As human beings, we all seek validation to feel good about ourselves.
But when it goes beyond a certain limit, it can harm the relationship. It can be hard for you to deal with someone who needs constant validation.
Why do people seek validation?
It’s natural and reasonable for a person to seek recognition and acceptance of their choices, ideas, opinions, and achievements from those around them. It’s part of the interdependence among human beings. We rely on feedback and encouragement from those around us.
Being independent doesn’t mean a person doesn’t need validation. They would still need validation in at least certain aspects of their life. But they are better at self-validation and seek only limited validation from outside.
Those who find it hard to practice self-validation or cannot assign much value to it, tend to search for validation from others. They put the approval, opinion, and recognition of others above their own. They find it difficult to move ahead in life without external validation.
Validation is not about agreeing with the choices, ideas, and opinions of others and accepting them as your own. It’s about recognizing and accepting them as valid.
So, we come to the question – How to deal with someone who needs constant validation?
In this article, you will find a few suggestions to deal with those seeking validation constantly.
Ways to deal with someone who needs constant validation
Seeking validation as an interpersonal issue has grown enormously since the advent of social media. With billions of people across the world posting, commenting, liking, and sharing photos, messages, and links, the hunger for validation is like the genie that escaped from the bottle.
The absence of validation or an inadequate amount of validation can lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression. The person may get fixated on or addicted to hearing praise and being accepted and acknowledged every moment of their life.
Here are some tips to deal with the need for constant affirmation in others.
1. Give compliments and positive feedback
Whenever you see them doing something good or detect a constructive action or behavior, say it out aloud instead of keeping it to yourself. Be careful to be sincere with your words of praise and feedback. Or else, it may backfire.
You can inject more positivity into your constructive criticism and make them sound more like validation without being dishonest. Make them aware of your appreciation of their hard work. Let them know that you want them to do exactly what they are doing and keep up with it.
Whether it is compliments, feedback, or criticism, it is the words you choose, the tone of your voice, or your body language that decide if the recipient considers them as validation or not. You can disagree with them without invalidating them. Invalidating someone may lead to mental health conditions like borderline personality disorder. This is a fine line you need to figure out by yourself.
2. Don’t delay your validation
A delayed validation may miss the point altogether. Time is of the essence for the person receiving your validation. The delay in offering validation may lead to conflict and tension in your relationship with the person.
When you are too late with your recognition and acceptance, it may seem to the person as if you don’t care about them enough to give them your time and attention. So, even after validating them, you may be ineffective in the end. This can make them push you for more and more support and endorsements from you.
3. Help them in any way you can
When a person is seeking validation from you, it clearly means they look up to you and respect you. They believe that you have better knowledge and capabilities than themselves. Whether this is true or not, you can still offer to help them in whichever way you can.
Your offer of help is typically seen as a sign of validation by others. If you aren’t ready to validate the person’s views, you won’t be interested in becoming a part of it. However, be honest and direct in your approach Though this is not direct validation, it is equally effective for the person receiving it.
4. Learn to be an active listener
Let the person know that they can approach you without reservations. Make them aware that you are always there for them and always will be. And, you will always do your best to help them in any way you can.
Avoid telling them that problems don’t exist or things bothering them don’t matter much. You need to understand and accept that they are looking up to you for validation because it matters to them. So telling them that it doesn’t matter can further lower their self-worth and make them crave more validation.
Often, when a person wants to talk to you about their troubles, all you need to do is to be an active listener. You don’t even need to say anything. You can be a silent listener but absorb all that they are saying. This is one of the best forms of validation for the person.
You may not have answers or solutions to their problem. But you wholeheartedly empathize with their position and are ready to help them out.
5. Set boundaries, if need be
A person seeking constant affirmation can be draining and may not be easy to deal with. If you find it hard to manage a stable relationship with this person, you can always set up boundaries. There is no need for you to feel apprehensive about it.
Boundaries may relate to when they can approach you and what they can expect from you. Without these boundaries, things may get too overwhelming and stressed out for you. You may experience guilt, frustration, and resentment in your dealing with this person in the absence of boundaries.
For the person approaching you for validation, it can be even more frustrating when they see you struggle with their demands. But be careful not to set negative boundaries. Instead of saying “no”, reframe the same statement with a positive tone.
Final thoughts on dealing with someone who needs constant validation
Make yourself available to them whenever you can. Be approachable and supportive. Let them know that you care. Ask them open-ended questions to get them to talk about their problems. Don’t give them the impression that you can solve their problems and make life easier for them. Offer them guidance and motivate them to work hard towards achieving their goals.
However, be careful when dealing with them. Don’t allow them to exploit and manipulate you. If you feel that they are going overboard with their fears and anxieties, give them a reality check. If their demands are taking a toll on you, don’t hesitate to give them a warning or an ultimatum. After all, your health and well-being should be your topmost concern.
People may seek validation from you for a variety of reasons, but the primary objective is to feel good about themselves. When you have to deal with someone who needs constant validation in relationships, it would be helpful if you know the exact reason. So that you can plan your behavior accordingly.
A person seeking validation can be a major source of stress for you. You need to figure out ways to make them stop seeking validation in relationships. Learn to handle them the right way, or else they can ruin your life as well as theirs.