Girlfriend Discussion of the Week: Adoration

by Rachel on August 4, 2011

Every week, I have so many interesting conversations with my girlfriends about different aspects of life. OK, let’s be honest — the conversations are about different aspects of relationships. It seems like once I discuss it with one friend, I end up sharing the idea with all my other friends, so I’ve decided to start sharing them here so you all can join in the discussion!

This week’s topic is the topic of adoration. Leah brought this question to me after someone posed it to her: What do you think it would be like to have a boyfriend who “adores” you? We had a really good chat about the question, and the others it raised. Here are our thoughts…and then I want to hear yours!

What does even mean to be adored?

Rachel: I had actually been thinking about this very topic a few days earlier because my horoscope says that Leos have to be adored — showered with gifts and attention. My first thought is that my definition of adoration is happiness and excitement over giving attention and gifts. Then I thought about it further and realized that to me, adoration is how a guy talks about a girl when she isn’t around. We’ve all had that male coworker who gushes about his wife with that dreamy look in his eye — that’s what I think of as adoration.

OK, story time. My senior year of college, in my magazine class, we found out midway through the semester that one of our fellow students was engaged. “Engaged!” I said. “To whom?! I just realized I don’t know anything about your life!”

“That’s funny, Rachel,” he deadpanned. “Because we know everything about yours.”


“So tell us about her!” I said.

“Well, she’s great,” he said. “She’s…way out of my league.”

When he said that, it was just so sweet and genuine and it always stuck with me as the way a man should talk about a woman. It seemed like total adoration to me.

Leah: I think adoration looks different depending on the person. I think generally speaking, adoration is a physical or tangible demonstration of love. I don’t necessarily think it’s just what a guy says about you when you’re not around, but it’s also not just what he tells you to your face. It’s a combination of things — what he does, what he says to you and others, and his general attitude. My ex definitely “adored” me in the most basic way: he constantly told me how beautiful, smart, and wonderful he thought I was.

Is it possible or realistic for a guy to adore a girl?

Leah: While this was obviously fun for a while with my ex, I did start to wonder whether he was worshipping me more than adoring me. Does that make sense? Worshipping a partner isn’t necessarily a good thing. I think it’s possible, but I think you have to be open to the idea that your version of adoration and your partner’s may not be the same! Just like everyone speaks a different love language.

Rachel: I think it’s possible. Maybe that’s just the romantic optimist in me, but when I see my 70-year-old boss talk about his wife, I feel like adoration is possible. I don’t think adoration means giving a woman everything she wants all the time, but to me, it’s saying yes as much as possible. It’s always being excited about her, of thinking of her as beautiful, sexy, smart, loving, and kind, and being a little impressed by the things that make her who she is.

Leah: It seems like when a guy adores a girl, it’s seen as cute and romantic. But I do think there’s a double standard for women. When a woman openly “adores” a guy, whether it’s her boyfriend, husband, or just someone she has a crush on, it can be seen as crazy and obsessive. I know my first thought when a friend says something like “OMG, I just love my boyfriend sooooo much,” isn’t “Wow, that’s great!” but something more along the lines of, “I hope she isn’t getting obsessive or setting herself up for disappointment.” Total double standard!

Rachel: Ugh you’re right! And I think it should be mutual. A couple should adore each other!

Do you need to be adored? Does your SO adore you?

Rachel: Well, like my horoscope says, I need to be with someone who adores me! I felt like when we started dating, Eric was the guy who gushed about me to anyone and everyone, and I think that’s cooled off a bit. But his coworkers have definitely heard good things about me, which makes me feel like he talks about me adoringly to them. I’ve said before that showering me with gifts is important, as that is one of my love languages, and Eric is still working on getting that one just right. But I do still feel adored in other ways. When Eric mock-imitates me or calls attention to the little things I do that I didn’t even know he had noticed or was aware of, and he’s smiling about it with just that certain smile, I feel like he adores me.

Leah: It’s funny because I just asked my boyfriend this exact question. I asked, “Would you say you adore me?” After some thought, he responded, “Yes, but that’s not the first word I would use to describe how I feel about you.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. My boyfriend isn’t really the adoring/gushing/effusive type. Even when he surprises me with gifts/excursions, or verbally expresses his love, it feels more like commitment, loyalty, dedication, and a number of things more than adoration.

Do you adore your SO?

Rachel: I feel like I adore him when I find myself gushing to my coworkers about the funny conversation we had the night before. When I have to stop myself from telling another story about something funny that Eric has done or said, or going on to my mom about how well he’s doing at work, I feel like I’m adoring him.

