It’s not grand romantic gestures or fancy gifts. It’s doing something small, but nice for your partner – like bringing them a latte! That’s the verdict from a huge study of nearly 200 couples.
Lead researcher Dr. Harry Reis says that doing small things for your partner is a form of "compassionate love." It means you put their needs and concerns above your own, and show them how much they’re appreciated. And it’s a win-win, because Dr. Reis’ research shows that when you’re compassionate with your partner, it boosts happiness levels for both of you. So, here are a few of Dr. Reis’ suggestions for providing compassionate love:
- Don’t judge them, accept them! You may think cracking jokes about how your girlfriend is obsessed with “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” is funny. But no matter how joking your tone is, they’ll feel attacked. Because we all know, there is always a nugget of truth in humor.
- Change your plans to help your partner. Say they want to get a haircut after work, or stay late to finish a work project, volunteer to skip your plans and pick up dinner.
- Express tenderness and caring by making their life easier and better. Say by surprising them in bed with a latte and bagel.
- Celebrate your partner’s success, big or small. Dr. Reis says a lot of couples only celebrate big events – like a promotion. But next time your partner scores big at game night, use it as an opportunity to show how much you admire them. Like “You knew the state bird of Texas? You’re officially a genius!” (It’s the Northern Mockingbird, by the way.)
- Say thank you. This is the number one way to show compassionate love. Study after study show that couples who thank each other regularly, for the small stuff, are happier than those that don’t.