Underscoring whatever talents, personality traits, professional status, beauty or charm a potential partner may have, perhaps the trait that matters most in enduring relationships is kindness.elephant and dog sit under the rain

How often do we openly acknowledge this? How many dating sites match for this? How few of us consciously consider kindness in self or the other as the key to loving and lasting connection?

Spurred to this thinking about this by Ken Page’s book, Deeper Dating, I began to consider how often in my clinical work with couples over many years, kindness was the net that buoyed a couple in devastating and troubled times or was actually the unrecognized deal breaker in a marriage which began with the expectation of Happily Ever After.

Depending on your source, kindness is defined as the quality of being gentle and considerate or the quality of being friendly generous and considerate. I think we rarely identify kindness as a crucial factor in relationships because kindness moves under the radar as a qualifier that shapes what we say and do.

If you are a kind person or strive to be one, you will feel the kindness in another in concert with their physical strength, self-confidence, intelligence, beauty, sense of humor, social skills, anger, creativity, and even risk taking. True kindness has staying power that does not demand recognition or applause. True kindness makes a person’s gifts and talents – gifts to share.

In the dating world, kindness or consideration of the other can often be mistaken as weakness or self-denial. Consider the subliminal messages that impact us from non-stop media sources. We have been conditioned to believe that you need to be tough, perfectly built, aloof, brilliant and beautiful to be loved and happy.

How often have you seen an advertisement match a place or product with kindness as an implied source of happiness, self-esteem or loving connections?

In reality, researchers like Sonja Lyburmisky, author of The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, find that being kind makes you and others around you happy.

According to Nathaniel Branden, “The higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.”

For Kahlil Gibran “Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”

While it is not likely to be the most obvious characteristic you notice when meeting someone new, kindness is an enduring quality to strive for in self and recognize in others.

What Does Kindness Look Like in a Partner?

  • A kind partner will lighten the other’s burden in big and small ways even when not asked.
  • A kind partner makes a gesture of love or concern in the face of the other’s emotional stress.
  • A kind partner may disagree but never demeans the other.
  • A kind partner is a compassionate presence.
  • A kind partner listens even when tired.
  • A kind partner is appreciative of the other’s efforts.
  • A kind partner takes a stand without deprecating the opinion of the other.
  • A kind partner applauds the beginning steps of the other, even when they have no interest in the endeavor or excel in it.
  • A kind partner is kind to a partner’s family, friends and pets.
  • A kind partner continues to make efforts in small ways that may not be noticed.
  • A kind partner’s generosity is not conditional.
  • A kind partner affirms their partner’s generosity even when it takes time away for them.
  • A kind partner welcomes affection and intimacy.
  • A kind partner can accept a “No” to affection and intimacy.
  • A kind partner can say “No” in a way that still leaves the partner feeling loved and desired.
  • A kind partner helps the other pick up the pieces of mistakes without blame and condemnation.
  • A kind partner is kind to self and believes in self-care.
  • A kind partner makes room for the dreams of the other.
  • A kind partner laughs at life’s absurdities.
  • A kind partner apologizes and accepts apologizes.
  • A kind partner is the one you want next to you when life throws you a curve ball.
  • A kind partner doesn’t outgrow kindness.

No One Is Perfect

  • Is anyone kind all the time? No
  • Are there times we regret not being kind? Often
  • Is there always time to try… Always

So much happens in marriages and long-term relationships that the essence of what really matters can easily get lost or buried.

No matter what else is happening, no matter what else is being said, being kind helps…It is the unexpected ingredient that adds a tiny lift of heart…

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” (Mother Theresa)

 

Podcast of Ken Page LCSW Deeper Dating on Psych UP Live