How to Use Words of Affirmation in Your Relationship

young guy whispering to young girl


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 is 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 partners know how much they mean to you, how they are different from others, 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. Characteristics of this love language:

  • People with this as their primary love language feel fulfilled when others show their appreciation for them.
  • What's more, these compliments and words of encouragement do not have to be said directly to the person. A simple note or hand-written letter is appreciated just as much as a personal phone call.
  • They 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 she is 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.

Tips on How to Speak This Love Language

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 speak to a person with words of affirmation as their primary love language.

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. And if you are specific about what you really liked, this 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 many people often 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 still 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. And depending on what you write on the inside could be the beginning of something special. 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 post-it 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 post-it 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

This is especially important when your partner is 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 to them. 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.

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 will 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.

Create a List

If you find sharing words of affirmation difficult or if you feel like you do not have a large enough vocabulary, listen for affirming words and keep lists of them. This exercise will help you build a bank of kind words you can send to your partner. This exercise is especially useful for people that feel like they do not have a large enough vocabulary to come 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, narcissistic people, 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 try to take shortcuts in expressing love to them; they can tell when you're faking it.
  • Don't be mean or hurtful with your words; they take them to heart.
  • Don't make fun of them or tease them too intensely; they are sensitive.
  • Don't be overly critical or condescending; they interpret this as being dumb or stupid.
  • Don't withhold kind words as a punishment.
  • Don't try to manipulate them with words or hit below the belt.

A Word From Verywell

Being loved and appreciated in a way that you understand is important in any relationship. But, it is especially true for people with the love language words of affirmation. They need to know that you love them, appreciate them, and will be there for them no matter what.

When you find creative ways to share how you feel, you will be speaking directly to their heart. What better way to communicate that love and appreciation than through words of affirmation?

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  1. The 5 Love Languages. How do you give & receive love? Published 2020.

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