We’ve all heard the saying, “You get more flies with honey than vinegar.”
Cliche as it sounds, you can take this little gem to the bank. Human nature dictates that we are more agreeable, in a healthier mental space and able to give our best when we are treated with love and kindness and offered support and encouragement.
We often feel that pointing out flaws will “motivate” our significant other and show them “who they can truly be.”
Generally this backfires because we can retreat and “dig in” when feeling attacked. All mates are of course, entitled to have their personal limits and deal breakers.
Therefore, it’s always advisable to have a constructive conversation about them. That said, timing and phrasing will be vital. In order to bring out the best in your mate, you have to give them your best to start with.
Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT – www.lifeissuespsychotherapy.com
Many women believe that bringing out the best in their partners means teaching them how to be a better partner for them.
Many men, wanting to please their new partners, initially strive to be what their women ask of them. If there is a gap between what a man is naturally at his best and what his woman believes he should, or could, be, that is a sure formula for future disappointment and disillusionment.
Best also implies the top of the line, an odd definition of perfection. In successful relationships, that definition should change as partners get to know each other better and continue to help each other to transform into better versions of themselves.
In addition, being the best in one area may not be able to be matched in another.
All relationships evaluations are usually continuously proportional. That means some behaviors are neither desirable nor barely acceptable, while others make the relationship worth it despite those that disappoint. Only a major deal breaker will change that evaluation process.
Women who look for the best in their men must also be on the lookout for comparing them to what the media presents, or what they were taught to expect from childhood models.
Actual male partners are not virtual inventions. Every man comes to a relationship with his own combination of sweet times, traumas, successes, and failures in all past relationships. He may be a person forever defined by those past memories or one who is committed to learn from them and do better the next time. In either case, he is who he is.
Ultimately, you can only be authentic in telling him what you need and wish, and how you will respond if your needs are met.
If he feels loved, supported, and accepted, and does not feel a constant sense of disappointing you, he will want to meet your needs within what he can give without threatening his own integrity. If he can, or doesn’t have the motivation, to do that, you will risk your opportunity to bring out the best in what he can do.
I have spent over four decades working with couples. I have interviewed hundreds of men from thirteen to eighty.
When I ask them what they most value in a long-term relationship, they overwhelmingly state the appreciation of a woman who “gets” them, and makes them feel like they can’t do anything irrevocably wrong.
They feel most beloved when a woman forgives their faults and genuinely appreciates their contributions. When women automatically feel that way toward their man, they needn’t try to bring out the best. It will already be offered.
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
Ten minutes into writing this article, I got the fabulous idea to interview men about this very topic.
I thought: How much better would it be to get the words straight from the horses’ mouths? Here is what they had to say:
*All excerpts are from the original responses I received from the men who responded to my poll.
– Her kindness brings out the best in me and makes me want to be more like her.
– She brings out the best in me just by being loving and honest.
– She is uncompromisingly herself which allows me to be myself.
– She brings me back down to Earth when I lose focus on the present.
– She has shown me parts of myself I was never aware of and has brought me closer to more fully loving myself and others.
– For simply knowing she believes in me.
– We take the first 30 minutes of everyday to keep the channel of communication open. Nothing is off the table to discuss. I feel heard and accepted.
– She allows me to be me. She is understanding and nonjudgmental while listening to me. She mentions the little things she loves that I do which makes me want to please her even more.
– She acknowledges me, my being. It allows me to show up greater in the world.
– She is very sensitive and loving and makes me feel like I matter. She brings out the emotional side of me in a good way.
Although society has dictated for millennia that men “should be” unconditionally strong, stoic, and fearless leaders in their families and communities, they are still 100% human beings first with the same fears, doubts and sensitivities as females. Although superficially it may not seem that their feelings run as deeply as a woman’s, don’t fool yourself – they most definitely do!
Men thrive in a safe and loving environment as do the rest of us.
To continuously belittle, shame or blame your man is to wound his heart. Per the words of a well-known Reverend, “Men will only do what they feel they are good at. If you continue to tell us what we do wrong, we stop trying.”
So if one wonders how she can bring out the best in her partner my answer will always be… the same way the best is brought out in any human being… through kindness and love.
Kristen Brown, Author & Certified Empowerment Coach – www.sweetempowerment.com
I once listened to a talk where a couple had created a completely new relationship after infidelity.
What I always remembered about them was that she said, “Well no one ever walks away from love do they?”
