I once dated a guy who was sort of, um, sensitive. He felt most loved by words of affirmation, which is perfectly legitimate, yet pride played a role in his feeling affirmed. Often, for instance, he didn’t just want for me to tell him nice things; he wanted others to notice whenever I told him nice things and insisted I do it within their earshot. He didn’t just want to hold hands; he wanted everyone to see us holding hands so we could declare our dating status. I felt insincere doing loving things only for appearances’ sake, and frustrated that he couldn’t accept my affirmation internally, rather than in front of an audience. This battle over compliments and validation became one of our most frequent fights, and more than once we found ourselves shooting death glares across the table and furiously whispering to each other (or texting each other) in the presence of our friends. Awkward to the max.
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