All human beings want… no, NEED love. When we were children we hopefully received much love from our parents, who cared for and nurtured us. Now as adults, we still need it too. We get it from our intimate relationships, our friends, and ourselves. And one of the best ways to show someone you love them is to praise them.
Praise is simple: tell someone why you are attracted to them or why they are great as they are. At the surface level, this could be achievements: a degree, physique, an accomplishment. Moving deeper it could be traits: intelligence, caring, and a willingness to face fear. On the deepest levels it could be how they handle challenges, if they openly and readily discuss emotions, and if they have conquered their internal demons. As you move through any relationship, you find more and deeper things you can praise the person for, and should not be afraid to express them. More defences and walls come down exposing to the core who you are and who the other person is. If not, this is an issue in the relationship. But if so, you are hopefully free to express more and more.
A primary fear of many women is that men just want them for sex, for their body. It is quite common for women to complain about this and ask a guy to tell her why he likes her other than for her oral sex skills. And you know what, it’s perfectly justified and it’s the guy’s fault for not telling her why he appreciates her.
Unfortunately, there are many men in the world who do just use women for sex. It may be for validation or for an unspoken, hidden need, but they will lie and manipulate to get into bed with them. Then, they will either keep them around stringing them along or abandon them. The former case plays with the woman’s amygdala, the area of the brain that triggers primary abandonment fears (as it is where emotional memories are stored), and the woman does not want to leave the man who, while treating her poorly, gets the comfort and knowledge that someone wants her. Then, it’s how much the woman thinks of herself and what she values whether she will indeed leave the man to find someone who treats her well, or stay in the situation.
In my mind, there is nothing wrong with two adults who are aware of their needs and emotions and are not using each other to meet them, who mutually decide to have purely casual sex (the commonly known “friends with benefits” relationship). The importance of ensuring that they aren’t running from deeper abandonment issues is of course important, but doing this just for the sake of trying to move further into a relationship can only end poorly.
All this is to say that if a woman is confident in herself, does not need a man to gain validation about how amazing she is, and wants a deeper relationship than something that is solely based on casual sex, she will leave if the man does not value her for something other than the sex itself. The man needs to express what he values in her.
The concept of a man ensuring that he praises his woman is so important that David Deida dedicated a chapter to it in Way of the Superior Man. He wrote:
Men grow by challenge. As a boy, other boys would challenge you in order to inspire you: “I bet you can’t jump over that fence.” In a place like boot camp, you are told you are a worthless slimedog, and this kind of insult challenges you to be your best. So, as a man, you probably have a masculine habit of challenging people, including your woman, in order to get her to improve or grow. Only the masculine side of your woman will grow through challenge. The feminine side thrives on support and praise. Telling her, “I love the shape of your body,” will be much greater incentive for her to exercise than telling her, “I hope you don’t gain any more weight.”
Praising the things you really enjoy when she exercises will magnify her exercising. On the other hand, by telling her why she should exercise, you are indicating that she is not acceptable to you the way she is. Praise works. Information doesn’t. Praise motivates. Challenge doesn’t. Try it. Praise specific things you love about your woman 5-10 times a day. Find out what happens.
Women are not off the hook either. Make sure you tell your man that you love his body, how he helps with things around the house, his strength, confidence, intelligence… I ASSURE you while he gets validation from many places, he wants to hear it from you and loves hearing it. Also, be sure to mention about how much he turns you on in bed… To a man, nothing makes him happier than hearing how he makes his woman writhe in ecstasy.
From the past year of trials and challenges in life, I am now set in the opinion that your friends will make or break you. They are the foundation of your life, supporting you through issues, challenging you, and helping you in accomplishing your goals. And if they do so much for you, do you think it would be a good idea to TELL them how much they mean to you? Ask yourself, when was the last time you told your friend how much you care about them, appreciate what they do for you, or just think they are fucking awesome?
I personally felt this way over the holidays when thinking about things I was grateful for. I decided to buy each of my close friends a book about something they were interested in, and write them a letter telling them about what they’ve done for me that I remember, what I appreciate about them, and what I see for them in the future. I haven’t heard any complaints about receiving these things yet.
Every time your friend listens to you and helps you out of your “mind cage” (or being stuck in your head), thank them. When they push you through a fear or do something with you that you are scared of, tell them how much it means to you. Tell them how a certain characteristic of their’s is something you deeply respect and hope to have grow within yourself.
Show your love for your friends!
Without love for who we are, we can’t hope to spread love to others in abundance. If we love ourselves, meet and understand our needs, and know when we need a break… we accept, appreciate, and love who we are. This makes it SO much easier to praise others.
This may sound a little woo-woo, but really, it is quite important to ensure you love who you are. What are ways we can do this?
- Long day at work? No chores, no running around getting things done… Go home, and do something you love
- Do something you’re passionate about every fucking day
- Buy yourself something new, just because you’re awesome or have reached some goals. A new laptop, cell phone, clothes… whatever you want
Just be kind to yourself and be happy with who you are. The praise comes in with telling yourself you are amazing and can accomplish anything you put your mind to, by giving yourself breaks for working hard, buying nice things for yourself because you deserve it. So go be amazing, and then reward yourself.
For all these examples it’s clear to see that people love being praised, and will in turn love people who acknowledge their positive traits, especially if they aren’t aware of them. Everyone wants to be accepted and receive validation from others, no matter how “integrated” or “of only seeking their own approval” they may be. There is nothing wrong with doing this, it’s just when it becomes your entire life script and the main way you live that you have an issue.
Praising others is such as important concept that in the exceptional How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie notes this in a chapter entitled “How to Make People Like You Instantly”:
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated… [But] you don’t want to listen to cheap insincere flattery, but you do crave sincere appreciation… If we are so contemptibly selfish that we can’t radiate a little happiness and pass on a bit of honest appreciation without trying to get something out of the other person in return – if our souls are not bigger than sour crab apples, we shall meet with the failure we so richly deserve… Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Apply this everywhere.
Praise someone in a store for your help. If you come back you might get a discount.
Praise your boss for helping you advance your career and your direction, maybe it will bump you up on the promotion list.
Praise your tailor for their fine work and maybe you’ll get preferential treatment of your items.
Don’t you dare praise for trying to get something in return though, as Carnegie explains. People will see the ruse and never trust you.
Guess why you should do it?
Because you love telling people how awesome they are, you want them to know, and you know it makes them feel good. You’ll feel amazing doing it too.
This article is dedicated to and was inspired by Matt Spataro. Thank you for telling me that I’ve helped you grow as a person. You have no idea how much that means to me.