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Why Your Lover Doesn’t Want Your Advice, but Your Validation

Why Your Lover Doesn’t Want Your Advice, but Your Validation

Relationships, even the great ones, can be complicated. This is especially true if you’re lacking validation. Think about the last time you told your partner about the way you felt. Maybe he/she said something to you that hurt your feelings. On some level, perhaps you knew they didn’t mean it to be hurtful, but because of something you’d experienced in the past, it rubbed you the wrong way.

If relationships worked the way they did in the movies, your partner would have said something like, “Honey, I completely understand where you’re coming from. You don’t have to say it. I’ll not let anything hurt your any more.(Hug)” But because life isn’t a movie, there’s a chance your partner actually said something closer to, “Why are you getting so offended? I didn’t mean anything by it. You’re being dramatic for no reason.”

      If this sounds familiar, then you probably understand why validation in a relationship is important. It isn’t about being told you’re right or that everyone should agree with you, it’s simply about having your feelings acknowledged and successfully communicating within a relationship.

      Think about the last time you really felt like your partner understood you. You experienced a really peaceful sensation and some form of accomplishment. While it can be a subtle moment, feeling understood leads to a better, stronger connection. This isn’t just about acknowledging your partner when they tell you how they feel about something that happened between the two of you, it’s about being present in any conversation you share, even if it’s just a quick recap of their day.

      Your Relationship Grows When You Stop Judging and Start Accepting

      By showing your understanding and acceptance to your partner, they will feel more confidence in themselves and feel more willing to share their thoughts and feelings with you.

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      To illustrate the way this works, let’s use a dramatic example: Your partner has done something silly and you say, “That was so stupid.” Your partner becomes very insulted and hurt, even though you know you didn’t mean anything by it. In the back of your mind, you remember a family member used to tell him/her that they were stupid growing up.

      By validating your partner’s feelings, you calm or even eliminate their concerns.

      While your initial reaction may be to say something like, “Oh come on, you know I didn’t mean it like that…”, this can have an adverse effect and hurt your partner’s feelings even more. Instead, you would want to say something closer to, “I’m sorry I worded it that way. You know I think you’re so smart. It was careless and I apologize.”

      Your partner will feel loved and respected, and appreciate the relationship with you more.

      Remind your partner that you appreciate and respect them. Validate how they feel and ask if they’d like to talk about why they were so hurt by your comment.

      Arguments will be prevented, or quickly resolved.

      If your partner does open up and explain why he/she got offended, don’t allow yourself to get defensive while they talk. Remember, the whole point of asking them to talk about it was to hear them out. Let them talk before you jump to any arguments.

      You’ll help your partner to become open to your point of view.

      Your partner wants you to understand what is happening in their head, so remember that you deserve that opportunity, too. Apologize for the wording, especially since they were insulted with that same phrase while they were growing up. Empathy is key.

      And even if you can’t fix the issue, you’re providing encouragement and support.

      When something like this happens, you can’t go back and undo the way it made them feel, or the root of why it hurt them in the first place. But what you can do is allow a space for open communication and validation. “Sorry” may not be enough at first, because your partner may need some time to let it go. Even if it seems dramatic to you, remember that to them it isn’t dramatic at all. Let them know that you’ll be patient with the process and you will be more mindful in the future.

      The More You Validate Your Partner, the Deeper Your Connection Becomes

      Validation is key to a healthy, strong relationship. There are 6 levels of validation, and each helps you connect deeper and deeper with your lover.[1]

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      Level 1: Being Present

        This is exactly what it sounds like. Pay attention to what your partner is telling you. Look at their eyes, hold their hands, or even hug them to show that you’re being with them.

        Level 2: Accurate Reflection

          When you reflect your partner’s feelings, you summarize what they’ve said to you or share your opinion on the matter. It ensures you really were present and focused, while also helping them to sort through the situation and separate thoughts from emotions.

          Level 3: Mind Reading

            While being psychic would be helpful in any relationship, this level is actually about being able to guess what’s happening in the other person’s head based on observation. If your partner is telling you about something upsetting that happened at work, or about something you did that upset them, try to understand why it impacted them. Use statements like, “I’m guessing you must have felt really sad because…….”

            Level 4: Understand the Person in Terms of Their Experiences

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              Sometimes things are hurtful, not because they were intended to be, but because we experienced the situation through a lens of past experience. If your loved one is venting about something upsetting, but it doesn’t seem upsetting to you, take a step back and try to understand it from their point of view.

              Use statements like, “Given what happened to you when … I completely understand that this made you feel …”

              Level 5: Recognize Emotional Reactions That Anyone Would Have

                One of the easiest ways to validate your partner is by pointing out scenarios mentioned in a global way.

                For instance, if something happened that upset your partner, and you’re sure it would have upset you or anyone else that experienced it, say something like, “of course you feel … anyone would have felt that way!”

                A simple statement like that is comforting for your partner because they know that they really are not alone.

                Level 6: Radical Genuineness

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                  If you have ever experienced something similar to the scenario your partner is describing, share it. The goal is not to make this conversation about yourself. It is ideal to show that you are an equal and have experienced a similar instance.

                  Validate Your Partner By Starting With the Subtle Things

                  Each level of validation takes hours of practice because it has involved a lot of communication skills including patience, listening skills, how you tell your thoughts, and how you show empathy. To help you make validating your partner’s feelings easier, try the following steps.

                  Aim to Reach Level 1 & 2 First

                  This means you’ll be present and accepting during communication. While this will take practice, start by being aware of your body language. Crossed arms and a body angled away from your partner makes it look like you are only saying you want to hear what they have to say, but you really could not care less.

                  To Connect Deeper at Level 3 & 4, Observe More

                  Be mindful of the experiences your partner has had in the past and observe the way your partner acts with you. What are his/her usual behaviors, and how does he/she seem when they’re upset or sharing feelings with you? Once you start developing that awareness, conversation will become simpler.

                  To Reach Level 5, Understand More About Your Partner, and Others Too

                  While you never want to get overly caught up in comparing yourself to other people, it can be helpful to consider how others would face the same or similar situation. It can also be helpful to pretend to be an outsider when listening to your partner in order to better understand their feelings and not risk getting defensive.

                  To Advance to Level 6, Experience More

                  This can be challenging because you and your partner are not likely to have experienced the exact same situations, but if you can relate at all, share the way that scenario made you feel.

                  It takes two people to build a happy, strong and lasting relationship. After you read this, perhaps you want to sit down with your partner and discuss validation. How have you excelled at it in the past? Where could you have done more? Create a space for the conversation, so future talks will seem less forced.

                  Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

                  Reference

                  More by this author

                  Anna Chui

                  Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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                  Last Updated on May 7, 2019

                  How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

                  How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

                  Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

                  The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

                  The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

                  Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

                  People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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                    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

                    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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                        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
                        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
                        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
                        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
                        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

                        How to Spot a Wolf

                          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

                          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

                          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

                          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

                          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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                          Ask Questions, the More the Better

                          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

                          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

                          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

                          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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                          Wolves Are Everywhere

                          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

                          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

                          Reference

                          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
                          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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