Ask any madly in love couple the secret of their romantic success, and you’re likely to hear something like this:
“Josh makes me feel like a lady—I just feel so wonderful when I’m around him.” “Melanie has this incredible way of making me feel like the most important person in the world. When I’m with her, it’s as if I can do anything and be anyone.”
If you distill sentiments like these to their bare essentials, the passionate people are saying: “This lover of mine has a magical way of making me valuable, important, and treasured.” Aha—they have voiced a key to unlocking the vault of a person’s heart. The key can be explained like this: Our love for another person is strongly influenced by how that person makes us feel about ourselves.
Psychologists and relationship experts say the most potent motivation in life is to feel good about yourself—and you will love an individual most when he or she helps you to feel best about yourself. Simply put, thriving relationships consist of two people who bring out the best in each other.
To some people, this notion may have a whiff of “What’s in it for me?” As if the person is saying, “I love this person because she makes me feel loveable.” But there’s nothing selfish or egocentric about this principle. This doesn’t mean that one partner is shoring up the other person’s shaky self-esteem. It doesn’t mean one of them is “needy” and the other is meeting needs in an unhealthy way. Not at all. The idea here involves a lover bringing out all that is admirable and respectable in the other, highlighting and encouraging natural attributes.
You can employ all kinds of strategies to help your partner feel good about him- or herself when you’re together. Here just a few:
Identify strengths in your partner and praise them regularly. Watch carefully for the person’s positive qualities and don’t hold back in affirming them. Concerned about going overboard? Nonsense–nobody ever complained about being praised too much.
Tell the person the things you especially like about him or her. Be specific, identifying precisely what you appreciate and admire.
Resist the urge to criticize—and if you absolutely must, do so with much grace and gentleness. The fact is, nobody likes to have their faults and flaws pointed out. Unless something has become destructive to your partner or is causing a significant problem between the two of you, suppress the urge to say something negative. In all communication, tilt heavily in the direction of compliments over criticism.
Celebrate accomplishments and achievements, no matter how small or large. Did your love get a job promotion? Make a fancy dinner. Did she pass an exam? Go out for ice cream. Did he meet his quarterly sales quota? Send a note of congratulations.
Become your partner’s number-one cheerleader and supporter. Look for every opportunity to communicate, “I believe in you! I’m behind you all the way.”
If you are looking for a lasting and loving relationship, keep this principle front and center in your mind. When you help your partner feel great about himself or herself, the love will return to you tenfold.