1. “I believe in you.”
We want to believe that our loved ones implicitly know that we have faith in them – but it never hurts to voice it aloud. When someone’s going through a tough transition or taking a big chance in life, social support can make or break their self-confidence. So don’t be afraid to let them know that they have yours.
2. “I respect you.”
Being liked, being loved and being respected are all vastly different experiences. We hear affirmations of the first two on the regular, but respect is often a quiet, lesser-expressed emotion. It never hurts to let someone know that you hold him or her in high regard – in many ways, it’s a far greater compliment than being liked.
3. “I see the best in you (even when you don’t see it in yourself).”
We all make poor choices. We all get down on ourselves. We all occasionally forget what makes us wonderful, and that’s where our loved ones come in. Letting someone know that you still see the good qualities they’ve forgotten in themselves is like lighting a match for them in a pitch-dark room. It’s an inspiration for them to reconnect with those qualities again.
4. “Thank you for being strong on my behalf.”
When we are at our worst and our most broken, it becomes all too easy to forget that the strong, capable friends who are holding us up aren’t doing so effortlessly. It takes a huge amount of work to be unfailingly strong for someone else. And it never hurts to acknowledge when someone is putting forth that effort for you.
5. “I’m sorry and I’ve learnt from my mistake.”
We can all mutter an insincere apology. But true, genuine healing happens when we acknowledge exactly what we did wrong and let the other person know that we plan to change our behavior moving forward. Those are the kind of apologies that futures can be built on.
6. “I forgive you.”
These are three of the simplest yet most healing words in the English language – for both the person hearing them and the person saying them.
7. “I forgive me.”
We can try for years to internalize the feeling of self-forgiveness, but something about voicing it out loud makes it feel incomparably true. Say it to yourself in the mirror, say it to yourself in the shower, say it to yourself aloud as many times as you need to until it eventually becomes the truth.
8. “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here.”
Too often, we shy away from friends or loved ones who are struggling because we don’t know what to say to help them cope. Ironically, sometimes the single best phrase w can utter is this perfectly honest one – because love doesn’t mean always having the perfect words to offer. Sometimes it just means showing up.
9. “I’m worried about you.”
When we are struggling internally, we will often do anything to rationalize what we’re going through. Sometimes the best thing to hear during those times is a gentle, well-intended, “I’m worried about you,” from someone we love. It gives our struggles validity and allows us to acknowledge our need to heal.
10. “You inspire me.”
Perhaps the greatest compliment we can pay someone is letting them know that their determination and strength has inspired the same in us. It serves as a reminder that the happiest, brightest version of ourselves will always be the versions that benefit others the most.
11. “Knowing you has changed my life.”
It’s one thing to know that someone enjoys your company. It’s another thing entirely to know that your existence has inspired concrete, positive changes in their life. Letting someone know that they’ve changed your life – directly or not – is one of the most understated compliments we can pay anyone.
12. “What can I do to support you?”
Rather than grasping at straws trying to figure out how we can help our loved ones, the most beneficial thing we can do is sometimes just to ask them point blank. We often know exactly what we need from others, we just don’t feel comfortable asking for it – and this offers your loved one the explicit chance to do just that.
13. “You’re a priority to me.”
While hearing “I love you,” is nice, hearing, “I prioritize you,” means hearing a concrete promise that very few people are willing to make. In many ways, it’s the bravest possible way to express your feelings for someone – because it commits you to acting on your love, rather than simply voicing it.
14. “I’m angry but I don’t want to lose you.”
When emotions are running high and resentment starts to boil over, this one simple phrase can make or break a relationship. They say you should never go to bed angry – but if that’s not an option, at least go to bed with the affirmation that your love for one another exceeds your temporary state of anger.
15. “I disagree but I still love you.”
Too often, we group the person we’re arguing with in alongside the (perceived) idiotic argument that they’re making. Being able to separate the two – and let the other person know that you are doing so – is the difference between a debate that grows your relationship or an argument that ruins it.
16. “I love you but you need help that I can’t give you.”
We all want to be able to save the people we love – from their circumstances, from their problems, from themselves. But sometimes that just isn’t possible. Telling someone that they need help you can’t give them doesn’t mean you’re giving up on them – on the contrary, it means you want to help them in the truest, most effective way possible.
17. “It’s okay to have made a mistake.”
We spend a lot of time rationalizing other’s choices for them – “You didn’t know any better,” “You did the best you could at the time,” etc. But sometimes we all need the simple catharsis of having someone agree that we did something we shouldn’t have – and that that’s okay. That we all make mistakes. And that as long as we’re willing to learn from them, we can change our behavior moving forward.
18. “You are braver/smarter/stronger than you know.”
When the stakes are down and the tide seems to be flowing against us, it’s all too easy to forget our greatest virtues. Having a loved one remind us that we’re capable of more than it currently feels like we’re capable of is often the exact push we need to keep ourselves motivated. These words can have more power than you know.
19. “I’m not worried about you.”
Hearing someone say they’re not worried about is the ultimate vote of confidence that we’ll rise to a given occasion. And sometimes, an outside source having confidence in us is all we need to harness that same confidence in ourselves.
20. “I’m proud of you.”
This one always sounds oddly parental as the words pass our lips and yet it’s one of the most genuine forms of flattery we can express. Being proud of someone means having a personal investment in their wellbeing, and letting them know that we are on the front lines clapping when they win.
21. “I’ve been where you are.”
There are times when our loved ones need strategies or recommendations to pull themselves out of a troubling situation – but there are other times when all they require is a simple dose of empathy. Knowing someone has been through something similar to what you’re going through can be an overwhelmingly comforting notion – especially when you can clearly see that they’ve emerged from the other side alive.
22. “It doesn’t matter who was right.”
There will always be arguments we can’t resolve and disagreements we cannot settle. But deciding that your relationship is more important than who was right or wrong about a particular issue shows that your priorities are in order – and that you’re willing to put aside your pride to preserve something that matters.
23. “You don’t have to be strong right now.”
Even the bravest, fiercest and most capable people need to take breaks from having it all together. Letting someone know that you see past their façade and don’t expect them to keep it up around you can be an incredibly liberating experience. We all need the odd soft place to fall – and we can be those soft places for each other.
24. “Hey. It’s been too long.”
The longer we go without talking to someone we love – or once loved – the harder it seems to become to bridge the gap. We fear that we’ve waited too long or missed our chance.
But the truth is, with the people we love, it’s never too late.
It’s always just a matter of being brave enough to say what you’ve probably both been thinking.