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coyote-1 t1_iwvik0e wrote

The potential downfall of this leaps out: if you try to make someone feel ‘appreciated’, it often comes across as patronizing. And that is alienating.


CrisiwSandwich t1_iwvmtq4 wrote

I think the way to not be patronizing is to be more specific. When a partner repeatedly says "I'm lucky to have you" or "you're so amazing." It can feel hollow especially if it is repated word for word often. It's like how my SO tells me I'm beautiful every day. He thinks it's nice because I can have low self esteem so he wants me to know that he thinks I'm beautiful. Me having grown up in trauma questions if he likes anything else besides looks because he says it so much.

I like being told when I am appreciated about specific things I DO. "Thanks for making our home look nice" or "I'm proud that you are willing to learn how to fix your own vehicle, that's awesome" or "You worked hard today, would you like me to run you a hot bath."

Being able to feel appreciated is hard for me because in my head people will hate me by default. My mom wasn't the kindest lady and my brother is close to sociopathic. I often wonder if compliments mean the opposite when they are vague like a coworker saying that I work hard. But when you point out a specific thing I did I tend to eat that up. I don't know if others will agree but when it is more about the things I do or my mind being appreciated I am generally more receptive. If I am loved, awesome, pretty or whatever vague good thing my brain cannot see it as actually being valued. It could be pitty, it could be a lie, the person could not fully understand the context of who I am. I don't know why, but it's just how I question things.


RolyPolyCat t1_iwvu2p0 wrote

Are you, me? I could never articulate it but you just summed up how I’ve always felt and thought too :/


coyote-1 t1_iwvtdg2 wrote

Thanks for sharing. It is appreciated.

The flipside though is this: I do not need to be complimented for things. I know full well when I’ve done something that works, is useful, etc. And I know full well when my efforts have come up short. So to be complimented for what I already know I’ve done well does nothing for me…. and if by chance I get a compliment for what I know I did NOT do well, that infuriates me. I see it as an insult, and it pushes me away further.


ginga_bread42 t1_iwxfncu wrote

For me, I think part of the appreciation is even just recognizing that I put effort into something. It doesn't necessarily need to be a compliment. I really hate needing to remind a partner about things I've done for "us" in a relationship when they claim to be doing all the work. I dont want to have to keep score of who has done what to begin with and when they claim to be doing all the work, that's when I'm pushed away since clearly this means they haven't seen or appreciate things I've done.


ballman17 t1_iwxi5rr wrote

"I dont want to have to keep score"

This hit me hard. My SO grew up where her family always kept score. There was never something done purely out of love or because they wanted to do something for the other person. It was always because one person "owed" something to the other.

This translates into our relationship where if she does something for the family or myself, now i owe her something. The only way to make her happy is to always be "even" or not owe anything.

Fast forward 10 years in the relationship and now its to the point that nothing I do is valued enough to ever get me out of her preverbal debt.


coyote-1 t1_iwyul9o wrote

A few years ago we remodeled our kitchen. The sink in particular is beautiful. For months after that, my wife thought the sink was cleaning itself because that’s how good it appeared…. it didn’t occur to her that I was cleaning it daily, as I had always done with the old sink.

So now the running joke, whenever something has been done around the house and only later did she get around to noticing/commenting, is “the self-cleaning sink did that”. I went away for five days on business last week, and when I returned she listed out all the stuff my absence had grudgingly forced her to do.


autistictck t1_iwy2r05 wrote

I like to show the impact when showing appreciation so I’ll say something like: “I felt so loved when you did X. I know it was really effortful/time-consuming so thank you.” That way I’m highlighting how it makes me feel as well as acknowledging what he put into making it happen. Other times I will focus on character traits to let him know I also appreciate him and not just things he does. Compliments are nice but ultimately they’re just evaluations and not as intimate.


coyote-1 t1_iwxgvti wrote

This is the thing: I rarely mention the stuff I do. I hope it’s noticed. It rarely is. And then in those rare moments when I do say “look what I’ve done”, it is immediately countered with “but I do things for us too”.


ginga_bread42 t1_iwxhomh wrote

When I say "I" in my comment, I mean that I'm the one with the avoidant attachment. I also dont point stuff out unless I'm essentially forced to.


RubyRaven907 t1_iwwb6yq wrote

So has anybody ever just said to you something like…oh, dang! That was a swing and a miss! Are you able to accept acknowledgement of your effort and mild criticism? There’s a subtlety to providing feedback to your other in a way that’s validating of work but maybe not product.


abas t1_iwwlwv7 wrote

I have long had difficulty with compliments myself. I started going to therapy about two years ago and early on noticed that I had a hard time when my therapist complimented me. One thing that I noticed was that I always ran the compliment through my own filters to evaluate it. And similar to what you said, if it was something I already knew I did well it didn't really seem like a big deal to me, and if it was something that I didn't think I deserved a compliment for than I more or less just dismissed it as uninformed I guess.

After talking with a friend about it, I decided to work at trying to let the compliments in with out as much filtering, to just feel them I guess. I was doing a lot of work on other things in therapy at the same time which I imagine also were factors, but I did eventually get more comfortable with compliments to where now it is easier for me to just appreciate them and feel good without needing to analyze them so much.


