here with you right now,” or “You really matter to me,” will make your WOA guy feel more affirmed than maybe even a kiss. In fact, having you announce that you would rather be with him than anyone else right now might actually make his entire day.

Of course, these aren't the only things you can say—these are just some of the more popular phrases that came up again and again as I polled different WOA men. Also, these words can be verbal, written, or even recorded. If you are embarrassed easily, try expressing these sorts of things via text, handwritten letter, email—or even a Snapchat. Whatever the medium, the language is the same.