Her point was that if she was responsible for being loving (and of course there were other things about creating trust and boundaries etc.) if she took responsibility for being loving no matter what, she knew she was doing all she could do.
She was committed to love. She thought I could be eaten up with jealousy or I could communicate love.
I think that sums it up. Who can resist the magnetic power of love?
Everyone wants to be around love. A person who is behaving in loving ways can bring out the best in others because she is safe to be around. There is a ripple effect!
Defenses melt in the face of love.
So if a woman wants to bring out the best in her partner then she can recognize that she has power. The power of choice, of making many choices both small and big that come from a place of love not fear.
This may mean exercising wisdom.
It doesn’t mean being a slave or slavishly serving or being self-sacrificing. Quite the opposite, being loving means being loving also of oneself. That can take many forms. It might mean not needing to be right.
It might mean not insisting on pointing out that your partner was not behaving in ways you expected. It might mean remaining silent at times. At other times it might mean having the courage to speak the truth in a gentle but firm way.
So there are three steps here. 1) is being aware 2) is recognizing that you have choice and 3)is choosing to come from love not fear.
Throw in a little wisdom and you will be a magnet for love! It’s the icing on the cake. Being loving brings good energy and it makes people happy and by looking through the lens of love at your partner you will project and reflect love.
Ultimately this means that you are seeing already the best they can be, before it has even happened and you are part of a process of creating just what you expect. Another way of saying this is what we notice persists. So acknowledge all the good you see and you will see more of it!
Margie Ulbrick, LLB/BA/GD SOCSCI – www.margieulbrickcounselling.com
This title is a bit misleading. It suggests that we have a lot of power in making someone else the best that they can be.
In reality, we are only responsible for ourselves.
Of course it can be possible to see someone’s potential based on what we experience from them, even if they can’t see it themselves.
It can often times feel frustrating to see the people we care about struggle due to their own fears and insecurities, but the truth is, all we can do is be there to listen and support because it is their journey, not ours.
In my practice I often hear one ask how they can bring out the best in their partner. I usually respond with the question, “What is your goal”?
I believe that the healthiest relationships are the ones where each partner takes responsibility for themselves and only themselves. This doesn’t mean you are selfish and always put yourself first.
This means that you are the authority on you; who you are, how you act, and how you take care of yourself and they are the authority on themselves; who they are, how they act, and how they take care of themselves.
The best thing you can do for your partner is let them be who they are.
Jacqueline V. Cohen, LPC – www.therapymama.com
Those of you have been reading my contributions to this website probably realize that I’m a big pessimist when it comes to taking care of almost anybody other than yourself.
I’m a big fan of people taking care of themselves. I think that two people who are conscious of growing themselves up can connect and create a fabulous relationship.
That being said, we certainly do have influence with one another, so while each of has to work to bring out the best in ourselves, here are some tips for helping your partner.
1. Remember that you can’t bring out something that isn’t there. You need to accept your partner for who he is.
2. Listen. People underrate the value of listening. It’s a very validating experience to feel really listened to. When you listen to somebody, you are telling him that he’s important, and that what he has to say has value to you.
3. On that note, if possible listen without judgment. Listening doesn’t mean agreement. It’s more about respect for another person’s ideas and feelings.
4. Don’t follow up his experience with your own experience. Most people listen for a while and then use the content as a springboard to talk about
themselves. For the speaker it’s like having the rug pulled out from under you. One minute you are feeling cared for, and the next you’re feeling irrelevant. Think about the last time that happened to you. It won’t be a pleasant memory.
5. Don’t complain or nag. I don’t want you to avoid necessary conversations, but complaining and nagging is usually unproductive and engenders anxiety and often withdrawal in your partner.
6. Take care of yourself so that you don’t burden your partner with the responsibility of your well-being. Taking care of yourself (and your kids) is usually about all anybody can reasonably handle.
A relationship is about sharing lives.
All people have ups and downs and being a good partner means being present, but it doesn’t mean that you are responsible. You really can’t bring out the best in somebody; each of us has to do that for ourselves. But you can be helpful by listening closely, compassionately and non-judgmentally.
Sally Leboy, MS, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
When you love someone, you naturally want to meet their needs and/or desires in every way possible.
When our needs are met and we feel appreciated in return, we are able to experience our ‘best self’.
To inspire your partner to manifest his ‘best’ partnering possible, make sure he knows your needs and desires!
Too often we believe that “if they loved us, they would know…” – most often FALSE! We come into relationships with different perspectives and different life experiences.
