How The 'Three As' Can Help You Feel More Fulfilled In Your Relationships

At the start of a romantic relationship, things seem to fall into place immediately. Everything with your boo is a breeze. You want to be around each other as much as possible and sexual attraction is usually at an all-time high. You likely only disagree in very polite, considerate ways and are putting in a consistent effort to impress them. In summary, you're both on your best behavior. This exciting period is otherwise known as the "honeymoon phase." And, unfortunately, it is indeed just a phase.


Keeping your relationship healthy in the long run requires work and upkeep. It's like a plant you purchase from the store. You get them in perfect condition. But to ensure they thrive and grow, you must give them water, sunlight, and soil. To keep your relationship just as magical and fulfilling, you need to nourish it with what Bridge Counseling calls the "three As." This refers to appreciation, admiration, and affection.

How to build appreciation and admiration

It can be easy to take your partner for granted as time passes. All the little things they do to make your day easier and more joyful can become routine or even expected. However, if your partner makes your life better, it's crucial to your relationship that you acknowledge this. In a study conducted by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that a primary indicator of a long-lasting, healthy relationship is the presence of gratitude. They reported that partners who were appreciative of each other were " ... more committed and more likely to remain in their relationships over time ...."


When you spend a lot of time with someone, you can get irritated and feel like they are pushing your buttons. But if these aren't serious, harmful causes for concern, you might be inhabiting a pessimistic mindset. When you feel this way, list all the things they've done for you in the recent week and recall the characteristics you admire about them. Remind yourself of their intentions and focus on growing compassion for their inevitably human imperfections. In doing so, you can redirect your thoughts to what you love about your partner.

How to show affection

The same study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that appreciation and admiration also impact how your partner shows up for you. They explain that gratitude is reciprocal, meaning if someone feels appreciated and respected by their partner, they are likely to be appreciative and respectful in return. However, to make your partner feel this, you have to make an effort to communicate it. This can be done through the third "A," affection.


Research shows affection issues are one of the leading reasons partners seek couples therapy. Affection is not one size fits all and is different for everybody. It could look like making your partner a yummy meal or complimenting them on their outfit. Learning your partner's love language is an excellent way to discover how you can best make them feel loved and cared for. And whatever you do, make sure to be consistent with it. If you only put in the effort when you mess up or are looking for something in return, it will not carry the same benefits to your relationship. However, by taking time to maintain your appreciation and admiration, you will have the motivation to show affection.