What Does It Mean To Have Selfless Love in a Relationship?

A couple who practices selfless love leaning against each other's foreheads with their eyes closed in a caress.

Being selfless is all about putting the needs of others before your own. If you practice selflessness in your relationship regularly, it’s sure to run pretty smoothly. But realistically, it’s easier to be more selfish in love than it is to be selfless. If you want your relationship to last, experts say having selfless love may be the key.

“As a therapist, I’ve seen couples who come in seeking help for reasons where selfless love is simply the answer,” Darcia Belizaire, Primary Therapist at the Foundations Wellness Center, tells The Date Mix. “Being selfless is defined as putting the needs of others before your own, but in a relationship I believe it includes the needs of your partner along with yours. It’s being okay with making sacrifices sometimes and growing from that.”

Selfless love is important in a relationship because it shows how much you value your partner and the relationship itself. According to Belizaire, it promotes healthy communication, healthy arguments, love, growth, and intimacy. It also decreases the opportunity for unwanted feelings, discord, lack of awareness, and understanding, and the demise of the relationship. When there’s selfless love in your relationship, you may notice the following things:

You listen to your partner because you want to understand them.
“Instead of being defensive, you get curious and become open minded,” Katie Ziskind, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells The Date Mix. You actually take the time to listen to your partner because you want to understand them, their needs, their desires, and their goals for life.

“In reality, you always want to give back to yourself first, but the feelings of wanting to give your partner everything are still real,” she says. “Selfless love is about being genuine, being a best friend, and being a romantic lover to your partner.” Listening to them is simple but says a lot about how you see your partner.

You know how to compromise.
Knowing how to compromise is essential if you want relationship success. When there’s selfless love in your relationship, you and your partner understand just how important it is to compromise.

“Sometimes it’s inconvenient, it doesn’t feel good, or you have something else you’d rather be doing,” Amy Hartle, Relationship Expert at Two Drifters, says. “For the one you love, this is a powerful action that helps strengthen your bond enormously, and it also helps you grow individually.”

You focus more on what you can give rather than what you can get.
“The root of love is giving,” Jacqui Rubinoff, Certified Love Coach and Relationship Expert, says. “Selfless love focuses on what you can do for your partner rather than what your partner can do for you.” When you’re in a healthy relationship, there’s an equal amount of give and take. It’s truly a well-balanced partnership.

You make decisions that are beneficial to the relationship.
“Each relationship is comprised of two unique people, but the relationship creates a new third entity with needs that are distinct from the two people,” Liz Colizza, MAC, LPC, NCC, Head of Research at relationship counseling app Lasting, tells The Date Mix.

This has been called the ‘We.’ When there’s selfless love in your relationship, you make decisions that are good for the We as opposed to the Me. Research shows that this sense of sacrifice is a strong indicator of relationship satisfaction.

You choose to make your relationship a priority.
“Selfless love is unconditional,” says dating coach Myles Scott. “It’s not transactional. It’s the choice to put your relationship first and to radiate love regardless of circumstances.” It doesn’t matter where you are in life. When you choose to make your partner and relationship a priority, you’re practicing selfless love.  

It’s important to note that having selfless love doesn’t mean losing yourself in your relationship. It’s important to be selfish sometimes and get your needs met as well. But if both you and your partner practice selfless love, you’ll both find the relationship to be truly satisfying.

Kristine Fellizar

Kristine is a Los Angeles-based writer who specializes in topics related to sex, dating, health, and wellness. Her work can be seen on Bustle, HelloGiggles, AwesomenessTV, and Brit.Co, among others.

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