To be a great friend or partner, we should seek to understand the type of reinforcement that means the most to those we care about. It's not safe to assume it's similar to our preferences, and the golden rule (treat others as you want to be treated) may not hit the spot.
I have one friend who lights up when they're asked good questions in an area where they're proficient. Another who wants to feel they're a nice person. One who needs lots of little acknowledgment, another who craves only occasional praise. And the target of the reinforcement is important, too.
People tell me all the time how organized I am. How on top of things I am. That's nice to hear but does not fuel me one bit. I had a reader tell me I was "wickedly inventive" and another said I had a terrific imagination. Hearing that felt awesome and energizing.
Sure, it has a lot to do with upbringing and we could judge that being needy in X way is wrong or a sign of low self-esteem. But who cares about whether what they need seems appropriate or excessive? They need it and we care about them.
My goal is to provide honest reinforcement BEFORE they ask for, or hint for, it (when concern/disappointment has started to bubble).
Humans are enigmatic, unpredictable, and chaotic beings who have lived and been shaped by a circuitous life. Amazingly talented and terrifically flawed.