Leah: Would I say I adore him? Asked point-blank, I’d also say yes. But the word somehow doesn’t seem to quite fit how I feel about him. Or maybe a better metaphor is that it fits, but there are other words that fit better.

Rachel: Oh, good way of putting it! And I don’t think it’s a bad thing that other words fit better in your case, because being adored isn’t the most important thing you need in a relationship. If you do want to be “adored” though, in the more gushy sense, I think it’s important to find someone who will do that.

Mmmkay….now it’s your turn to jump in. Join in the discussion in the comments or via your own blog (just leave a link below!). I’m excited to read what everyone has to say about this and other topics in the future!

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lynn T August 4, 2011 at 10:10 am

My husband’s not so effusive. (stop! Story time!) When we were first married, I once went several weeks without telling him I loved him; just to see if he’d notice. He was always the guy who said, “I love you, too” but never “I love you.” He didn’t.

We had a little “discussion” about it. It’s important to me, I told him. I need to KNOW that you love me, not just that you remember to respond when I say something.

“Hon, you’re like air to me. I don’t *think* about breathing, but believe me, I notice when I can’t. I don’t have to think about loving you, I just do. All the time. No matter where I am, or what I’m doing. It’s part of who I am and who I want to be. I’ll stop loving you when my heart stops beating and not a moment before then.”

I don’t play games anymore.

I just know.


2 Heather August 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

swoon. movie scene.


3 Stephanie August 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I “adore” this. :)


4 Manon August 4, 2011 at 10:14 am

Reading this made me dizzy :) It’s been a while since I’ve been adored, but I would say I feel adored with the little things….like how a SO looks at me, sweet gestures like cards for no reason, making me cupcakes when I’ve had a bad day, bringing me soup when I’m sick, or when his friends tell me how he raves about me when I’m not around. Ahhh…I miss those days….


5 Ellen August 4, 2011 at 10:24 am

Interesting post. Now my head is swimming similarly to when I read the 5 languages of love. I think 90% of the time I feel like my boyfriend adores me. However that being said, I relate to when you said this Rachel, ” I felt like when we started dating, Eric was the guy who gushed about me to anyone and everyone, and I think that’s cooled off a bit.” I think the cooling off takes time to get used, the settling of a relationship can be a hard adjustment. My love language, is quality time, and my boyfriend is currently going through a very stressful work period, meaning less time, which is difficult as well. I am now rambling, but thanks for giving me food for thought this Thursday morning.


6 Laura August 4, 2011 at 10:35 am

I think what makes someone feel adored is very similar to the love languages concept. Different people feel adored in different ways depending on what types of actions make them feel the most loved. For me I am a very physical person and so I feel the most adored when my boyfriend runs he hands through my hair or kisses me on the forward or the hand for no reason when we are just sitting watching TV together or talking.


7 Ashley Breton August 4, 2011 at 10:39 am

Wow, I can’t tell you how much I loved this post and how interractive it was and will be! First off, I definitely feel that my boyfriend ADORES me. We’ve been dating for almost a year and a half, and there are actual times where he says, “I adore you” randomly and he is obviously being honest and heartfelt. There are other times where we’re in a group of people or 0ut at a bar and he mouths, “I love you” to me randomly when he catches my eye. His family and friends at work are always asking about me, according to him, so that also shows me that he talks about me in an adoring way.

Now onto me… Just thinking about my boyfriend adoring me now gives me butterflies. Not because I’m lame or obsessed with him or us, but because I adore HIM as well. I find me having to stop myself bringing up a story about Scott when something reminds me of him in a conversation. I also still get giddy and excited when I plan on sleeping at his apartment for the night and that I get to wake up to him in the morning. When I’m doing mundane grocery shopping or running errands, I still find myself finding things for him that I know he needs.

It’s a good feeling being adored. I also love adoring.


8 Meghan B. August 4, 2011 at 10:52 am

I do think my husband adores me, and I adore him as well, but it is in a more private way. I think too much gushing makes the adoration a bit less special, in a way. When Kev says something adorable or hilarious and I turn around and tell my sisters, it loses something. It is no longer our private, inside joke. I’m really bad about keeping stuff to myself; the complete opposite of Kevin. So, since I know privacy is important to him, I’ve tried to do better. Sometimes I just can’t help it though!

I also think gushing should be restricted to certain people…you have to know your audience. A sorority sister of mine started dating (and is now married to) an AWFUL gusher. It is disgusting! “Isn’t XYZ beautiful?” “Can you believe how lucky I am?” “Isn’t she just the best woman you’ve ever met”? EVERY TIME. Enough already! Learn how to make conversation about something besides your “beautiful” girlfriend. And for the record, she isn’t even that pretty.


