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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.