Classic romance history suggests that women be spoiled with expensive wine and roses – both of which may in fact insult a woman who is financially conservative, has allergies, or comes from a family of alcoholics.
When your partner knows what, precisely, can cause you to pop a smile, he is apt to think of doing it.
Likewise, a partner who feels valued is much more likely to continue the behavior for which he is appreciated!! Think of it as a perfect example of positive reinforcement. If you love his hugs, tell him!!
Ask for them and then thank him for taking the time to hug you. Most men (people in fact) will go out of their way to solicit more complimentary feedback. In this same arena – compliment him!!
Tell him – often – how attractive he is to you. It reinforces that you are attracted to him and solidifies his trust in your commitment.
Lastly – demonstrate respect!
Without doubt, this is one of the most critical elements of a good relationship. Men will not stay in a relationship when they feel they cannot be ‘a man’.
Find out (by asking) what he finds important and then support him 100%.
Some men need to feel as though they are the key provider, others want to know that you feel protected, and still others need to feel they have decision making power – a voice in the relationship. Frequently, some combination of all three are important.
Leslyn Kantner, MSMHC, NCC – www.theharmonycc.com
Most importantly, let go of your ideas about what your partner’s best is.
When you cling to your concept of what would be best for another person, when you believe that person would be so much happier, more fulfilled, better off…etc. if only he would just see things your way, do it your way, pursue the goals you think are the “right” ones, you not only dis-empower that person, you sabotage the relationship by setting up a non-mutual dynamic.
In other words, you become the “fixer” or parental figure rather than a partner on equal ground.
To bring out the best in your partner, look deeply and pay attention to what he wants, not what you think he should want.
Listen openly, be curious, and accept your partner for who he is rather than what he does. Ask yourself if you are in love with him or with the person you think he is capable of becoming.
People energetically sense expectations and pressure, even when they are unspoken. Look deeply inside yourself and ask if you are truly able to see, accept and support your partner.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t want your partner to grow, but trust him to grow by allowing plenty of space rather than pushing.
To paraphrase Carl Rogers, the curious paradox is when you accept your partner just as he is, that is when he can change. So don’t try to change him! A loving relationship can and will nurture success and personal development when you accept and fully support your partner from an authentic place.
Wendy Dingee, MS, LCPC, LCADC, BCC – www.livewellnevada.com
If no ideas come to mind, then think about someone who has also been inspirational: think about a mentor, teacher, close friend, or relative whom you loved to spend time with, and you felt like you could be genuine around.
What are some things this person said or did which made you feel you could be your “true self” around them? Were they easy-mannered? Did it feel as though they listened to you and truly heard what you were saying? Perhaps it was a look they gave, one which assured you of their unconditional love and support?
Sometimes just telling our partner how much we appreciate what they do for us, no matter how menial, can go a long way towards building fondness and affection.
For example if your partner has something they routinely do, let them know how much you appreciate this gesture. Or if your partner makes time for you at night to listen to your day, verbalize how much this means to you.
This apparently small, kind action and validation can build greater respect between each other, which in turn increases one’s pride in their relationship.
This can then lead to a feeling like we can take on the world while knowing our partner backs us and is there for us, no matter the task being undertaken.
Laura Pryor, LIMHP, LPC, PLADC – www.laurapryortherapy.com
He needs to know what you appreciate. I don’t care if he’s a great carrot peeler or driveway reﬁnisher, he deserves to know the good stuff.
If you’re really smart, you will incorporate appreciation into your relationship.
That way, he’ll believe you and not wonder what you want when you praise his efforts. You want to create an atmosphere of respect that allows for open communication.
Be very careful in presenting what might be construed as criticism.
No matter how enlightened your honey is, his defenses will go right up when he perceives a critical tone. So, instead of saying, “That sweater looks awful with those jeans”, try “Indulge me, I think you will look fabulous in this combination, would you please just try it on for me so we can see how it looks”.
Use the same tact in matters of table manners, endlessly boring conversation, even bad breath. You can talk to him about almost anything if you phrase it in a way that allows him to listen to you.
First, you must get comfortable with yourself and decide whether your intention is to enhance his good feelings about himself or if you are feeling guilty or angry when you bring up the subject.
You have the “right” to make a suggestion, so tuck away your feelings of guilt and present your recommendation in a normal, casual tone.
You will be far more successful if you ﬁgure out why you are angry before you approach him.
If it’s a case of you’re embarrassed by him, have a little talk with yourself. There is no need for you to be discomﬁted by something you have not done.
