I know that life can often feel straight out of a cheesy rom-com from the Noughties at the best of times, so it’s really difficult to just speak the humble, honest truth sometimes. When the media suggests that love is all about big gestures and public performances, the value of words of affirmation often gets lost. Here are a few ways to integrate them into your relationship and some examples to get that spark back in the relationship.
- Stick with honesty. Not that you don’t love every part of your partner, but the first rule is the simplest: be honest, even (and especially) if it’s unexpected. If you love someone’s forearms or hands, collarbones, or you find their ear really cute, tell them! Don’t get bogged down by what you think you should say or what they might want to hear, just speak your truth.
- Write the affirmations down. Try post-its! Leave them dotted around your apartment so that he has new and fun surprises. They can be small and mundane, like leaving one by the casserole dishes in the kitchen and saying how good he is at cooking. Or, you can go big and leave little “I love you”s lying around so that he can see and believe the physical evidence. It’s cheap, it’s creative, and you will realize all the ways that you’re head over heels for him.
- Compliment him often! Make the words of affirmations regular and a natural part of your communication. They shouldn’t just be deployed or weaponized when you want something, or to mitigate his frustration when you’ve done something wrong. They should be freely given and lovingly earnest. It will help your partner believe these affirmations because it feels less performative.
- Mix things up. Don’t get so fixed in a routine of affirmations that it becomes a chore. Experiment with what you say. It can be serious or jokey. Or, it can recall a specific memory. You can talk about the last time he wore a certain pair of shoes or wore his hair pushed back while you compliment him in the present.
- Use physical gestures too. Don’t get me wrong, big public attention-demanding moves are a no-go because they’re not really about the person involved. That said, do bring home a tin of their favorite soup when he’s ill. Or, replace the peanut butter jar when you see it in the recycling. These gestures are simple but they will convey your love language. Your partner will know for sure that you love him without having to doubt a huge public display.
- Avoid just complimenting their appearance. At least don’t make all the words of affirmation about his physical body. This might be coming from a place of genuine admiration, but it could also add unintended pressure. Too great a focus could suggest to him that you are only interested in his body, which isn’t true. By talking about how you love his birthmark, for example, it could be misinterpreted. You can love so many aspects of a person outside of their body, but if you feel compelled to reassure him that you’re attracted to him, focus on less conventional compliments. Talk about the way he moves, or his eyes even, but never mention anything that he can’t change in five minutes either way.
- Think about the wording. Another tip to add nuance and personality to your words of affirmation is to center the person within the compliment rather than making them an object of them. For example, avoid “you look nice/handsome.” Instead say, “You look really confident in that outfit,” or “I can tell you’re feeling yourself today, and I find it so attractive.” Compliment him in a way that highlights both the way he makes you feel, but also the way you see him.
- Give personality-based compliments. Similarly, using these words of affirmation you can show your person how well you know him. Tell him that you find his acts of kindness and unthinking generosity so valuable. Always communicate when you’re feeling loved and appreciative of their attention and love. It goes a long way, a whole lot longer than physical compliments. These affirmations really help to remind you and your partner what you’re worth.
- Compliment their habits and hobbies. Engaging with and affirming your partner’s hobbies and interests is so important. Not only is it sexy for a person to have passion and skillset, but it affirms for your partner that his possibly unconventional hobby is seen and valued. It’s such a simple way to show your boyfriend that you appreciate him. So many times flippant comments or dismissive gestures can cause people to hide parts of themselves. Be better than that.
If in doubt, just think about what you would like to be told about yourself. Ask yourself: what would you love to be told about how other people see you? Go from there and you can’t go wrong.