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Published on August 9, 2019

How to Love: 14 Ways to Be a More Loving Partner

How to Love: 14 Ways to Be a More Loving Partner

Most people mistakenly think that love is a feeling. Here’s the thing, they have it all wrong.

“You mean it’s not?” Gasp! “But when I see him, I feel butterflies, my heart flutters, and my knees buckle. If that’s not love, then what is it?” Those may be physical feelings, yes, but those feelings don’t amount to genuine love.

In order to be more loving, you have to understand what love truly is. It’s not just a feeling. It’s a Commitment. It’s an Action. It’s a Decision.

Those initial feelings–the butterflies, the heart flutters, and the buckling knees, are all part of “falling in love.” It’s like a knee-jerk reaction. It’s not planned, and it doesn’t last. It’s a short honeymoon period that ends if the relationship lasts for any length of time.

It’s understandable why we’re confused about love. Hollywood has put a spell on us. They have us believe that two people can fall in love in hours (look at The Sun is Also a Star ); or days (look at Titanic), or through emails (look at You’ve Got Mail), and a host of other spell-binding ways. But that’s not true love!

True, genuine love begins after the spell wears out, after the honeymoon ends and real life begins. This is great news! If we know that actually loving someone starts at the end of the buckling knees, then we’re prepared, we don’t give up. We don’t think, “Oh, no, it’s over! My heart doesn’t flutter anymore, and the butterflies? What butterflies?”

If you’re currently in a relationship that you feel is circling the drain, or one in which love has flown the coop, or so you think, then you’ve got a nice surprise coming. It doesn’t have to be over!

Read on and learn some of the doable ways in which you can learn how to love — become more loving, win your partner back, and enjoy a satisfying relationship. Once you know what genuine love looks like, it will be easy to implement.

You might be thinking, This is too good to be true. And that’s fine, you can’t always help what you think.

But here’s the thing, it isn’t too good to be true. You can become a more loving partner by applying the following suggestions to your relationship.

Are you ready to become a more loving partner? You look ready to me. Let’s go!

1. Commit to Your Relationship

Decide that you are going to be in the relationship; that you are going to work toward its growth; that you will nourish it to the best of your ability.

Without that commitment, you don’t have the necessary foundation to build a loving relationship. That is why this first step is crucial.

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If you have that commitment, read on.

NOTE: It’s never too late to make a decision to commit.

2. Invest Time

The workaholic who works 60 hours a week might say, “I love my family so much. I’m working hard to provide for them.” That’s not love. Remember, love is not a feeling; it’s not words. It’s an action that you decide to take.

M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book, The Road Less Traveled, states,

“…love is an action, an activity.”

One of the most important ways to demonstrate love is to spend time with the person you love. After all, time is our most prized possession. You show someone you love them by spending quality time with them.

If you want to become more loving, find time every day to connect with your loved one. You can do this with a text, a phone call, or a lunch date. Be creative.

3. Communicate Your Love

There are countless and effective ways to do this. When my husband notices I’m in a hurry, he makes the bed for me in order to give me a few additional minutes in the morning. If I run out of a certain food I love, he stops at the store to pick it up; he saves the last of anything for me. If he never said the words I love you, I would still know he does. Clearly, his actions are speaking loudly.

Find ways to communicate your love through action. Bring home a treat, do the dishes, make dinner, leave a note in his favorite coffee mug, etc. Before he leaves for the gym, my husband takes off his chain and sets it on his nightstand. When he’s not around, I shape the chain into a heart and leave it for him to find. It always puts a smile on his face when he does. You get the idea.

As a writer, one of my favorite guidelines is, show, don’t just tell. By doing this, the writer provokes a reaction from their readers, helps them feel the emotion the character is feeling. This works in real life as well.

Take an action, however small, that SHOWS your partner you love them.

4. Be Spontaneous

Relationships can fall into ruts. Years together can dull the excitement felt in the beginning when everything is new. It doesn’t have to stay that way.

Spontaneity can liven any relationship. Imagine yourself walking into the kitchen, wondering what to make for dinner, not feeling like cooking at all. Suddenly, your husband walks in and says, “Take off that apron, I’m taking you out to dinner.” How would you feel? I don’t know, but I’m guessing you’d want to jump for joy.

