Pet has recently found himself taken by fly fishing. The idea of it. He’s an outdoorsy guy, and he is fascinated by the tools and the tying of flies and all the things.
Whether he catches any fish…well, he’s competitive, but right now, I’m not sure that matters.
It’s immersing himself in the thing.
And I get all hot and bothered and fan myself vigorously thinking of him standing in clear moving water in sunshine, flicking his hand-tied fly in slo-mo as the sun catches his eyes and makes them sparkle…
But I digress.
This is really all just an elaborate set-up to talk about fishing for compliments. And reassurance. And stuff.
And how many of us obsess over our bait in a very similar way to how fly fisherman obsess over their flies. Picking carefully, preening them, and wishing for luck as we send it flying towards our target.
And, like fly fisherman, we sometimes fail.
More often than not.
BUT, the times we do succeed! WOW! What a rush!
Catching that trophy is a rush like no other.
Damn that feels good.
I know it. I’ve done it. More than once.
And I know WHY we do it, too.
We fish for compliments because…
…it sucks to directly ask for something we want or need and not get it.
Soooo much sneakier to just dangle bait, right? They TOTALLY don’t know that when you say “I love you…” and leave it hanging in the air that you are desperately waiting to hear it back.
Except they do. You do. We alllllllll do. It’s easy to translate:
I love you = tell me you love me, too.
I miss you = make plans with me.
I want you = reassure me that you desire me.
Everyone knows that.
Even when you don’t mean that.
When you just want to say it.
They “know” they are being subtly pressured to reply. And it’s ok sometimes. And sometimes it’s awk.
And that’s frustrating.
When you are saying something just to say it, because you think they should know, not because you think they should respond or feel obligated.
So, what can you do?
First, know that sometimes you do use it as a fishing lure, and understand all the times it’s been used on you the same way, and forgive their wariness.
Second, just keep it up. Normalize complimenting people and telling them good things about themselves and the state of your feelings or relationship, just because.
Say things like:
- Wow! You’re so sexy just now. Mmmm.
- I really appreciate you.
- I’m thinking of you.
- You make my life better.
Of course, “I love you,” will nearly always be tainted by past experiences and pressures.
And that’s OK.
Because sometimes (if we’re gonna be honest) it’ll be tainted by current experiences as well. We’re human.
And last, when you need reassurance, learn to say so. The people who love you WANT you to feel loved and happy and secure in your relationships with them.
It really is as simple as, “I’d really like to hear how much you love me right now.”
Not while they are in the middle of an important presentation at work, of course. But when you are together, and there is plenty of time and mental space to make that happen.
Other favorites of mine:
“I’m cranky today. Please be extra sweet to me and say loving things.”
“I’d love a romantic date soon, could we plan one?”
“I need some space and quiet time, but I want to be with you. Could you go out tonight with friends, and then snuggle with me when you come home?”
Yes, sometimes asking directly for the space you need or the time you need matters, too.
And it’s way less obsessive and time consuming than fly fishing for your needs and wants, with a better chance of success—with the right partner(s).