What makes love thrive?
What makes love and relationships not just survive but thrive?
There are tons of books offering relationship advice on how to choose the right person, how to communicate with them once you finally find them, how to argue, how to build trust, and so on.
A lot of these books give great practical advice and I read them regularly. There’s probably not just one simple answer to my question but you know what I think is key? In one simple word- selflessness.
Being selfless in a relationship basically means focusing on your self less and focusing on your partner more. This can be scary at first because no one wants to be used or taken advantage of. We also don’t want to feel neglected or forgotten in a relationship.
If you’ve been reading what I write for a while now then you know I’m a big advocate of self-care and self-love.
I believe in it. I encourage others to do it. I practice it myself.
So advocating for selflessness may seem conflicting but selflessness does not preclude self-care. Actually, it can be a form of it.
Studies show that the happiest relationships AND happiest individuals are those that prioritize caring for the other. Participants in these studies had an overall increase in their sense of happiness and well-being as they cared for and supported their partner. However, there is a limit. Their sense of happiness began to decrease if they cared for someone at the expense of their own needs.
So I’m not saying put your partner first and neglect yourself. But I believe that when you put your partner first and they focus on doing the same for you, relationships fully thrive. This approach can help couples avoid so much conflict.
It’s important to note that this selflessness can’t be based on reciprocity though. So you don’t care for your partner and keep score. You simply care for them, serve them, love them, consider them. And, ideally, they are doing the same. Sometimes you’ll do more and sometimes they’ll outdo you. That’s the goal.
“Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another. Love always has the good of another in view. Love is motivated by the interests and needs of others. Love is excited at the prospect of alleviating burdens and meeting needs. Love feels poor when the loved one is poor. Love suffers when the loved one suffers. Love wants the best for the loved one and works to deliver it.” - Paul Tripp