9 Emma August 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I totally relate to the privacy thing. This is a cheesy throwback, but I remember this line from Dawson’s Creek – Joey is talking to Dawson’s mom about her relationship with his dad, and she says something like, “I always knew there was something special about the way you guys looked at each other. Like you were in on this great little secret that the rest of us weren’t privy to.” I thought that was so romantic, and I like that Adam and I have our own language, and our own “secrets.” And while I *do* gush about Adam (probably too often), I also have a line, though I can’t say for sure where it is – there are just certain jokes, moments, and conversations that are ours, and ours alone. Sharing them would cheapen their specialness!


10 Kionda August 4, 2011 at 11:25 am

Great post! Adoring someone and being adored in return is a beautiful feeling. There is the fine line between being adored and being worshiped. That’s something I’d like to look into.

For me being adored is more in the body language then in the verbal. How one acts when thinking about the one they adore. It could be random smiles or chuckles. The vibes they are giving off are powerful. You just know that they are thinking of someone very special who they adore very much. When they are together they express it in the little things.


11 Rachel August 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Agreed! It is one of those things that you just so often know when you see!


12 Alison August 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I was in a relationship recently where a guy “adored” me. He wanted to spend lots of time with me, he promised me lots of things, he stopped hanging out with his other female friends (HIS idea, but I appreciated it) and proclaimed that he thought he could spend the rest of his life with me. It was overwhelming, and, I actually tried to put the breaks on it! But couldn’t because his feelings got hurt, and I was accused of being selfish and manipulative. Then, he stopped texting and calling as much, and he stopped giving me any kind of affirmation. It was like after he thought he had reeled me in, he was done. I wasn’t all that invested, and he was really hard to be with in the first place…so I just broke it off.

To me, REAL adoration isn’t overwhelming gushy stuff. Not gonna lie, I LOVE that stuff. But adoration is compromise and hearing my point of view. I feel adored when someone loves me and gives me affirmation, without challenging my boundaries. I feel adored over time, when I trust someone and see that they trust me. I feel adored when someone is consistent and giving. I feel adored when someone can simply hold my hand and kiss my forehead. I feel adored when someone’s actions, over time, match their words about me and the relationship.


13 Bess August 5, 2011 at 10:46 am

This is a great comment. I too, have been with guys who proclaimed to adore me very early on and were big on the “future talk” and for me it was off-putting. As with you, I am the kind of person who thinks true affection of this nature comes with time and I too find it very important that someone’s actions over time are consistent with their verbalization of feelings.

And I echo other commenters’ sentiments that it’s not always about the sweeping gestures but rather the little things.


14 Diane August 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I like what you said about feeling adored when Eric mock-imitates you or remembers little things. I’m a really observational person (sometimes it weirds people out, but I think it’s a good skill to know what kind of hot sauce your boss likes…) so I feel adored when someone remembers things about me as well. I like being playful and imitating people, so it’s huge when someone can banter right back.

One of my exes was all about verbal confirmation of his feelings, but he never made an effort to remember stuff about me. I guess one thing I learned from that relationship was that I feel adored when you remember my coffee order or how I like guys in fedoras, rather than when you just tell me I’m pretty/smart/etc.


15 Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic August 4, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I adored my ex and I definitely want my next bf to adore me too. Great discussion and I think you and I are very similar in what we want in a relationship.


16 Ashley August 4, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I would say my boyfriend adores me. He shows it by pointing out when he thinks
Im being funny..hes the only one in the world who finds me funny. he also tells his family about every good/interesting thing I do and I find that a showing of adoration. He always says he likes me the best when I am doing goofy things or dancing or singing to rap songs


17 Ariel August 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I know my husband loves me, and I love him very much in return, but something about the word adore rubs me the wrong way. It seems one-sided somehow, or superficial. I adore my cat, but I have a very different relationship with my cat than with I do with my husband.


18 Katie August 4, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I love this


19 Dori August 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm

When I started dating my current boyfriend (first revealing that to you now, I have a boyfriend!) I definitely felt like he adored me. I still do, but I am used to it so I notice it less. But I was not used to someone being so sweet to me ALL the time. I felt adored. And I adore him, so many things about him I could use the word adore for. And I often call him adorABLE. Adoration is different than love, different than affection, different than just liking a lot. And tt is a really, really nice way to feel — both being adored and adoring someone else.


20 Kali Ravel August 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Earlier, I was looking at the FB page of someone I haven’t been close to for a few years. She was gushing about her partner, and I thought it was sweet, but I also worried that she was setting herself up for a fall.

