Great relationships require equal effort.

I don’t believe that any man should need a reason or a reward in order to do these things, but one thing is for certainOpen affection and communication in a relationship need to go both ways.

It is not often that you will come across articles or discussions about how men need or want to feel loved. We are ‘supposed to be’ less emotional, so many times our desires for affection go overlooked.

Regardless of how kind or easy going a man is, if he doesn’t feel loved, respected, and valued in a relationship — he will begin to slowly pull away from you. Why would he continue dedicating effort where it doesn’t feel appreciated?

Here are some phrases that will make him feel recognized:

1: “I’m proud of you.”

Good men strive to do right by their partner, friends, and family. They seek to provide and protect whenever they are able, and oftentimes make many sacrifices in order to do so.

What’s more, is that men aren’t always met with positive reinforcement. We can shy away from giving each other the pats on the back that we need because we get caught up in competition, rather than collaboration.

Hearing that the woman in our life is proud of our efforts, endeavors, and accomplishments — helps to make it all worthwhile.

2: “I love how you make me feel.”

Men take great satisfaction in satisfying the woman they love — emotionally and physically. We are willing to listen, learn, and take direction to be the best partner we can for you.

Knowing that we are doing something right is a confidence booster and will keep us eager to make you feel that way again. And again. And again…

Great relationships aren’t just built on how you feel about your partner, but also how you feel about yourself when you’re with them.

If the man in your life knows that his efforts are making an impact, he’ll be more inclined to keep them up. If not, he may think they’re going to waste, or misguided.

Either way, feedback is important to us. That’s how we learn and grow.

3: “I trust you.”

With all of the negativity floating around in the world today, it is much easier to keep ourselves guarded and not fully trust somebody. The truth is, though, that if a man does not feel trusted he will constantly feel insecure in the relationship. He will feel that you will be suspicious of everything he does or says, and that you will not fully open up to him about how you feel.

Obviously, this is assuming that he’s not given you a reason to distrust him. He needs to earn it, and then he needs to maintain it.

But once he does, he also needs to know he has it.

4: “You can trust me.”

Needless to say, trust goes both ways in a relationship. Both people need to fully have it in each other, and also consistently show their partner they can be trusted. Words of assurance, though, are always a good start to put someone at ease (assuming your actions back them up).

5: “Thank you.”

Whether it is something small like picking up your prescription down the street, taking you to dinner, or getting that coffee in the morning — these two small words go a long way.

True kindness is never given with the expectation of a return or a reward — but an absence of such over time will eventually lead to feelings of resentment and being taken for granted.

6: “I respect you.”

As men, one of the things we value most is being respected. We want to be respected by our friends, by our colleagues, by our family, and definitely by our significant other.

As important as respect is outside of a relationship, it also pairs up with trust as the cornerstone of love. Without these aspects, true love cannot exist.

When you both respect each other in a relationship, it means you respect their viewpoints, opinions, and insight. You cannot build a foundation, nor a life, with someone who you do not fully respect.

7: “I support you.”

Whether we are working on a new business, starting a new gym routine, taking a new class, or undertaking any other venture in life — knowing that we have the undying support of the woman we love will make us feel like we always have a safety net for when things get rough.

A good man should be your support system in life and love, and will be hoping for the same in return.

8: “I appreciate you.”

This goes beyond the ‘thank you’ point, because appreciating someone for the person that they areis on a different level than appreciating things that they do for you.

Any man who strives to improve your life — and his own — without you having to ask, is worthy of appreciation. If he is kind, caring, respectful, and honest — that is worth recognizing.

If he doesn’t feel like you appreciate the man he’s worked to become, he will feel alone and confused.

9: “You look handsome [or whatever your compliment of choice].”

A good man should always be reminding his woman how beautiful he thinks she is (as well as complimenting her on non-physical traits of course), but it is also a great feeling for a man to be told he is handsome by someone he cares about.

For those of us who do put effort into our appearance and don’t just toss on a t-shirt and jeans to go out to dinner, it is appreciated when our efforts are noticed. You’ll see him walk a little taller and carry himself with a little more confidence for the rest of the day.

10: “I can really see the difference!”

Men get down on themselves about their bodies, too. We all want to have better abs or a more defined chest. We want to feel like we can protect you, and ourselves. We want to feel strong. We want to feel like men.

When we do put in the effort to start eating better and working out, we are hoping it gets noticed. But, not just by anyone — by you. Telling us that you can see an improvement (no matter how small) from our efforts will reinforce us and encourage us to continue along our path.

Staying motivated is not easy, and progress is a long road. It’s human nature to be our own worst critics and insecurities are very difficult to erase.

If we know that the work is paying off, it will keep us striving towards our goals.

11: “I want you.”

There are many times when the man is the one to initiate physical contact in a relationship. Whether it be by a verbal comment, or touching you in a certain way. But there are times where we wish you would take control and make the first move. We don’t want to feel like we are always initiating intimacy, because we may start to wonder if you are actually attracted to us and are just complying to make us happy.

We want to feel wanted, too — but not just by anyone — by the woman we love.

12: “You can tell me anything.”

It is no secret that many men are not the best communicators.

They may keep things inside for multiple reasons. Maybe they are nervous about how you will react, maybe they are not great with words, or maybe (and most likely), they just never grew up thinking it was okay that they share their feelings.

Either way, it will put him at ease knowing that he is able to open up to you, be uncensored, and say what he truly feels without you getting mad or upset.

Side note: If he does finally open up about his feelings, responding with judgment, anger, or criticism will quickly cause him to shut down again.

13: “You make me happy.”

Simple, concise, to the point.

Any gentleman who is in a relationship will be striving to be a source of happiness in his woman’s life.

If he is — make sure he hears it from you.