Ambitious_Medium_625 t1_iwx5t0d wrote

I distrust complements for all those reasons you listed, but also because growing up compliments were always given in a snide, backhanded way. And often just used as sarcasm to express discontent, so every compliment would mean the opposite. So, like the example you gave of coworker saying you work hard, I would take that as the opposite and them expressing discontent.


punio4 t1_iwynz42 wrote

Amazing comments here. I've saved the page as a PDF as all these comments will 100% be removed due to r/science moderation rules.


hanna2626 t1_iwxeyr6 wrote

100 million percent. I also struggle with the fact that my partner said those exact same things to me, also repeatedly, only to discover that she said those same things verbatim to all of her exes too. Just, no. Goodbye.


SoundProofHead t1_iwyptau wrote

Very good points. Specific compliments are definitely better. And I think that's a fact for anyone, traumatized or not. But traumatized people are especially susceptible to doubt and overthinking, so special care should be taken to be specific and to tailor to one's soft spots. I don't think every vague or general compliment is necessarily insincere but I totally understand why you would have doubts.


RubyRaven907 t1_iww70sq wrote

I don’t think (for me) it’s about compliments but ACKNOWLEDGING EFFORT. Example: I ALWAYS thank the cook of a meal. I acknowledge their effort. So it makes me resentful and less inclined to make an effort when my teenage boys and husband slurp up a beautiful meal…and don’t acknowledge…ANYTHING? Not a thank you?

If I do a nice thing for someone and they don’t acknowledge it…I tend to not invest effort in them again. I’m not “mad” at them…I’ve just now learned my lesson that they are a poor relationship investment. I might try again if I’m aware they’re not in a good position emotionally but I’m careful.


Ambitious_Medium_625 t1_iwx6ema wrote

Personally, I've learnt not to expect anything from anyone like a "thank you" when doing something nice for them. But it doesn't matter to me because I don't think people are required to do anything in return for acts of generosity, although I try to my hardest to return the favour and be thankful when someone does something nice to me.


gegc t1_iwwzn5z wrote

This is absolutely correct. I think the article/study is very precise with their wording, which many people may miss - "feeling appreciated" is not the same as "being appreciated".

Broadly generalizing, avoidant people have learned that their caregivers are unsafe. Any appreciation or positive affect (if given at all), usually has some catch, caveat, or unreliability. Therefore, they will by default perceive appreciation as duplicitous or threatening ("what's their angle?", feeling an obligation/expectation to always behave a certain way or else, waiting for the other shoe to drop, etc). This is what it took to survive their abusive/neglectful/inconsistent caregivers. The mistreatment created the internal model: "It is safer to reject love, than to accept it and open oneself to the inevitable injury." The fundamental issue is one of learned mistrust.

Therefore, an avoidant person is not able to receive appreciation, even if it is sincerely given. If the person giving the appreciation doesn't understand this, they will eventually become frustrated and resentful. This, of course, reinforces the avoidant person's model that appreciation (or any kind of closeness) is a threat to safety.

This is why healing is necessarily a two-way street. You cannot unilaterally either "fix" another person (if you have an avoidant partner) nor "be fixed" by another person (if you're the avoidant one). The partner must be consistent in their availability and support, and the avoidant individual must be mindful and consciously challenge their old world model with new data.


coyote-1 t1_iwxc3gz wrote

On your third paragraph: being avoidant myself, yes we are able to receive appreciation…. as long as it’s not coming from a person who has already demonstrated that their ‘appreciation’ cannot be trusted.


EFIW1560 t1_iwzd3pz wrote

Honest question: how many chances does a person have to mistakenly or absentmindedly be less than reliable? Is it a one and done situation? Does that apply to more casual relationships or also to a partner (deeper relationships)?

Do you distinguish between accidental unreliability (perhaps running late to a meetup due to traffic or something) and purposeful reliability? If so, how do you tell the difference between the two?

I guess my point is do we account for the fact that people are not perfect and do make mistakes, or do we attempt to hold everyone around us to our own rigorous standards that we have developed to protect ourselves? I dont think thats fair to others, especially when they may not have been forced to develop this learned distrust. I think it also sets us up for disappointment when others, naturally, are unable or unwilling to meet our standards, thereby reinforcing our distrust.


coyote-1 t1_iwzjdy4 wrote

With strangers, it’s one and done. There are too many people out in the world to get hung up on one stranger. I won’t be rude, but I won’t go out of my way to interact with them again.

If it’s someone I know, I let patterns dictate. If someone is routinely reliable and something happens, well then something happens! That is a reality, and I gladly let it slide without “keeping score”.

But if it becomes an obvious pattern, then BUMP.


Fmeson t1_iww9y5v wrote

If it's genuine, it won't tend to come across as patronizing. Think of it less as "making someone feel 'appreciated'" and more "give credit where credit is due".

After all, you can't force someone to feel a way, you can only control your actions. If someone has some issue where they distrust even genuine expression of appreciation, that's on them to work on.


jellybeansean3648 t1_iwxnd6y wrote

Thank you goes pretty far. So does "I appreciate you doing xyz".

At least in the workplace. I have a lot of mutualistic and prosocial relationships. Somehow it's easier to be polite and distant and reciprocate favors in professional situations.

And when people go out of their way to acknowledge I helped or that the work was a pain in the ass, I feel appreciated. Even dumb things like someone bringing in donuts or snacks works on me.