The very people whose judgment you fear may just ﬁnd him to be charming. In any case, if you care for him, build him up. If you become a primary source of negativity, he won’t want to hang around very long. Would you?
Ruth Gordon, M.A., MSW, LICSW – www.foreverfabulousyou.com
Relationships feel satisfying and are able to be sustained, when each partner feels loved, appreciated,understood, and valued.
This enables a couple to open up, emotionally, to one another, become attached ,and feel cared about. Humans are flawed and struggle, have a range of emotions and vulnerabilities, and need the context of a safe and loving relationship to be understood and to motivate themselves to focus on who they want to be , as well as grow, develop, and evolve as individuals and as a couple.
Here are some tips for bringing out the best in your partner:
1. Take an active interest in their work, interests, and passions.
Take the time to understand what they do and/or what their goals are for their work and personal life.
Actively engage them by discussing issues, asking them questions, and remembering the details about what they have shared in the past about the nature of their work, and their general passions.
Understand how they feel about their co-workers, general schedules, meetings, problems, and areas that stimulate and motivate them within their life.
2. Try to find a common activity or hobby that you can share and do together.
This helps to build novelty in the relationship, helps you to work as team, share a common experience together, and create fun and lasting memories. It also provides you both with the ability to support and help each other in the activity so that you can work towards forming mutual goals like running a marathon or hiking higher on a trail together.
3. Make time for physical affection and physical intimacy.
This will help you to bond, share something special and unique with one another, feel desired, channel physical and sexual energy together , and to relax and enjoy one another.
When these areas and needs are met, you can sustain a strong relationship, where you are bringing out happiness and the best in one another.
Stephanie Newberg, M.Ed., M.S.W., L.C.S.W – www.stephanienewberg.com
Take a personal inventory of your strengths and weaknesses.
We all have flaws. Be conscious if the pendulum has swung more toward you presenting your weaknesses to your partner instead of your strengths.
Your own strengths accentuate the positive qualities in your partner.
Sometimes we get stuck in autopilot when it comes to our relationships. We can slide easily into focusing on our partner as opposed to taking a good, honest look at ourselves.
Once you maintain a healthy dose of self-confidence, begin to note the positive qualities in your partner and consider ways to help support him toward his personal goals.
Encourage your partner to step outside of his comfort zone to reach his best self.
Brooke Campbell, M.A., RDT-BCT, LCAT – www.creativekinections.com
1. Focus on the positive
Everyone has their faults. By focusing on a person’s positive attributes, you make your partner feel better about himself and bring the best out of him.
2. Let go of the need to be right
Arguments will get you nowhere. Compromise is essential to a peaceful relationship. Show your partner that you care and make him feel that he is being heard.
3. Be respectful of your partners needs
Your partner may have needs that are different than yours, and that’s ok. Respect those needs by accommodating them or giving each other space.
4. Remember why you are together and what you liked about him when you first met
Look each other in the eyes. The spark is still there. Remember to bring it back.
5. Do not judge each other
You want your partner to be comfortable around you. Give them room to be themselves.
6. Show interest in your partner’s life
People grow and change over the years. When you show interest in your partner’s life, you show him that he is still important to you. It makes him feel needed.
7. Spend time together
Life is too short, so spend time together. Do not waste time and energy on things that are not important.
Galit Kedar, M.A., LMHC – www.galitkedar.com
Bringing out the best in your partner means seeing all they are and all they can be and then supporting them in their endeavors.
Be their biggest cheerleader. Give them positive reinforcement for the gains they make. Make a commitment to being there for them, no matter what.
When you see the good in your partner, it is a reflection of the good you see in yourself.
When you see the good in yourself, you will find your passion in life and move forward. Your significant other, if committed and willing, will go with you on the journey.
Bring out the best in yourself and do the same things that were just recommended.
Be your biggest cheerleader. Give yourself reinforcements (chocolate anyone?). Make a commitment to yourself and live it each and every day.
Bringing out the best in your partner also means letting go.
It means encouraging and supporting your partner but also letting them find their own best. It might mean letting go when they decide to go down a path you didn’t expect them to. It might mean being there for them even when it is not something that was on your agenda.
Letting go will help both partners gain perspective on their personal lives and be in the optimal position to make healthy and sound decisions.
In the end, it’s all about the intentions you set and follow through on.
If you want to bring out the best in your partner, set the intention. Live it every day and you will see it come to fruition.
Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.browardcounseling.com