Looking for a deeper connection in your relationship? How about better sex? Would you like more acceptance from your partner? What if you could have all that and feel better about yourself in the process?
Well, that’s what self-compassion can do for you.
In a culture that encourages us to use self-criticism as a motivator and praises us for neglecting ourselves in favor of others, self-compassion can be a hard practice to develop. But there’s a growing body of research that shows what therapists like myself have seen for years: compassion for ourselves (e.g. kindness, acceptance, and patience with flaws) is a vital component of sustaining loving relationships.
So before you write off self-compassion as self-indulgent or narcissistic, let’s look at 3 ways it can make your relationship sexier and more fulfilling.
1. Relationships are like mirrors.
One of the first things I do when working with a couple is listen for their complaints about their partner and then look for the parallel in themselves. Our connection to others serves many purposes, one of which is to reflect back to us the things we need to see clearly about ourselves.
Often what we struggle with in our relationship is the very thing we struggle with inside of ourselves. Feeling unappreciated by your partner? When was the last time that you really felt proud of yourself? Wish that your significant other would be more patient and forgiving with you? It might be time to figure out whether you are patient and forgiving of yourself.
This doesn’t get your partner off the hook, but it’s a great place to start when it comes to evaluating the state of your relationship. Just like a mirror, things can look better if you polish up the relationship, but ultimately it can only show you what you put in front of it. It is only by learning to love yourself unconditionally that you can find that kind of acceptance from others.
2. We treat others how we treat ourselves.
We all know the golden rule: treat others, as you want to be treated. But as hard as we may try, the truth is that most of the time we treat others how we treat ourselves; and sometimes that’s not very nice. You can work hard to be patient, loving, and kind toward your significant other, but that type of love can only be sustained if you're able to treat yourself in the same way.
I know many people may argue that you can be compassionate toward others even while beating up yourself up, and that may be true for periods of time. However, consistent long-lasting compassion and love for another can only exist when you have decided to cultivate that kind of love for yourself as well.
3. When we take better care of our bodies, we take better care of ourselves and others.
Let’s face it, we are sensory beings and part of any sexy relationship is physical attraction. There is no single model of what is physically attractive, but we can all agree it must include self-care. Whether you're a glamorous gal or a natural earth goddess, creating that outward appearance of beauty begins inside.
Not only does self-compassion motivate us to take better care of our spirit, but it also drive us to take better care of our physical bodies. When you can accept your shortcomings with love and learn to be comfortable in your own skin, a confidence grows. It is the confidence that comes from feeling worthy of love no matter your flaws or mistakes. When we feel worthy we take care better care of ourselves, and a healthy body is a beautiful body!