Love and Relationship

Building Intimacy Through Nurturing Fondness and Admiration

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Building Intimacy Through Nurturing Fondness and Admiration

Have you ever looked at an elderly couple who seem deeply in love with each other and wondered what the secret to their success is?

John Gottman and colleagues have spent years exploring the question of what accounts for success in long-term relationships.

According to Gottman, couples such as these are not happy because they never fought or have entirely compatible needs and interests, but because they took the time out to create a positive, enduring, intimate friendship.

Gottman’s work has spanned understanding communication and conflict resolution and has focused increasingly on the central importance of generating positivity in intimate relationships.

Based on his research, he generated 7 principles that are key to healthy relationships. I have also previously focused on three of these fundamental features of successful relationships.

These principles are elements of the seven principles that Gottmann identifies as the key to healthy relationships.

Let’s explore another one of these principles: nurturing fondness and admiration

Building Intimacy Through Nurturing 

Fondness and Admiration

We are all familiar with the first stage of a relationship where you are “totally head over heels in love” with your partner. You can’t get enough of him or her, you want to spend every waking (and sleeping) minute together, everything he/she does is adorable, and you have so much admiration for him/her. 

This initial stage of infatuation is characterized by intense fondness and admiration for your partner, but as any of us know who have been in a relationship for a little longer, that first phase starts to fade after about two years. 


What we used to find endearing can quickly become a habit that really irritates us. 

In fact, this phase alone is likely a primary reason as to why so many people have sought out relationship/marriage counseling. This initial phase is sustained and bolstered by romantic attraction and as it begins to fade the couple starts to view their relationship in a more realistic light. 

It is from this more realistic perspective that a foundational basis for the relationship going into the future can be built. That is not to say that romantic attraction is not a significant element of an intimate relationship nor that it is incompatible with building genuine admiration and fondness for your partner. 

However, the romantic attraction that sustains infatuation is just a phase in a relationship that waxes and wanes (more often wanes) over the course of the life of the relationship. 

So how do you nurture genuine fondness and admiration? How do you develop, sustain and express genuine fondness and deep appreciation of your partner?

Let’s start with exploring how you can develop fondness and appreciation for your partner. Adopting a conscious process of developing fondness and appreciation is essential to this principle. 

Fondness, a pure affection for your partner, needs to be rooted in an actual awareness of the qualities that generate this feeling towards your partner. 


Similarly, admiration that is simply loose and ungrounded in specific qualities lacks substance and may not weather the storm of challenges to the relationship. So, spend the time working out exactly what it is about your partner that nurtures your feelings of fondness and admiration for him/her. 

Complete statements such as “I love how you                   “, “I enjoy spending time with you because                   “, “I admire you because                   “and “I am proud of you when                   “. 

Take the time out to consider these questions in relation to your partner and make this active appreciation of his/her qualities a regular feature of your life.

Developing and sustaining fondness and admiration is only step one of this principle. In order to nurture a loving connection with your partner, it’s essential that you express the love and appreciation you have developed. 

Through sharing your affection with your partner, you express and actualise the feelings you have for him or her. 

Make this expression a discipline and regularly communicate the positive feelings you have for your partner. 

You may think that your partner is aware of the fondness and admiration you feel for him/her but openly expressing these feelings in as specific a way as possible (e.g. “I love the way you always kiss me goodbye in the mornings”) will only serve to nurture positivity and strengthen the relationship. 

Communicating your feelings gives a certain reality and maturity to the admiration, appreciation and affection that you feel, and has a positive cyclical impact on the relationship. 

A partner who is the recipient of fondness and appreciation is much more likely to be open in his/her expression of fondness and appreciation for the other.

Nurturing fondness and admiration is a core tool for generating positivity in a relationship. 

Nurturing fondness and admiration

The focus on positive interactions is the underpinning feature of Gottman’s understanding of relationship success. 

So, take the time to develop and express the positive feelings you have for your partner. Make developing and expressing fondness and admiration a part of how you interact with your partner on a day to day basis, and notice how it enhances the loving friendship you are building with your partner.

Author Bio:
Dr. Stacey Leibowitz-Levy is a highly-experienced psychologist with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and a PhD in the area of stress and its relation to goals and emotion. In addition to her private therapy practice, she currently runs a mental health guide with self-help guides on stress, anxiety, depression, and many other areas. During her spare time, Stacey enjoys spending time with her husband and children, being outdoors and doing yoga.

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  1. Sure the way to be. Have to keep working, nurturing and communicating.

  2. Interesting post dear! thanks for sharing xx

  3. This research sounds truly very helpful and YES I often look at elderly couples and admire just how connected they seem! :) x

  4. I am inspired by elderly couples who managed to make their last very long and full of love. Yan din ang gusto kong mangyari with my wife.