Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, describes five different ways that couples in love can communicate their feelings to their partner. The first of these is Words of Affirmation.
Chapman writes, “Verbal compliments, or words of affirmation, are powerful communicators of love.”
In any relationship, it can be difficult to be sure that each partner is giving the kind of words of affirmation that their loved one can appreciate, in the way that they would most like to hear it. In a Neuro-Divergent relationship, challenges related to communication and theory of mind (ToM) can compound the issue.
For example, if a person is highly embarrassed to receive compliments, and finds it stressful to try to live up to that same expectation forever, then words intended to be affirming may actually increase stress rather than communicating love. Is this true for you? If so, share your feelings with your partner.
Then ask your partner what kind of words of affirmation they find most pleasing or supportive. Some people enjoy compliments about their physical beauty, while others would greatly prefer to be praised for their intelligence, talents, or other characteristics.
Whatever is true for the two of you, share with each other your favorite kinds of affirming words. If you are a person who has trouble remembering to compliment your loved one or to say “I love you,” and you have a partner who loves to be complimented and to hear those three little words, you can make them happy by stepping up your game. This may mean setting reminders in your phone to send a loving text or pay your partner a sincere compliment. Partners, if your loved one needs reminders to compliment you, please do not be offended. This does not mean that they love you any less. It means they care enough to want to remember to share their inner feelings with you rather than keeping their love for you to themselves. Don’t penalize them for putting plans in place to make sure they give you the words of affirmation that mean the most to you.
However you and your partner communicate your love, I wish you a loving and affirmative future.