Do you show up in your relationships? Are you really, truly there for your partner, with full presence and commitment? Or do you show up simply by being physically available?
If so, you may think you are "there" for your partner, though you're missing in spirit. Odds are, you’re giving the relationship as much as you have time and energy for, but are treating your relationship as another “to-do” item in your life. Or maybe you’re just there because you don’t want to be alone.
Regardless of the reason behind your emotional unavailability, you’ve failed to show up authentically, and your relationships have likely been short-lived and unfulfilling as a result.
Here's the good news: if you’re truly looking to be in a committed and satisfying relationship, you can do better. Here are 38 ways to show up authentically and with full presence in your next relationship.
1. Say what you feel.
Let your partner in on what you’re feeling with directness and transparency, or else they’ll never know. You can’t hide your feelings and expect connection.
2. Show up when you say you will.
Stop being a flake. Show up on time. Little gestures of staying true to your word accrue significance over time; though unfortunately, so do instances of flakiness. Choose to build your partner's trust.
3. Be authentically you.
There’s no reason to act like somebody you’re not. Your partner will know soon enough your true personality and character, even if you think your attempt to impress them will lead to greater connection. Live a life based on your values and principles, not an “act” for your partner.
4. Show compassion to yourself, your partner and to others.
Extend kindness, empathy and understanding for your partner instead of judgment and demands. That’s what love is all about. Practice compassion with yourself, friends and family members too. The more practice you have, the more love, grace and ease you'll feel in all facets of your life. That's a great foundation off which to build more connection in your relationship.
5. Let go of the small stuff.
Small things tend to be big things unless you learn to see the small things for what they are. Let go of minor irritations and keep the big picture in mind. Communicate how you feel but don’t harp on it.
6. Be considerate.
Think of your partner ahead of time. If you're at the grocery store and see there's a special on their favorite kind of apple or fancy cheese, pick some up as a tiny surprise. Do something thoughtful for them each day.
7. Be kind in whatever way is available to you.
Kindness is a practice, and is especially important when you're not feeling your best. But make a choice to consistently treat your partner with love and respect. Open the door. Pick up the tab sometimes. Offer to chat if your partner is upset at night, even if you're tired.
8. Open your heart
Cultivate bliss in your heart center, whether that be through meditation, yoga or whatever kind of practice gets you in touch with a sense of something larger and more profound. Physical activity resonates with some. Journal writing does more so with others. Whatever it is, do something that makes you tap into your well of love within. Then, vibrate this love from within toward your partner.
9. Make plans!
Have a plan for the date or the weekend. Decide where to go and when. It shows thoughtfulness and care.
10. Surprise your partner.
Flowers. A small gift. A hug from behind. Just be spontaneous and do something that wasn’t expected.
11. Cut out your annoying behavior.
You know what gets on your partner’s nerves. Be more mindful and considerate by being more aware of annoying habits and behaviors.
12. Don’t issue ultimatums.
You win wars with ultimatums, not love. Don’t back a person up to a corner, threaten to hurt them or threaten to end the relationship.
13. Focus on one relationship at a time.
Research shows multitasking doesn’t work with your life and it likely doesn’t work with relationships. Focus your efforts on the person who most fulfills you and you can potential with.
14. Be present during tense conversations.
Listen. Observe. Pay attention. Ask questions. Care.
15. Be genuine in how you express your emotions.
Say what you’re feeling — not what you think will sound good. Take actions from the heart, not to gain something.
16. Explore how you can be helpful, even if you're not being asked.
Look for ways to help, care or share with your partner. They may not always reach out about what they need from you, even if you are close or have been together a long time.
17. Do the work.
Relationships go up and down. Be willing to work through the rough patches and the hard times.
18. Consciously create time for each other.
It may sound unromantic to have to schedule time to see your partner with the same deliberateness you'd schedule a meeting. But the truth is that we are all busy, and you have to make time to see each other. Prioritize your relationship in your calendar and create space for it in your life.
19. Adjust your behavior and attitude as much as you need to.
If something isn’t working, find out what does. Talk about it.
20. Make improvements
If something is going “OK”, see what you can do to make it better. Ask.
21. Strive to do better
If you fail at something today, try again tomorrow. The same holds true in relationship dynamics. Strive to get better each day.
22. Give more than you gave yesterday.
Find ways to give more, love more, share more, connect more.
23. Don’t keep score
You’re not trying to get ahead or win — you’re trying to find a compatible partner for life. You win when love wins.
24. Respect yourself
Value yourself and work on yourself. Be aware when others try to take advantage of you.
25. Dress up for your partner
Not to impress them. Dress up to show them you care about your relationship.
26. Recognize the power of persistence.
Stay persistent when the road gets rough.
27. Share the housework.
No one likes to do it. Sharing the housework will help keep your place clean and keep you both happy.
28. Stay positive, even if it feels slightly forced sometimes.
No one likes negativity, pessimism or adopting an "end-of-the-world" mindset. Even on days when you feel really glum, try not to overwhelm your partner with a daily dose of what’s wrong in your life, your neighborhood and in the world. If you need to take a little space from them, do so — and simply explain that you don't want to weigh them down.
29. Be encouraging.
Encourage dreams, habits, goals, happiness, exercise, good sleep, a good diet, peace, perseverance, compromise and love.
30. Don’t compare her to your ex.
It’s not helpful or productive to compare your current partner to your ex. You are no longer with your ex for a reason — so why continue to bring your past into your present?
31. Don’t compare your partner to a fairy tale character who isn’t real.
Fairy tales are simply that — fictional stories that are the works of an author’s imagination. No one is perfect or flawless. A guy who loves you and shows up for you is rather dreamy!
32. Start every day with a clean slate.
Let today’s battles and fights die today. Let the imperfections of today pass. Tomorrow is a new day. Start over.
33. Never use the words “never” or “always” during a conflict.
Harsh words and extreme language doesn’t bring you closer together — it only pushes you further apart. Watch the words you use with each other, because globalizing language is not productive and will only exacerbate the conflict.
34. Prioritize your partner in your daily life.
You have a hundred things to do each day. Put your partner on the to-do list. Make sure you push them up to the top 5 to-do items in your life. You don’t have to do much — show up with your undivided attention.
35. Have your partner’s back, especially when other people aren't being supportive.
Be supportive when others are not. Be encouraging when others are not. Be there when no one else is.
36. Write love notes to each other.
It's tough to say, but love that’s not mentioned is easily forgotten. So make an effort to remind each other that you love each other. Say it out loud, put it in writing.
37. Keep the romance alive.
Put some effort into romancing him or her. Turn something ordinary into something special. Light a candle, a lamp, incense sticks …
38. Know when to call it quits.
Keep working on your relationship ... that is, until you feel like it’s no longer working. If you’ve been at it for years without any changes, find the courage to call it quits. Sometimes, letting go is the best thing you can do.
A great relationship takes more than showing up — it requires showing up as who you are, a willingness to work through the challenges and being fully present for your partner.
Don’t just call it in. Put in some effort to really show up in your next relationship. The more you put into your relationships, the more you’ll get out of it.