The relationship-help book called "the five love languages" or something similar has been making the rounds in my social circles. I think the concept is actually pretty cool - understand people's love languages so that you can better show love to them and so you can understand your own needs. It's already helping me understand others and better show my love, so I thought I'd share it here. The first language is "words of affirmation" - sincere praise, verbal affection, and warm, heartfelt compliments are the core of this language... and discouraging remarks are its opposite.

Words of affirmation really don't do that much for me... I had a reader who was really, honestly concerned for my emotional and spiritual wellbeing because I get so many "you are amazing" comments here on (Gay) Mormon Guy. He was concerned that it was getting to my head... and that I was "breathing in" the fumes, as President Uchtdorf humorously put in his talk on pride. But, as much as I try to appreciate sincere compliments and praise in my life, words of affirmation from other people usually don't have much effect. I mean, you're welcome to compliment me on whatever, but I'll probably forget about ten seconds later. And if I'm depressed, getting a hundred "you're amazing" comments doesn't do anything. I'm not good at making affirmative remarks either; I have to consciously make an effort to remember tell my date she looks nice, or to even give a coworker a compliment on a job well done.

At the same time though, I take every discouraging remark that comes my way personally - and I treat sarcasm as if it were an honest opinion. I may not remember what people said that was nice, but I can remember what they said that wasn't forever. While the words can't really hurt me, comments can turn my life upside down as I try to understand their perspective and what I need to change in order to become better. An example - once someone called me a liar, to my face, and told me I didn't care about others. They were angry and didn't understand all the information, but I still remember standing there, wondering what I had done wrong to merit the tirade I received... and wondering what I needed to do to fix myself in the future. I don't ever hold grudges against or judge people; I just believe that in every comment ever voiced or written - sincere or sarcastic - there is at least a grain of truth... and I try to find it.

Receiving: Mediocre. I'm getting better - I can tell when people are trying to show their love through sincere praise or compliments. And even though I don't feel much from the comment itself, I appreciate that they are willing to take the time to share their thoughts with me.

Giving: Mediocre. Unless I am actively trying to lift someone who's depressed, I don't often affirm the good things they do, or even affirm their character. But I'm getting better - complimenting others, letting them know that I esteem and support them, and especially saying thank you to the people who make a difference in my life.

Different with guys? No. For me, compliments from or to guys are just the same as to or from girls.
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