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Or you come home, see your partner sitting in front of the TV and say, “Let’s go, I’ve made reservations at a great Air B&B. Pack your bags.”

Spontaneity adds a thrill to any relationship. Try surprising your partner this week!

5. Acknowledge the Thoughtful Things Your Partner Does

One of the ways to be a more loving partner is to acknowledge all your partner does for you. You might be taking your partner for granted and not even realizing it.

Do you thank them for doing the laundry, walking the dog, making dinner, doing the dishes, working out, replacing the soap and shampoo before it runs out, etc? There are a million little things that keep a home going, and it’s easy to forget that someone is doing it. Acknowledge it.

My husband had just taken a shower one day when he said, “Thank you! I never have to worry that I won’t have shampoo, or soap. It’s always there. I really appreciate that.” I felt warm and fuzzy after hearing that. It made me feel very appreciated. Your partner will too.

6. Be Supportive

When I decided to go back to school to become a therapist, it would mean a great deal of sacrifice. I would eventually have to quit my job; come up with tuition money, and devote time for studying. My husband said, “You’ll make a great therapist. We’ll make it work.”

When I decided to write The Healing Alphabet, 26 Empowering Ways to Enrich Your Life, my husband said, “I can’t wait to read it. People will love it.” When I decided to cut my long hair, my husband said, “You’ll look really cute with short hair.” He has been supportive throughout our 33 years together. That support demonstrates his love.

In what ways can you be supportive to your partner? Maybe it’s supporting a hobby they have, or wishing them a fun girl’s day out, or being there for every music recital, etc. When you’re supportive, your partner will feel like they can’t fail. It will provide the encouragement they need to keep going and have fun at the same time.

7. Provide Space

Clinginess can ruin a relationship. Too much of anything can be deleterious to its survival. Yes, it’s good to spend time together. In fact, I recommend it, but it’s also good to find a healthy balance.

Providing space means you allow your partner to express himself/herself in the way they enjoy. Allowing your partner time with friends and family is important. You don’t have to be by their side 24/7. In the article 10 Signs You’re in a Healthy Relationship by Scott Christ, he writes,

“We all need time to explore, reflect, and express ourselves individually.”

Create a space for your partner so that they can express their creativity. Let them be them without you. Remember, they were someone long before you came along.

8. Take the Good with the Bad

A good relationship takes a lot of work. The day you married your partner, you probably thought you’d hit the jackpot by marrying the most perfect being on this earth. That day, you didn’t think about the fact they kept you awake snoring, laughed like a hyena, scratched the wrong places in public, chewed with their mouths open, and who knows what else. You were just thinking about the trip to Bora Bora, how beautiful she looked in the dress, how handsome he looked in the tux, and what pretty babies you’d eventually have…

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But like I mentioned earlier, the honeymoon will end. It always does. And then you’re left with the real stuff: the smelly socks on the floor, the dirty mugs in the sink, the crumbs on the kitchen table, etc.

Of course, I’m painting a bad picture. Maybe none of this has happened to you, and after 15 years you still feel like you hit the jackpot. Congratulations!

For the rest of you, understand that there’s no perfection. It doesn’t exist. Yes, your partner is going to annoy you. You probably annoy your partner. If you want to be more loving, look past the imperfections. Find a way to see it as quirky. It’s part of who they are, what makes them them. According to Jeff Auerbach, Ph.D, in his book, Irritating the Ones You Love, he writes,

“We may not be able to change who we fundamentally are, but we can do the best that’s possible with what we have.”

And that goes for both people in the relationship. Neither one of you is perfect. Be more loving by accepting the not so appealing, and bask in all the goodness they do provide.

9. Avoid Put Downs

Here’s the thing, when you’re in a relationship, you pretty much know everything about your partner–the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s easy to resort to put downs when you’re angry and upset about something they’ve done.

For example, let’s suppose they’re late for a movie. It happens. Don’t start in with, “Late again?! Jeez, you’re never on time, you moron!” Or, “No wonder your parents are disappointed by you!” Or “It’s a pleasure to meet the poster child for lateness!” And on and on.

