How to show love and affection without rescuing or $pending

Often in CRAFT counseling, my clients have a goal to resist interfering with the natural consequences that their loved one is experiencing from their drug and alcohol use. One of the challenges is that these are usually very loving, generous, caring families and it can feel like they are withholding love and affection when they step back from rescuing their loved one from the latest crisis or trying to buy their way out of problems.

I found it very helpful over the years to ask my clients, "How else could you show love and affection without fixing her problems or buying him things?" The problem is that the most common response I would get to this question was, "What do you mean?"

In response, I eventually made a list just to get people thinking of their own answers to that question. It is very helpful to identify a few new ways to be your loving, affectionate self towards your loved one, even if you have decided that the old ways of showing your care is not working any longer (or maybe it never was working that well). As a bonus, if you are practicing CRAFT, you might refer to this list when thinking of rewards to use for encouraging healthy, sober, or treatment-seeking behaviors. 

How you can show LOVE and AFFECTION…

without fixing problems or buying things

1.      Give a hug

2.      Notice something that they did well

3.      Give a complement

4.      Ask for advice

5.      Laugh at a tv show together

6.      Express interest in their hobby

7.      Give a shoulder rub

8.      Smile across the table

9.      Make their favorite dinner

10.   Compliment their effort

11.   Stand up for them

12.   Send a card

13.   Bring them a cup of coffee in the morning

14.   Let them sleep in

15.   Ask questions to try to understand better

16.   Arrange a date night

17.   Cuddle

18.   Be genuinely curious

19.   Tell them why you are proud of them

20.   Invite them to a movie

21.   Speak highly of them in front of someone else

22.   Use an affectionate nickname

23.   Brush their hair

24.   Learn about their passion in something

25.   Give them a foot rub

26.   Reminisce together

27.   Celebrate a milestone

28.   Hold hands

29.   Sign up for a class together

30.   Book a vacation with them 

31.   Remind them of their strengths

32.   Give your full attention

33.   Be a cheerleader

34.   Go on a walk and just listen

35.   Invite them to try something new with you

36.   Exercise together

37.   Share a laugh

38.   Make them a gift with your own hands

39.   Slip in a sweet note in their pocket/purse/briefcase/backpack

40.   Say “I love you”

Lara Okoloko