Men value appreciation. They want the gold star. They long for the medal, the trophy or the pat on the back. In other words, men need acknowledgment and recognition. I see this all the time in the countless men I work with in my therapy practice. They all want validation from their partner.
To them, a well-placed compliment is worth more than gold. But, after some time working as a therapist, I've realized that there is more to validating your guy then just saying words. There are specific things men need to hear and a few key ways to deliver that compliment so that a guy really feels how valuable it truly is. And when a man feels validated, he makes the woman he is with feel like a goddess.
01. Say Thank You
We all need appreciation and recognition, but I've noticed that men are wired for it—especially when it comes to their significant other. A sincere, “thank you” means more to men than flattery. It tells men that they are bringing value into the world and that they are making a positive difference.
I hear from a lot of men in my therapy practice that they feel unappreciated by their partner. They feel like they do so much but don’t get recognized for it. They think their partner sees them as not doing enough, and that furthermore their efforts are really not adequate.
Letting him know that you appreciate what he does will not just help him feel more confident, and will also make him more willing to do other things for you, to achieve more "thanks." So a simple thank you for doing a household chore, picking up the check, or a gesture of chivalry will let him know that you notice his efforts. Even if his action is not necessarily perfect, thanking him for the things that he does do for you goes a long way!
02. Tell Him How He Makes You Feel
Men want to know the influence they are having on others. They want to be effective and have their arrow hit the mark. So complimenting a guy on how he impacts you is perhaps the most meaningful way you can reach him deeply, it lets him know what kind of man you think he is. And what you think of him matters a lot.
The key is starting the compliment with the word “I” and then going from there. Saying, “I feel so relaxed around you,” or “I can’t stop laughing when I’m around you” lets him know that he is having a positive impact on you. This sort of compliment lets him know that he is reaching you and is making a positive impact on your life—which will only inspire him to continue making a positive impact.
03. Compliment Who He Is Instead of What He Does
While it can seem like men praise action above all, when it comes to romantic relationships, a man is going to want to feel that he is loved for who he is. Sometimes, the difference can be as simple as rearranging some words. For instance, you tell a guy that he is so great for helping your friend move, that may mean less to him overall than if you convey what a thoughtful and generous person he is. Telling a guy about his innate characteristics means more than pointing out what he does.
We are all wired for social connection. A great part of our sense of self comes from the feedback we get from others. Growing up we take major cues from our family to let us know what sort of person we are—but as we get older, we start taking these same cues from friends and romantic partners. When a woman compliments her boyfriend or husband on what sort of person he is, it has a surprising amount of power that can impact how he feels about himself. Telling him that he is a man of integrity, or that he is trustworthy, or such a loving person will have a far greater impact than commenting on a good deed.
04. Be Specific
A highly-specific, customized compliment packs a lot of punch. I hear from men in therapy all the time that they don't want to feel like just another guy. Yet in long-term relationships, we often take the other person for granted and stop expressing our appreciation—forgetting to remind them that they are special. When this happens, men often start looking to other resources for validation. In many examples, they can overly focus on trying to prove themselves at work and risk becoming workaholics. Or sometimes, they can turn to substance abuse or pornography and become addicted to the temporary high that it gives them. Or, they look to other relationships to start to try to feel special again.
In order to keep the love flowing in a relationship, try being specific in your compliments. Telling him that he is so funny in his own quirky way, or that you find him attractive because of some particular part of his physicality will keep the spark alive. Pointing out the unique ways that he expresses his wisdom, or how he is successful in ways that others are not, will have a far greater impact than expressing generic appreciation.
05. Quantity over Quality
Yep, you read that right. When it comes to compliments, the rare but perfect arrangement of words isn't necessarily the best route. Always err on the side of having way more nice things to say. Even if intended well, we all respond quite negatively to criticism and often remember the cut downs more than the praise (consider this 5:1 ratio). Hence, it is far more effective to spend lots of time building up your partner every chance you get.
After all, it's easy to find the negatives in other people—we all have flaws. So when it comes to the guy you love, try to make a habit of focusing on the positive. It might take some practice to cultivate a mindset that hones in on the good in your man, but you will end up happier in your relationship if you do.