What are you trying to accomplish? It certainly doesn’t sound like you’re having a constructive discussion. It actually sounds like a war in progress.

We have enough strife in the world. Don’t allow it to infiltrate your home. Speak with respect. Let love be the motivator, not pettiness.

10. Be Willing to Compromise

Relationships are partnerships. Often, one or both of the people involved forget that; they’re a little too self-absorbed, always wanting what they want when they want it regardless of how their partner feels.

Since all relationships require some form of compromise to be successful, the couple has to work as a team. It’s always a give and take; a quid pro quo; a back and forth between the people involved. “Hey, since we saw Shaft last week, how about we see A Dog’s Journey this week?” Both people are willing to give in to make their partner happy, even if they have to sacrifice a little bit.

A willingness to compromise can go a long way in creating happiness and feelings of well-being in the relationship.

11. Tell Your Partner 3 Things You Love About Them

My husband and I attended a couple’s seminar years ago. One of the exercises we were asked to perform was to walk around our partner while they sat in a chair, and tell them all the things we loved about them. It was an amazing experience. The focus was to be only on the good, on what you loved about them, what you admired, respected.

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As the exercise progressed, the partner reciting all the compliments was reminded about why they were with that person to begin with. It was very powerful, and the feelings created from the exercise lingered for days.

12. Listen

You might think you’re listening, but next time your partner is talking, pay attention to your thoughts. What are you thinking? Are you really listening? Are you formulating your answer? Have you tuned out? True listening requires a great deal of effort, but it is a gift to the person who is feeling heard.

When you truly listen, the other person feels valued, important, like they matter. And isn’t that a gift you want to give your partner? It doesn’t cost a thing, but the dividends are priceless. True listening is the encapsulation of love.

Tonight, ask your partner a question, then really listen. Don’t get discouraged if your mind wanders for a spell, bring it back and re-focus. Your partner will sense your attentiveness and be ever so grateful.

13. Drop Old Issues

It might sound crazy to bring up past issues and hurts while in an argument, but couples do it all the time. It’s not uncommon for a partner to say, “Remember when you broke that vase and you said you’d replace it and you never did? You’re just as clumsy as ever!” The partner stares dumbfounded. “But that was 17 years ago! Why are you bringing that up now? Just because I accidentally dropped your cup and broke it?” You can see that this can quickly escalate.

There is no reason to bring up the past. Ask yourself: “What’s the point? What am I trying to accomplish? Am I trying to fix the problem or make it worse?” Old issues have no place in the present. Let them go. Concentrate on the here and now.

The bottom line is: make your relationship stronger, not weaken it.

14. Love DOES Mean Having to Say You’re Sorry

In the 1970 film, Love Story, written by Erich Segal, there’s a scene in which Jenny, played by Ali MacGraw, says to Oliver, played by Ryan O’Neil, “Don’t, love means never having to say you’re sorry.” I beg to differ.

People make mistakes. It’s good to apologize. Not just a fake apology, but a true, heart-felt apology. Apologies go a long way to repair a broken relationship. If you are in the wrong, say it. Mean it. Make sure the person understands that you are making amends.

You are not going to come off as weak if you say you’re sorry. Not only will you validate your partner’s feelings, you’ll gain respect. More than likely, your partner will say something like, “It’s okay. I know you didn’t mean that.” Make amends when you need to. Your partner will look at you with the loving eyes you crave.

Final Thoughts

Love is the most beautiful thing on earth. Being loving is the most amazing gift you can give. All the heart flutters, the butterflies in the belly, and the buckling knees, can’t replace genuine loving acts.

Don’t allow your relationship to be fed by simply stringing a set of words together. It takes a great deal more than that. It takes a Commitment, an Action, and a Decision. Done over and over again.

You have everything you need right here. It’s the start you need to make it to the finish line of your relationship. If your relationship has suffered an injury, implement the above tips for a week, a month. See what happens.

I see a second honeymoon in your future.

More About How to Love

Featured photo credit: Joanna Nix via unsplash.com

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Rossana Snee

Rossana is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She aspires to motivate, to inspire, and to awaken your best self!

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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