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Is Your Affirmational Love Enough?


Mini-Love-Lesson # 275

Synopsis:  The importance of stating and demonstrating love by way of affirmational behaviors; a three-step process for doing affirmational love; the importance of being real; 11 hints for talking affirmationally to your loved ones; and a surprisingly numerical answer to the question “how much affirmational love is enough?” are all quickly called to your attention in this valuable mini -love-lesson.

Affirmational love charges our batteries.  It is crucial for high functioning, long-lasting relationships.  Research shows couples who utilize best practices of affirmation typically stay together happily.

It also is known to strengthen love bonds.  If affirmational love is bestowed and well received, often it results in a loved one’s increased self-confidence and subsequent accomplishments.  

Affirmation is a beautiful tool to aid the cycling of love.  When we feel appreciation, it can lead to doing affirmational loving.  When affirmations are absorbed, often there is an impetus to send back an affirming response.  An affirmation is like a stamp of approval which recognizes attributes and honors them (see “Communicating Better with Love: Mini Lessons”).

Three Steps To Affirmational Love

Affirmational love just takes three simple steps.  First notice, second appreciate and third affirm.  First we notice something positive or likeable in a loved one.  These can be characteristics or behaviors that catch our attention or something we discover when purposefully looking for qualities that we genuinely appreciate.  Next we delight in this aspect of our loved one and appreciate how it is an intrinsic part of their being.  Then, that motivates us to share our appreciation in affirmational words or actions. 

Sometimes these three steps are quick and rather automatic, at other times they may be more complicated.  If what we see and appreciate is of deep significance or major importance, finding the right words or deeds to carry our affirmational love may take more time and effort.  Remember that affirmational love is one of the crucial ways to communicate our love and enhance our relationships for quality and longevity, so, it is well worth whatever time and effort we put into it.

Here is a little example.  Suppose you notice one of the people you love being kind to a child.  You pause for a short time, quietly appreciating their kindness.  Then with tender tones you say, “Watching how kind you were to that child, really touched my heart”.  You accompany those heartfelt words with a gentle hug.  By doing these simple things, you probably have helped yourself and your loved one feel good.  Incidentally, you probably have reinforced their tendency to be kind.

It also is likely they will want to be with you just a bit more.  With this positive affirmation, they may feel stronger and their self-image may get a boost.   Your heartfelt connection with your loved one likely has been nourished and bolstered.  Another boon is that you and your loved one probably will function, psycho-biologically, more healthfully – at least a tiny bit.  Had you just noticed and appreciated but not done the affirmation, you would have benefitted but your loved one would not have known of your appreciation, nor benefitted from your affirmation.  Relationships also benefit significantly when affirmational love is performed often and well.

Being Real

Affirmation rests on authenticity and sincerity.   If our affirmations are perceived as credible and realistic they will encourage trust in us and what we are asserting.  If our affirmations are perceived as genuine, they can be relied on, whether or not the recipient perceives in themselves the affirmed quality.  

When affirmations are seen as false, fake or unrealistic, they get discounted.  The person making a phony affirmation loses credibility and may be judged as untrustworthy.  Even if the motivation is to improve or advance a relationship, making false affirmations is like building a relationship on feet of clay -  it likely will topple in the first storm.  Link “Talking Styles That Hurt and Help Love

Positive affirmational love can encourage hope, especially when someone is facing a difficult challenge.  It sends the messages, “you’re not alone”, “I’ve got your back” or “you can do it”.  Be careful not to overstate your affirmation because the affirmation is to help a person find strength in themselves.  Plus, if it is not seen as plausible, it will do little or no good.    Heartfelt affirmations ring true.

Hints for Talking Affirmationally

1. Avoid lingering in the past tense, instead affirm mostly in the present and future tense.   

2. Avoid negative words like no, never, don’t, won’t, can’t and not.  

3. Avoid negative implication words and phrases like lose, quit, stop, get rid of, get away from.  

4. Avoid words that focus on or imply an absence like saying “I  want”, “I wish”, “I would like” – these can suggest that a person  lacks something.

5. Avoid drawing attention to a problem more than to a solution.  

6. Be careful with comparison words like more, greater, less, better, and worse.

7. Be careful with ambiguous words, specific words work better.

8. Use positive emotion words.

9. If possible, be pithy with brevity.

  10. Use plausible phrases and positive words.

  11. Be personal.  Use the words “I”, “I am”, “You”, “You are”, “We are” and avoid the           impersonal.

How Much Affirmational Love Is Enough?

There is a host of research pointing to 5 love-positive communications to every 1 love-negative communication being optimal for keeping a spousal or heartmate love relationship well functioning (See the book, Principia Amoris: The New Science of Love by Dr. John Gottman).  Others think a 3 to1 ratio may do well enough, especially in demanding situations.  Then there are those whose studies suggest first it would be good to include evaluating the neutral communications, along with the positive and negative, before making a comparison.  There is, it seems, some evidence which suggests that more than 5 neutral to 1 positive may cause an erosion effect on a love relationship.

A question has arisen about whether a neutral message actually is a minor negative when it comes to love?  One elaboration of the 5 to 1 rule suggests both positive and negative communications must first be evaluated as to their strengths i.e. mild, moderate or strong, before comparing them.  It may be 3 mild communications equal 1 moderate, and 2 moderates make 1 strong communication, or something like that.  As you can see it can get rather complicated.

Generally the 5 to1 rule seems backed up by the most research.  7 or more positives to 1 negative may start to be too much and indicate relational devaluation of positives might occur.  If there are an equal number of negatives and positives, or if negatives outnumber the positives, that suggests that dysfunction and approaching breakup of a relationship is getting more likely.

So, now we suggest you ask yourself this question.  Do your love-positive outputs to your loved ones (praises, compliments, smiles, hugs, kisses, squeezes and so forth) outnumber your negative outputs (criticisms, scowls, gripes, growls, putdowns, complaints and the like) at the, more or less, 5 to 1 ratio?

Deeply and sincerely affirming the worth, importance and nature of those you love, definitely is a best practice of love.  Frequently sending affirmational statements and actions greatly advances the vitality and quality of love relationships.  In our experience, learning and using affirmational love nurtures and inspirits love connections.

One more little thing: are you going to talk over the ideas you have just read with someone.  If you do, it probably will enrich your to do so, at least a bit.  If you do that, please mention where they came from at this website and, thereby, spread some love knowledge around.  Thank you.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Did you grow up with enough loving affirmation of your being and doings, at whatever the amount, and what effect did it have on you?

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