How to Use Words of Affirmation in Your Relationship

If this is your partner's love language, spoken or written words show you care

How to speak words of affirmation

Verywell / Jiaqi Zhou

Actions speak louder than words—unless, of course, your partner's love language is "words of affirmation." In this case, words are everything. Whether they are written or spoken, a person whose primary love language is words of affirmation will place a lot of importance on what you have to say to them.

Your words will speak volumes to them, even when you want them to just let things slide. In fact, it's not uncommon for simple phrases like "I'm thankful for..." and "I love how you..." will go a long way in communicating how much they are appreciated.

Your partner will especially appreciate compliments, heartfelt thank-you's, handwritten notes, and hearing what they mean to others. The goal is to let your partner know how much they mean to you and how much you care.

What Are Words of Affirmation?

When it comes to Gary Chapman's five love languages, words of affirmation is the most common love language, edging out quality time and acts of service. It also is the only love language that revolves around verbal expression.

Words of affirmation are words that communicate your love, appreciation, and respect for another person. They're positive words and phrases used to uplift someone. What's more, these compliments and words of encouragement don't have to be said directly to the person. A simple hand-written note is appreciated just as much as a personal phone call.

People who give and receive love through words of affirmation tend to be the people who notice and care about the details of other people's lives. For instance, they may be the first to notice their partner's new haircut. They also remember to ask the neighbor how their sick dog is doing. They may even remember to ask the cashier at the local supermarket if they are feeling any better.

Those whose primary love language is words of affirmation are often sensitive and aware of their surroundings. They are the encouragers who know just what to say to make others feel better. And, they are hoping you can do the same for them.

Examples of Words of Affirmation

Here are a few examples of words of affirmation:

  • "Everything is better when you're here."
  • "I appreciate it when you..."
  • "I couldn't do this without you."
  • "I really love the new outfit. It looks great on you!"
  • "I'm so lucky to be with you."
  • "I’m so thankful to have you in my life."
  • "It impressed me when you..."
  • "Thank you for..."
  • "You are doing such a great job. I’m really proud of you."
  • "You are one of my favorite people to be around."
  • "You are so special to me."
  • "You are the best."
  • "Your support means so much to me."
  • "You’re an inspiration!"

Words of affirmation can also be important in other types of interpersonal relationships. For example, you might use different types of positive affirmations to show kindness and gratitude toward your family members, friends, boss, or co-workers.

Benefits of Words of Affirmation

Are using words of affirmation effective? For a person who tends to place a great deal of importance on what their partner says, hearing words of affirmation can help them to feel valued, satisfied, and happier in a relationship.

By using words of affirmation in your relationship, you are strengthening communication between you and your partner. You are showing your partner that you notice and appreciate them. When your partner feels appreciated, they are likely to experience a deeper satisfaction with themselves and with the relationship.

Offering words of affirmation can help nurture emotional intimacy, which plays a crucial role in relationships.

Receiving words of affirmation can help someone feel a greater sense of self-worth and motivation as well. If you notice your partner is making an extra effort on a special project or on their appearance, you might offer them an encouraging word or some praise. They will likely feel a boost in spirit and appreciate you for noticing.

Offering your partner an encouraging word can have a positive impact on you, too. Studies link giving compliments with a greater sense of well-being.

Recap

Words of affirmation can be an effective way to improve communication, express appreciation, deep intimacy, and increase self-esteem.

How to Ask for More Words of Affirmation

If your love language is words of affirmation, it feels amazing when your partner delivers a positive or loving message. You might be wondering how to get them to use your love language more often.

When your partner offers words of affirmation, let them know that their words make you feel good. Try saying, "I love when you tell me what a great job I'm doing," or "It makes me feel so good to hear you say that." When you respond with gratitude, your partner will likely be encouraged to continue offering you words of affirmation.

You might even introduce your partner to the love languages if they aren't already familiar. Maybe you and your partner sit down to discuss each other's preferred language.

You can make learning about the love languages a fun and intimate way to initiate a conversation about what feels good for both of you.

It's also helpful to be familiar with your partner's love language, especially if it's different from your own. They might not always deliver words of affirmation when you want them to, but that's OK. Try noticing and appreciating it if they offer you another sign of their love (maybe in their own love language).

Tips for Using Words of Affirmation

A sweet note laying in the middle of the kitchen counter; a post-it placed in the middle of the mirror; or a favorite poem verse tucked into a suitcase—these examples are just a few of the many different options that might speak to a person whose primary love language is words of affirmation.

If your partner's primary love language is words of affirmation, you will need to find ways to communicate how much they mean to you. Here are some tips on how to speak this love language to your partner.

Be Authentic

People who have words of affirmation as their primary love language have a nose for false platitudes, so be sure you are authentic when talking with them. You want to be sure what you're saying to them is coming from the heart, because if you are making stuff up, they will be able to tell.

Be Empathetic

When it comes to words of affirmation, it is crucial that partners realize that you recognize how they are feeling, especially if they are feeling down. Show empathy for your partner. Think about what it would be like to walk in their shoes and then demonstrate that you know how they are feeling.

