And it’s NOT what you think it is.
Sure, “Oh you’re so big” is probably up near the top of the list, but it’s not what will stick with him forever (though he might high five his friends about it later).
The real answer is: “I appreciate you, as a person.”
At first glance, that statement doesn’t seem like the most impactful thing in the world, but here’s why the words, “I appreciate you,” are so powerful.
From a zoomed-out view in culture, men and women are often valued in superficial ways. For example, women are often reduced to nothing more than their beauty in society’s eyes. Ronda Rousey could be the most badass woman alive, but magazines will still want to put her on their covers in swimsuits and near-unclad situations.
For men, the societal values we’re judged by are all external: our career, power, status among peers, bank account and even the car we drive.
When you see a man in a relationship with a woman who seems to be out of his league, everyone instantly thinks, “Man, he must make a lot of money,” or “He must drive a kick*ss car.”
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Why isn’t it ever that he must be a super-awesome dude? That he’s hilarious, or crazy-smart, or loving and warm? That’s why it means so much to hear that we’re appreciated — for who we are.
Television, movies, magazines and the world at large tell us that our value is tied to all of these external accomplishments, that success is the true measure of a man’s worth. When you tell us that you love us for who we are instead of what we’ve done, it makes us feel valued as a person.
It also means we don’t have to be afraid of failing at any of those things we’re supposedly being judged on.
If you love us as a person, trust me, we know it.
It’s just nice to be reminded that society is dumb, the same way you like to be reminded we don’t just like you because of your body.