Love is validated in the memories of the past…
“I see, I hear, I get”
Emotions heal and anger is soothed when they are heard and validated. So too are the people and the relationship they’re in. Validating is about “not only do I hear what you’re saying, but I get it, I get you.” You are in essence saying to your partner “I see you, I hear you and you and our relationship together have meaning to me.”
Beware the extremes
Communication is an emotional event, especially when emotional needs or personal boundaries are at stake. It is at these times that relationships can come to an inflection point in value and how they are perceived by our partners. While at these points are polar extremes, validating our partner on a regular and continuous basis is at the heart of any intimate relationship.
Even when we disagree
Even when we disagree, validation provides a way for us to communicate the common ground between us. Providing emotional validation shows the speaker that we’re not only accept them, but they are safe and secure in expressing themselves and their thoughts and ideas free of ridicule or disdain.
It’s about leadership
As a man we’re culturally taught not only to provide but to also protect, typically from an external threat, but what happens when the threat and injuries are internal, that originates from within the relationship and by us? When our actions indicate blaming, judging, denying and minimizing our partner’s emotions, we are invalidating not only their emotions, but them as well. These actions leave psychic and emotional wounds which leave our partners feeling rejected, ignored or judged. What does it say about a man’s leadership ability when he makes his partner feel this way on a continuous basis? Should he be surprised when she seeks out comfort, security and acceptance from another man in the casual sex quadrant of life? Do you really think it will stay casual for long? Are we not aware of hypergamy by now?
Invalidation disrupts relationships, creates emotional distance and alienation with our partners. It is a drain on the emotional bank account we have established, and one that typically fuels a relationship’s demise. Combine invalidation with a negative feedback loop and the relationship is in a certain death spiral.
While this knowledge is mostly likely very common, what isn’t is acting on the actual behavior traits of validating our partners on a continual basis. It’s what’s known as the ‘Knowledge-Doing’ gap. We may know something, but there is a big gap in habitual behaviors which are destructive to our relationships.
When listening is an investment
Most people stop listening when they think they already know what the other person is going to say. Other times they stop listening when they’ve gotten the information they wanted, but that’s not why your partner is talking to you… Active listening is when you’re able to accurately repeat in your own words what it is that your partner is conveying or trying to. If you’re not sure, you ask clarifying questions to seek their intent. Validating goes beyond active listening and combines developing empathy and emotional support skills in recognizing that your time, energy and focus attention sends the very real message that your partner is important to you, and what they are saying is important to you, as a consequence. When you listen to build and reinforce a relationship, you’re investing in the relationship and your partner. That’s the validation we’re talking about.
Striking a balance
However there’s a balance to be struck between empowerment the ability to change your state of being, including your feelings and behavior and emotional validation. Men tend to focus on too much empowerment and women tend to stay in emotional validation too long, which inhibits progress in both cases. If you don’t validate sufficiently, your partner will resist your efforts at assistance. If you validate too much, your partner will begin to identify with their issue or symptom (victimhood mentality). Emotional validation without empowerment is ineffectual pity and empowerment without emotional validation leaves your partner feeling that you don’t get them.