Quick, what do you think is one of the most primary purposes of long-term romantic relationships? Creating a family? Protecting financial interests? Being in love? While each of these is a possibility (although if you’re only in relationship to protect finances, I’d argue you’re missing out), there is a foundational principle to a long-term romantic relationship that underscores any of these options, and likely many others. The foundational principle I am referring to is: soothing.
This is a critical thing to look for, and it requires a good understanding of both yourself and your partner to adequately address. If you have ever been in a relationship where you were easily soothed by your partner, and you could easily soothe him/her, you will know how much more enjoyable a relationship that has this foundation is to be in. If you have ever been in a relationship where soothing is a one-way street, then you will likely remember how difficult this felt, especially for the person who couldn’t be soothed. The very worst combination, naturally, is the relationship where neither party is soothed by the other. These relationships tend to have lots of frustration, arguments and shouting in them, since no one is getting their needs met.
When you look at what soothes, there are some obvious things that tend to work for most of us: Like a hug when we’re sad, or a listening ear leant when a day has gone south. Some soothing behaviors are verbal, such as compliments, support or standing up for your partner. Some soothers are physical, like bringing your mate coffee in the morning (really, if your boo likes coffee, this makes their day!), sex, leaning on each other on the couch, or holding hands. Acts of service can often be interpreted as a soother, such as taking the car in for that oil change, making a delicious dinner, or taking charge of chores around the house without being asked. Fascinatingly, some soothers are the absence of a behavior: Not chewing loudly when it drives your partner crazy, not looking at that hot person at the table next to you, not insisting that your partner accompany you to the work party you know they won’t enjoy.
It is important to identify what works for you and what works for your partner. Often, we manage to pick mates who have different needs and wants than we do, so we must investigate what makes a difference to them, and to let them know what makes a difference to us. This communication of what soothes, and the act of asking what soothes them is a fabulous connection builder. Plus, when we are focused on meeting our partner’s needs, and appreciating that our needs are being met, we are less focused on the inevitable differences and difficulties between us, again strengthening a positive bond. Enjoy!