What is kindness in a relationship? (10 simple ideas)

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It’s simple: if you want a healthy and long-lasting relationship, kindness should be at its foundation. 

Having said that, kindness doesn’t have to mean grand gestures. Kindness in a relationship means consistent, random acts of selflessness and generally being generous, thoughtful and caring. Like many things in life, it’s the little things that count. 

Let’s face it, no relationship is perfect. As the honeymoon period ends, sustaining a relationship will take some consistent effort from both parties. 

Through it all, just remember to be kind. Do you need everyday kindness ideas? Just absorb the easy steps in this guide. Let’s jump in!

1) Listen!

Think about it, listening doesn’t require a big budget or a whole lot of effort. Paying attention and showing genuine interest in your significant other’s thoughts and feelings will go a long way. 

Sometimes it’s normal for us to get complacent and being consistently interested in the smaller details of our partner’s life tends to fizzle out over time, often making them feel neglected or taken for granted.  

Instead, make it a point to actively listen when your partner opens up. Even if their chatter isn’t initially appealing to you, show an interest by asking questions or giving thoughtful responses. 

More often than not, this means putting your device down and giving them your undivided attention. 

When you’re on your phone scrolling through Instagram as your loved one tells you about their day, it’s sending the message that you aren’t truly invested; that social media is more of a priority. 

This type of behavior tends to occur in longer term relationships, when the euphoria and novelty of a new relationship fades.

But if you want things to work out, then listen to your partner, making sure they feel heard. It’s small, subtle acts of kindness like this that separate the successful relationships from the rest. 

2) Always be gracious 

Over time, we might overlook the little things. Express gratitude for things your partner has done (or regularly does for you), both big and small. 

Don’t underestimate the power of words. A simple ‘thank you’ isn’t just a phrase, it’s a show of appreciation towards your partner and lets them know that their efforts are fully acknowledged. Don’t get complacent, make sure your partner feels appreciated. 

Meanwhile, if your partner has achieved something noteworthy, such as a work promotion or high test score, let him or her know how proud you are. This act of kindness in effect will make them feel secure and loved.

Showing kindness comes in countless forms, which brings me to my next point…

3) Cook up a storm 

Real talk: food isn’t just to feed the body, it’s an act of love. Let’s say your partner has had a long day at the office or is feeling stressed about making a deadline. 

There are few things as comforting as a home-cooked meal, particularly when it’s one of your favorite dishes. 

Making the effort of buying ingredients and cooking a meal will not go unnoticed. There’s nothing like food to say ‘I love you’ and show thoughtfulness.

Sure you can order in, but the fact is that a tasty home-cooked meal just hits different when in a loving relationship.   

To crank things up a notch, try to recall their preferences when it comes to food–maybe they like their pasta al-dente or their curry spicy. This will show an extra dose of kindness. 

4) Book a table 

Alright, so maybe you aren’t the world’s greatest chef or simply don’t have enough time to cook an elaborate meal. 

The next best option is to take your person to a pleasant meal out—this can be in the form of a posh restaurant booking or a quaint picnic at the park. 

Whether there is an occasion or not, both of the aforementioned options show effort and caring on your part. 

Going out of your way to do something special for your partner is synonymous with kindness and will likely do wonders for your relationship. 

5) Fight fair 

But let’s face it: it isn’t a relationship without the occasional fight. Couples butt heads about the most basic of daily activities. 

But sometimes, you just have to let the other person win. People get riled up for a variety of reasons–maybe they’ve had a bad day or are under a lot of pressure from the office. 

Realize that salvaging your relationship is greater than prolonging a petty fight. Let your pride down and let them take this one. It may not be easy in the heat of battle, but sometimes it’s necessary. 

Avoid name-calling and personal attacks, too. 

When my girlfriend and I get into arguments, I now revert to “I’m sorry, you’re right.” More often than not, this simple line diffuses tension, and soon enough, we’re laughing about the fight. 

There was a time when I’d fight back and let my anger and self-righteousness get the best of me. Now that I usually allow her to have the last word, when she eventually calms down, she thanks me for it. 

In the past, I’d give up on difficult relationships. When things got tough, I’d quickly throw in the towel. 

Without resilience, it’s extremely hard to overcome all the setbacks that come with love and relationships. 

An amazing resource I discovered was the free video by life coach Jeanette Brown. This has taught me resilience and clarity, whether in relationships or life in general. 

To learn more about what the secret to resiliency is and how it can improve your personal relationships, check out her free video here

6) Do them a favor

Here’s the thing, acts of service are one of the primary love languages for a reason. Small acts of generosity or thoughtfulness are the epitome of kindness.

Performing acts of service communicates how you care and want to help things get done. It communicates that you are a unit, a team, journeying through life whilst having each other’s backs.  

Let’s say you’re driving home from work and decide to pass by the grocery. Consider picking up your partner’s favorite snack or drink. This simple act of kindness will instantly improve their day as well as their admiration for you. 

