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Last Updated on February 25, 2018

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 January 6, 2019

                  Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

                  Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

                  No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

                  People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

                  But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

                  If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

                  Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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                  Pain Is Our Guardian

                  Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

                  In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

                  Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

                  While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

                  Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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                  No Pain, No Happiness

                  You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

                  In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

                  In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

                  This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

                  Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

                  Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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                  This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

                  Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

                  Allow Room for the Inevitable

                  Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

                  Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

                  “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

                  Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

                  The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

                  While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

                  Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

                  Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

                  To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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                  You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

                  Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

                  Reference

                  [1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
                  [2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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