24th September 2023

5 A’s of Love: How to be in Adult Relationships

5 A’s of Love: How to be in Adult Relationships

How to be an Adult In Relationships

What comes to mind when you think of being an adult in relationships? For some people, it could mean feelings of closeness, intimacy, and attraction toward their partner. For others, maybe it’s paying bills together, buying a house, or sharing a schedule.

The truth is that there’s much more to adult relationships than the superficial feeling of love we experience when we look deeply into our partner’s eyes. Being an adult in relationships requires a good amount of effort and sacrifice on your part so you can be the loving person you should be. And, most of the time, the love you will want to give and receive needs a little reality check.

One of the best ways of improving your relationship is to always be intentional about your love. Enter the Five A’s of love.

  • Attention
  • Acceptance
  • Appreciation
  • Affection
  • Allowing

These concepts are derived from the book How To Be An Adult in Relationship: Five Keys to Mindful Loving by psychotherapist David Richo, Ph.D. The Five A’s of Love refer to vital qualities for a child to get from their parent, guidance, or anyone they rely on to nurture them and make them feel secure.

When these qualities aren’t present, we equate that to relationship trauma and emotional neglect. Children not receiving enough of these qualities often experience anxiety, shame, or depression. Interestingly, according to the book, we’re never to grown not to want the Five A’s. In fact, we crave them in a relationship.

What are the five A’s of love?

The “five A’s of love” concept was created by psychologist and author David Richo to aid individuals in understanding and enhancing their close relationships. The five As are focus, admiration, acceptance, affection, and allowance. You can better yourself and your relationships by putting even a handful of these ideas into practice.

In numerous of his books, David Richo stresses the need of emotional stability and self-awareness in forging strong ties between individuals. Additionally, he uses the Buddhist idea of “mindfulness” as a key tool for uniting individuals and enhancing their sense of belonging.

The first “A,” “attention,” refers to a condition of being fully present in the connection’s present moment. The second A, acceptance, involves validating and accepting your partner rather than expressing judgment on them. The ability to acknowledge and cherish your partner’s favorable traits is represented by the third “A,” which stands for “appreciation.” The fourth “A” stands for “affection,” which is the physical expression of love and care. It is the fifth A to accept. It includes letting go of all attempts to control the relationship and having confidence in its natural development.

The implications of traumatic childhood events and the concept of attachment on adult relationships, particularly anxious attachment patterns, are extensively discussed in David Richo’s books. He contends that in order to improve your life quality and have satisfying interactions with other adults, you must be aware of and deal with these underlying problems.

David Richo’s books include in-depth explanations and pictures of these topics in addition to easily accessible, high-quality photos and comments. Additionally, he talks about the key principles you need to know to build successful relationships and the part emotional intelligence plays in making them last.

Overall, David Richo’s “five A’s of love” provide a useful framework for comprehending and enhancing relationships throughout life as well as for achieving the emotional closeness and connection required for a contented and financially secure existence.

When we receive the Five A’s of love in relationships with our significant other, we have fewer chances of developing depression, stress, and anxiety. We also become much closer to our partners. Here’s an overview of what these qualities mean:


When you give someone attention, it means you intentionally listen to them, focus on what they want to tell you, and then engage with them. It doesn’t simply mean you open yourself up to hearing their words, but listening to their experiences, acknowledging their feelings, and actively seeking to hear and understand their words.

When you offer your significant other this part of you, the attention they get from it makes them feel understood, respected, and that you care about them. Before you give any response to them, it’s important that you also understand how your actions or words may impact them.


We all seek approval and acceptance in different ways. When you’re seeking to be an adult in a relationship, you have to show that your actions and your words are affirming of the approval you have of your partner. It matters that you’re accepting of who your partner is, the choices they make every day, the lifestyle they’ve chosen to live, their beautiful personality, and the values they hold without any judgement.

handwritten words on a blue surface

When you seek to accept your partner, you encourage a deeper level of intimacy in your relationship. There’s space in the relationship for each of you to be who they are, and share ideas, feelings, and thoughts without facing the possibility that their partner may reject them for it.

When you accept your significant other as they are, you’re telling them that you have no space to abandon them, reject them, or make fun of them simply because of who they are. In a way, you’re encouraging the emergence of a self-confident partner that feels secure within the relationship.


Remember to show appreciation to your partner as often as they can for everything they do for you or the relationship. Don’t forget to use words of appreciation like thank you, or I appreciate you for everything your partner does for you. Make sure you also appreciate them for all the qualities they possess that you admire.

If they’ve been doing something every day that positively contributes to your day, say thank you. If your partner takes an interest in your activities of the day, send an appreciation message. If they maintained calm in a situation where they would ordinarily freak out, it’s ok to appreciate them for it. It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant the action seems, showing your partner appreciation for something they did is a huge game-changer.


Contrary to popular belief, affection for your partner isn’t all about displaying physical closeness. You can also show your partner affection through how you talk to them, how you ensure that your presence is always available, how you talk to them, and your gestures towards them. When you’re affectionate with your partner, you can be romantic, thoughtful, playful with them, and reassure them with kind words.

Some of the best ways you can show your partner affection include giving frequent kisses or hugs, cuddles, and speaking out words of affirmation. This not only shows that you’re available to your partner, but it also demonstrates that you are wholly committed to them and the relationship.

Read here: How to be Affectionate in Relationships: 11 Tips and Tricks


When you allow your partner, you offer them space to be who they are. One of the most important aspects of a relationship is to give your partner the freedom to do what they’re meant to do in their own unique way. Manipulation, coercion, and control only seek to drive your partner away so it would be best to avoid such actions.

However, it would help if you remembered that this doesn’t mean you welcome and accept behaviors that could potentially harm you physically, financially, or emotionally.As we mentioned earlier, no one grows past the need to receive the Five A’s of love. We require and crave this love as children because this is what makes us feel secure and free enough to grow into unique human beings separate from our parents’ identity.

The truth is that many of us lacked something growing up. As a result of the lack of the Five A’s, we frequently, as adults ruin and sabotage our relationships by allowing our controlling nature, demands, and jealousy to take center stage. Sometimes, we may also choose to be in relationships that feel ‘familiar’ because that’s what we received during childhood, and the cycle of yearning for attention, appreciation, acceptance, allowing, and affection continues.

No matter how hard we try or grow, we always want to receive the Five A’s in our relationships. However, remember that simply because you didn’t have them in your childhood doesn’t mean you can’t have them in your adult relationships. All you need to do is identify where your strengths lie, and what your weaknesses are, and use the Five A’s to build on that.

In his book, the Five A’s of love, Richo delves into the real meaning of love and offers a fresh point of view on how we should handle our relationships. According to the book, being in an adult relationship is not about finding the perfect partner, but considering oneself so one can be more realistic and loving.

Richo has borrowed ideas from the Buddhist concept of Mindfulness and delves deeper into the Five A’s of love and their importance in all our relationships. If you’re wondering how to change your relationships or grow them positively, we recommend reading How To Be An Adult in Relationship: Five Keys to Mindful Loving. Delve into the book and discover new and refreshing ways of exploring love and relationships.

About Author

Johan Froentjes

A veteran writer for relationship content who uses academic research to write articles and provide expert insights.

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