The Romantics have a song, “What I Like About You.” Love Language #4 is Words of Affirmation: Hearing someone say what they like about me is music to the ears. If your face lights up when someone gives you a compliment or your chest puffs out when you get acknowledged for something you did, your Love Language might be Words of Affirmation.
For people who are Words of Affirmation, their motto is: “I need to HEAR it.” The spectrum is wide for Words of Affirmation, from the insecure to overachiever to know-it-all types. I have seen women bait friends into a compliment by saying, “I’m so ugly.” The friend’s response is, “No you’re not. You’re pretty!” –“Really? You think so.” I have seen classic over-achievers go for super-extra credit because they want to be THE BEST in the class. I have seen arguments at social gatherings because someone insists, no, demands, that they are right. They will even bust out Google to look it up and prove their rightness to everyone in the room. I know of artists/musicians/authors that are so sensitive to words that they will agonize over a bad review and read it so often they can recite it.
Complaints are a cry for love in a very screechy voice. When I listen to a wife complain, “you never say how pretty I am anymore,” it is a clue she might be words of affirmation. When I hear a husband complain, “all I want is a little appreciation around here,” it is a clue that he might be Words of Affirmation.
Lovers of words can also be pierced to their core by a thoughtless comment. When a squabble turns into a character assassination of criticism, that is the warning sign feelings got hurt. The worst thing to do is be seduced into a diatribe of meanness….which will be recited back verbatim to you at a future date.
My husband’s third love language is Words of Affirmation. I found a secret to inspire him to do Acts of Service for me (my love language #3)…I thank him. For every dog poop scoop I don’t have to do, I say thank you. Every time he opens my door, I say thank you. Every time we go on date-nights, I thank him for spending time with me. I give him sincere and thoughtful compliments about his character when I see it show up in everyday life. I don’t expect or demand, I praise. I get my husband to dump the trash by thanking him in ADVANCE because I trust that he will do it when he is ready.
I don’t have a high need for Words of Affirmation. My husband needs it more than I do. This means I will become fluent in this love language. One relationship ritual that we do is Month-versaries (quality time). I gave up Valentine’s day to have monthly celebrations of our relationship instead. I romance him with a monthly greeting card that shows up in unexpected places in our home as a surprise. I write about things we did over the month or what I appreciate most about him at that moment. Over our six-year relationship, that is a lot of greeting cards! My husband is nostalgic and loves being able to go back to read sweet notes again and again.
One area that I’m aware of is snarky or sarcastic comments that leak out in a complaint. I remind my husband that whining about something doesn’t help me solve the problem that is bothering him. I have to be careful not to be snarky back. I ask that he make a request for what it is that he would like from me. A gentle request elicits a softer response.
Clues your Love Language might be Words of Affirmation:
- When you fight, you say mean things to hurt the other person’s feelings.
- Criticism is like a knife to the heart.
- You are insecure and need constant reassurance. You solicit compliments.
- You are a classic overachiever. You “wow!” people into a natural compliment. You were an A++ student.
- You write long letters or leave long voice mails. You find the perfect greeting cards.
- You are generous with your compliments.
- You are a perfectionist because you want to avoid criticism.
- You save every text, email, or letter that says something nice, so you can savor it again and again.
If one of my friend’s is Words of Affirmation, I make a special effort to write something on Facebook (or in a card) for their birthday of why I am so thankful for them in my life and their friendship. The Romantics had a good theme song that reminds us to share with our loved ones, “what I like about you…”
Reflect & Share: What is the best compliment you got that moved you?
Challenge: If you think a loved one’s love language is Words of Affirmation, tell them “What I appreciate about you….” and share something authentic you really value about them. Watch how they respond.
Find out your Love Language here.