Show Your Appreciation

Usually, people who feel fulfilled by positive words and comments will thrive when people recognize and appreciate what they do. Whether it is how they do the laundry, the meal they cooked for dinner, or the fact that they spent three hours proofing your report, the key is to tell them in no uncertain terms how much you appreciate them.

If you are specific about what you really liked, it will warm their heart and fill their tank. So, don't hold back.

Say 'I Love You' A Lot

People whose primary love language is words of affirmation never get tired of hearing "I love you" from the people they care about. While it's common to feel like the phrase is overused, a words of affirmation person will never get tired of hearing you say it, especially when you find new and creative ways to communicate your love.

Mail Them a Letter

While email is a great way to communicate when you're in a hurry, there is something special about receiving a love letter in the mail. So, get out a pencil and paper and start writing. Your partner will be so surprised to receive the letter from you. If a letter seems overwhelming, buy them a cute card and write a nice note inside.

Post a Note

Sometimes the best and most efficient way to communicate how much you love your partner is to use a sticky note and leave them a little message about how much they mean to you. If you want to get really creative, you could post a number of notes in the shape of a heart or another figure on the bathroom mirror or the window of their car.

Give Them a Shout Out

Make sure you compliment your words of affirmation partner in front of other people. Tell them what makes you proud and what you really appreciate. Don't go overboard and embarrass your partner, but telling others how awesome you think your partner is will touch their heart in so many ways. So, don't be stingy with the compliments. This is a great way to fill your partner's love tank.

Point Out Their Strengths

Pointing out your partner's strengths is especially important when they are feeling down or discouraged. Giving them a pep talk and pointing out what you really like about them or what they do well speaks volumes. They need to know that you see value in who they are.

Dial It Up

When your partner is going through a tough time, it can be helpful for you to dial up the nice words. Be extra kind and loving while reminding your partner why they are important and what they mean to you. At all times, it is helpful to offer words of encouragement. These steps show them that you are there for them even in the rough patches of their life.

Recap

When you utilize words of affirmation, focus on being authentic, appreciative, and empathetic. Let your partner know how much you care, and don't be afraid to put your feelings into writing, whether it's a letter, note, or social media post.

How to Make Words of Affirmation a Habit

Even if you are not a words of affirmation person, it is a good idea to make words of affirmation a daily habit. While it might not come naturally, there are things you can do to make offering words of affirmation a habit:

  • Try a pet name: Perhaps you can begin each conversation with the pet name you have your partner. For example, you could say, "Good morning, beautiful" or "How are you, sweet pea?" These terms of endearment may sound corny, but for a words of affirmation person, they can be special.
  • Be yourself: Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or say things that you don't feel. Just give yourself permission to be your authentic self and share what you appreciate about your partner.
  • Offer encouragement: Words of affirmation don't just have to be expressions of gratitude or compliments—they can also focus on words that encourage your partner. When they express interest in something or share one of their goals with you, let them know that you believe in them and support them.

Tip: Create a List

If you find sharing words of affirmation difficult, listen for affirming words and keep lists of them. This exercise will help you build a bank of kind words you can share with your partner. This exercise is especially useful for people that feel like they don't have a large enough vocabulary to come up with something new and creative each time.

What to Avoid

Because people with this love language find words to be extremely powerful, they also are highly sensitive to negative comments and criticisms. In fact, one harsh word can send people in the words of affirmation camp reeling.

For this reason, people whose primary love language is words of affirmation are often extremely wounded and hurt by gaslighting, narcissism, and emotional abuse. Negative words, accusations, and criticisms are like daggers to their heart.

Here are some other things to avoid doing if your partner's primary love language is words of affirmation:

  • Don't assume there is a perfect quote for every one of life's situations.
  • Don't be mean or hurtful with your words; they take them to heart.
  • Don't be overly critical or condescending; they interpret this as saying they are dumb or stupid.
  • Don't make fun of them or tease them too intensely; they are sensitive.
  • Don't try to manipulate them with words or hit below the belt.
  • Don't try to take shortcuts in expressing love to them; they can tell when you're faking it.
  • Don't withhold kind words as a punishment.

A Word From Verywell

Being loved and appreciated in a way that you understand is important in any relationship. People whose love language is words of affirmation like to hear that you love them, appreciate them, and will be there for them.

While the love languages can be a helpful tool for relationships, it's OK if you and your partner seek additional support—especially if you are feeling unloved or unappreciated. You might consider attending relationship counseling to strengthen the bond you have with each other.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The 5 Love Languages. How do you give & receive love?.

  2. Monin JK, Poulin MJ, Brown SL, Langa KM. Spouses' daily feelings of appreciation and self-reported well-beingHealth Psychol. 2017;36(12):1135-1139. doi:10.1037/hea0000527

  3. Boothby EJ, Bohns VK. Why a simple act of kindness is not as simple as it seems: Underestimating the positive impact of our compliments on othersPers Soc Psychol Bull. 2021;47(5):826-840. doi:10.1177/0146167220949003

Additional Reading

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon is a published author and a bullying prevention expert.