Remember back to when you were first dating. How often did you compliment one another? Daily? Hourly? I am guessing that he would tell you that he liked that dress you wear, and in turn, you would comment on his beautiful eyes.
Compliments are one of the strongest communication tools we have at the beginning of the relationship to message to our potential partner that not only are we interested in them, we are attracted to them.
Yet add five years, and compliments move from daily to weekly, or heaven forbid, even monthly. And why? We all desire to be complimented and to be wanted. We want our partner to desire us and to appreciate us. But like everything, we get too tired, too busy, and too lazy to invest in the most important relationship we have.
What’s even more disturbing is that compliments are often that first communication tool (yet again) that is used and initiated when one partner begins an emotional affair. It may be a co-worker, an acquaintance, or even a stranger who uses the compliment to woo your loved one away.
You might be saying yourself “This shouldn’t be a problem for me as I compliment him enough!” My question to you is how often do you criticize? In numerous studies, it has been statistically proven that it takes up to 20 compliments to veto one criticism (Gottman, 1993; Notarius and Markman, 1993.)
Let’s see what that looks like:
- You look nice today
- Your hair smells great
- Good dinner
- Thank you, that meant a lot to me
- Good job
- Thank you for listening to me
- I appreciate you
- You are sexy
- You’re funny
- You push me to be a better person
And…you get the drift…
20 Compliments veto 1 criticism
So compliments are important to our self-esteem, self-worth, and the level of intimacy.
So how do you fix this? Well, you have already started. Just by being aware of how criticism impairs functioning relationships and how loving, and gentle words can rebuild it.