After a long day, your partner notices your exhaustion and takes over cooking dinner. They serve you a delicious meal with a smile, thanking you for your hard work. How does that make you feel?

Image: A couple sitting together making eye contact and smiling, one with a laptop, while the other holds a mug. Photo by Surface on Unsplash

This is positive reinforcement in action! Learn how to use this powerful tool to strengthen your relationship.

Example of Positive Reinforcement

GIF: Jack Paralta, a character from Brooklyn 99, gives Amy Santiago a thumbs up.

Positive reinforcement is a key idea in psychologist B.F. Skinner's concept of "operant conditioning". Give your partner rewards or encouragement when they do things you like or want them to do more often.

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Let's say your partner remembers to do something you asked, like taking out the trash. You could thank them and show affection with a hug or a kiss. That's positive reinforcement right there!

Why Positive Reinforcement Matters

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Positive reinforcement strengthens relationships by showing appreciation for good behavior, which motivates your partner to continue.

Check out the TikTok below for an example of positive reinforcement using motivation:

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Remember to:

  • Nurture your partner's positive qualities by showing appreciation and giving praise. For example, if your partner helps with chores unprompted, you might say, "I appreciate your help."

  • Encourage growth and honesty for a stronger relationship, but avoid overdoing it. You might say, "I appreciate when you share your feelings with me. It helps us grow closer."

How to Implement Positive Reinforcement

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1. Identify the behaviors you want to reinforce, such as helping with laundry or tidying up after dinner.

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2. Be specific with your praise or rewards. Instead of saying, "Good job!" try, "Thank you for taking care of the laundry, it helps lighten the load."

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  1. Reinforce positive behaviors when you notice them.

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  1. Mix it up, and use different ways to show appreciation: giving hugs or kisses, or doing small gestures like leaving love notes.

Benefits of Using Positive Reinforcement with your Partner

Dwight and Michael from The Office, joyfully celebrating by raising their arms in excitement.

Positive reinforcement offers huge benefits for your relationship.

Improved communication: Positive reinforcement encourages open and honest communication between partners.

Two partners are smiling while covering each other's eyes with their hands, indicating affection and playfulness. Photo by Sam McNamara on Unsplash

Strengthened connection: Encourage good actions to make your emotional bond stronger and create a solid base for your relationship.

A man and a woman are smiling at each other while holding their phones, possibly sharing something pleasant. Photo by Hiki App on Unsplash

Increased happiness: Focus on the good parts of your relationship, and you'll feel happier and more satisfied.

Two hands are holding a heart together, symbolizing love and unity. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Building Stronger Connections Quiz

Lately, your partner hasn't been pitching in with chores around the house. Today, they surprise you by doing the dishes without being asked.

A man and a woman facing in different directions appearing unhappy or discontent. Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Which statement reinforces this behavior positively?

Option A: "Why did you decide to do the dishes today? Are you feeling guilty about something?"

Option B: "It's about time you helped out with something. Maybe start pulling your weight around here more often now."

Option C: "I appreciate you washing the dishes without me having to ask. That's thoughtful of you, thank you! "

Option D: "You did the dishes today, but what about all the other chores? One good deed doesn't make up for everything."


What's the best way to start this talk to help you understand each other better and make your bond stronger?

Take Action

Image: Silhouettes of a couple embracing tenderly under a colorful sunset. Photo by Oziel Gómez on Unsplash

Integrating positive reinforcement in your relationship establishes a more supportive, affectionate, and satisfying connection with your significant other.

Ways to build a positive relationship through reinforcement:


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