In the five languages of love, an “act of service” is an effective method for communicating with your partner that you innately love and care for them. 

When they have a big day at work, have coffee or breakfast ready for them in the morning. 

Acts of service can extend to daily chores–particularly if it’s something he or she doesn’t like to do, like taking the dog out in the afternoon, cleaning the toilet, or washing dishes. 

Doing your significant other a favor can be obvious but sends a powerful message. Favors can come in many different shapes and sizes and in different gestures like the one I’m about to describe.

7) Be interested in their interests 

In my experience, showing interest in your partner’s hobbies or interests is a pivotal quality of a successful relationship

Whether it’s TV shows, books, sports, or music, being interested in your partner’s interests tells them that you’re also interested in them, both inside and out. 

A person’s interests are a bit of a reflection of who they are as a person. We all subconsciously know this. So ask questions, be curious (even if you have to fake it), and please don’t appear inconvenienced. 

In my previous relationship, I regularly viewed watching my ex-girlfriend’s favorite TV show with her as a tedious and forced chore–something I dreaded having to do, and I’d make that clear through my body language. 

My ex didn’t particularly like my hobbies or interests either, having to sit through a basketball game, no matter if it was a regular season game or the championship final, was something she flat-out refused to do. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t last long. 

Eventually, I learned that one of the key foundations of any successful relationship is compromise. 

In my current relationship, I make time to watch her favorite K-pop band with her on YouTube or listen to her feedback on a novel she just read. 

I know how much that means to her. So indulge your partner by investing your time with them when it counts. 

8) Be a rock during trying times 

Things are going well but be prepared for tougher times. In life, hardship is all but inevitable. Be your partner’s pillar of strength when things get difficult. 

Your partner may have lost their job, or a deal fell through or perhaps they even lost a loved one–at their lowest moments, show kindness by simply being there, and letting them know that they aren’t alone. Empathy and support are valuable assets in any human connection. 

Just the mere fact that you are physically present will already be comforting to your partner in itself. Maybe give them a foot massage or make them a cup of calming tea while you’re at it.  

A few years ago, when my beloved German shepherd Cali suddenly passed away, I was absolutely devastated and helpless. My girlfriend, who was vacationing abroad at the time, made it a point to video call me every night until she got home, sometimes for hours, to check in on me and let me know I wasn’t alone. 

I’ll never forget the kind gesture, and though I still miss my departed pup, my partner calling every evening helped me immensely in getting through this dark period.  

In a similar vein, if your partner needs encouragement and motivation, try to provide it. 

Compliment them and celebrate their achievements, providing constructive feedback when necessary. Encourage your partner, uplift and inspire them. Keep the nagging to a minimum and keep things respectful.   

9) Respect boundaries 

Speaking of being respectful, respect your partner’s need for privacy. Although you are in a relationship together, accept the fact that you are still two separate individuals. 

Avoid possessiveness and jealousy. Sometimes people need a sense of autonomy in a relationship which is completely normal. Don’t let your insecurities rule over you. 

Realize that not respecting your partner’s boundaries or privacy basically equates to controlling behavior, co-dependency, and all-around disaster. 

If your girlfriend or boyfriend wants dinner or drinks out with their friends, allow it–having that space and freedom should be non-negotiable in any relationship. 

Nobody likes to feel trapped or claustrophobic. Understanding your partner’s need to have a life is a display of self-confidence and kindness. 

My girlfriend, for instance, is a bit of an introvert. One of her primary outlets is her anonymous Twitter account, where she communicates with like-minded people throughout the world.

It’s clearly an important part of her life, and I’m fully aware that I’m not part of it. Although initially I was somewhat perturbed by this, I began to embrace that she is her own person, and that she should have a life and a space where she can vent and express herself independently, in ways that might be awkward with me. 

I now encourage her to pursue her social media life and other things, even when I’m not involved, if it ultimately brings her joy.

On the other hand, if your partner is stressed or angry over something, don’t try to invade their personal space and force them to cheer up on the spot. This will only annoy them further. 

Sometimes, people just want to be left alone, and eventually, you’ll learn that the basic act of respecting boundaries is an act of kindness in itself.  Be aware of people and their energies.

10) Touch is powerful  

Meanwhile, the simple act of touch provides comfort and intimacy and lets your partner know they’re valued. 

Touching can be as simple as softly tapping your partner on the shoulder while they’re watching Netflix as you saunter across the room. 

Holding your partner’s hand while walking in the mall or somewhere in public gives them a sense of safety and love, with a hint of possessiveness. 

Science has proved it: a hug releases stress, boosts memory, and lowers blood pressure. Make a concerted effort to hug your partner often, whether in the kitchen while cooking or saying goodbye in the morning. This is particularly relevant if your partner’s love language is physical touch.

The bottom line is that kindness is a beautiful thing. Being kind has the unique ability to make both giver and receiver feel pretty good. Whether it’s showing gratitude in daily activities or being their rock during tumultuous times, the virtue of kindness is absolutely crucial if you want a long and harmonious relationship.   

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

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