I realised, when I read this, that I wouldn’t think that way about a male friend, no. Why is that? Do I assume that men are less reliable than women, that they have more choices?

I’m taking part in a panel on Everyday (Feminist) Activism next weekend, and I think this is one of the points I’ll bring up. What does it do to our self-esteem, to have this embedded in our psyches?:(


21 Emma August 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm

First of all, great post, and even more, great feature idea! I am already looking forward to seeing what comes up in the Girlfriend Discussions.

As for adoration… Adam and I have never been the couple who says, “I love you,” every time we get off the phone; we had an implicit agreement that we wouldn’t overuse the phrase, long before we discussed it – for us, overuse feels as though it cheapens the sentiment. But we will often say things like, “I really like you,” or “I adore you” when we’re particularly lovin’ on the person (or, “I ADORE you,” if we’re *really* lovin’ on the person).

And when we say we adore each other, we mean that we really love each other and/or really think the other person is pretty much the best thing ever. For our relationship, worshipping and adoring are not the same thing; adoring doesn’t mean that we kiss the ground the person walks on, it means that we delight in walking next to each other on the same ground. Aside from the verbal confirmation, I agree that there are many nonverbal cues of adoration as well – when he kisses my forehead, or is proud of the work I do, or told someone else a flattering story about me.

I also totally relate to Rachel’s idea about having to stop from telling another funny story about Eric – I could seriously talk about how sweet/witty/smart/etc Adam is all day. So yes, I would say that I absolutely adore him.

As I was writing this, it occurred to me that Adam tends to say “I really like you” more, while I am more likely to say, “I adore you.” In our language, these mean the same thing, and I think his choice of wording likely stems more from the fact that ‘adore’ and ‘adorable’ are somewhat feminized words in our society – I think women just generally use them more than men, even to describe things like puppies – than anything having to do with his actual feelings.

Do I need to feel adored? I’m not sure. I agree with Leah’s point that “adoration” is not the first word that comes to mind when I think of our feelings for each other, and there are definitely other words that I would put at a higher priority than feeling adored – I need to feel respect, commitment, trust, and liked more than I need to feel adored.

At the same time, I really like Rachel’s “definition” – “It’s always being excited about her, of thinking of her as beautiful, sexy, smart, loving, and kind, and being a little impressed by the things that make her who she is.” That, yes, I need to feel that. And I believe that that sentiment, right there, whether you call it adoration or love or whatever, is what makes a relationship work (or, at least, is a very important part of making a relationship work) long-term.


22 Julia August 5, 2011 at 8:21 am

“For our relationship, worshipping and adoring are not the same thing; adoring doesn’t mean that we kiss the ground the person walks on, it means that we delight in walking next to each other on the same ground.”

Nailed it.


23 Hannah August 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I definitely adore my boyfriend! He’s sweet as pie, a future elementary teacher, loves kids and animals, and is soo patient and loving. Sometimes I just look at him & feel so fascinated by his kindness. I adore that!


24 Rachel August 4, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Ah, this was better than any magazine article I’ve read in a long time. I’m loving the discussion so far too!

I agree with you on the little things showing adoration i.e. teasing one another, loving one another despite the lil quirks, enjoying each and every moment together to the fullest and showing one another off to the world, in a non gushy way. For instance, when I met my boyfriend’s extended relatives for the first time the other day and they greeted me with hugs & kisses and already knew ALL about my life, I felt adored/important/special.

Special is a key word here. I think being adored is feeling special.

And yes, I 100% adore my boyfriend and continue to each and every day because he makes me happy, as mushy gushy as that sounds.


25 Lindsey August 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Love this post! It’s definitely something my girlfriend’s and I would discuss. I love the Five Love Languages reference. I think that you are going to feel the most adored when someone is speaking your primary love language, and vice versa. My love language is words of affirmation, so hearing something positive about me from the SO definitely makes me feel adored.


26 rachel August 5, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Me and my boyfriend kind of just got in a fight over this – he started getting so mushy that it was smothering me! We are reading the 5 love languages, and I am very much an “acts of service” and “gifts” , while he is a “physical touch” and “words of affirmation”. Talk about different! To me, when he starts getting so gushy and adoring, it kind of cheapens it- a girl can only be told how wonderful they are so many times a day before she either a)gets a huge ego or b) gets tired of it. Or, maybe that’s just me…I know it sounds silly to argue about him “loving too much”, but hey, every relationship is different. I would rather be told point blank that I am loved once a day than be told every 15 minutes.


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