Every woman, no matter what her size, shape or age, loves to hear those magic words, "You're so beautiful!"
For better or for worse, we've all been brought up on stories about beautiful princesses and gorgeous heroines, and no matter how evolved or liberated we've become over the years, the little girl in us still equates being beautiful with being loved, or being worthy of love.
I've known a number of men who've underestimated the power of that simple little phrase and they've paid the ultimate price.
One was a friend of mine named Robert, who came from a family where no one expressed affection overtly, but instead teased other family members with supposedly well-meant insults.
So if one of the children achieved something special, perhaps a good grade in school, the parents would joke, "Who did you have to bribe to get that?" Then all the siblings would join in and poke fun at the child's achievement.
Robert grew up to be a charming and witty man, and was considered quite clever with "insult humor." He got along well with women, and was generally thoughtful and affectionate, but he rarely gave anyone an outright compliment.
When he fell in love with Rosa, he never thought to tell her she looked pretty or that a new haircut suited her. Instead he made 'funny' remarks like, "You look like Jiminy Cricket with your hair pulled back" or "You look like a frog in this picture."
Rosa accepted Robert's sense of humor as part of his personality, but inside she was hurt that he'd compared her to a frog and a cricket. Eventually she had an affair with a friend from work who thought she was beautiful and told her often, and after a time she and Robert went their separate ways.
Robert was devastated when Rosa left, but two years later he fell in love with Jenny. They shared a similar sense of humor, and in their lighter moments Robert often referred to her as Miss Piggy.
Jenny's constant battle with weight stopped her from objecting to his taunts, but she vowed to lose the extra pounds and one day earn his appreciation. Things didn't turn out as she'd planned.
Instead she fell in love with their next-door neighbor, Tim, a man who'd found her beautiful even at her heaviest and eventually summoned the courage to tell her how he felt.
When she married Tim a year later, Jenny was a radiant bride, in part because she felt beautiful in the presence of a man who had always perceived her that way.
When someone tells you you're beautiful, it affects your perception of yourself. You see yourself through their eyes and you begin to believe that you are that special person they see. Words are very powerful - they can uplift or they can tear down.
Some people rationalize their inability to praise by saying, "Oh, she doesn't need to hear that she's beautiful - she already knows that." Absolutely not true. Everyone wants to be admired and appreciated. We all love compliments, as long as they're sincere.
And as long as they're not given with an ulterior motive. This Valentine's Day, tell the woman (or man) in your life how beautiful you think they are. They don't have to be a movie star to 'deserve' this ultimate compliment.
Their beauty may be in the way they smile or laugh, the way they care about you, or the way they handle themselves in all kinds of situations. Take a few moments to really see them and identify that special quality that makes them beautiful to you. Then tell them. Don't be like Robert and create an emotional void for someone else to fill.
Be generous with your compliments this Valentine's Day - and every day. Loving words are far greater gifts than chocolates or flowers.
About the Author:
Marguerite Bonneville is a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) whose passion is publishing information online. She is a contributing writer at http://www.rosaflora-flowers.com, an online florist service which delivers flowers around Australia and across the globe.