What Selfless Love Really Looks Like

Two women who strive to exemplify selfless love, leaning into each other in a field and smiling during their engagement photoshoot.

To be selfless means to put the needs and desires of your partner ahead of yours. It’s about making compromises and tough decisions with the one you love, and allowing your love for them to take priority, ahead of what you might want in the moment.

Now, that doesn’t mean forgetting your own needs, and always giving the other person what they want, out of fear you might lose them. It’s important to show yourself love, before you can really love someone else.

There’s a fine line between being selfless and selfish in a relationship—but here’s what it looks like.

Accepting that no one is perfect.
To love someone selflessly, means to not only love their best qualities, but also their flaws and imperfections. We all have them, and it’s about accepting them without judgement.

There will be ups and downs in any relationship, and it’s about navigating those together and communicating the whole time. Judging is the worst thing you can do, even if the person you’re with might be hurting themselves or treating you poorly. Under no circumstances should you allow behavior like that to slide, but it’s about recognizing that we all have our shortcomings, and helping your partner shift those behaviors without bringing judgement into it.

Letting people go when it’s best for them .
You might have been in a relationship where you still loved the other person, but you knew that staying together wasn’t the right thing for them at that time. And even though you loved them and still wanted them in your life, you let them go.

Loving selflessly means you have enough love and respect for your partner that you aren’t afraid to do what’s best for them, even if it’s going to be painful for you.

You’re willing to compromise and sacrifice.
When you get into a relationship with someone, you can’t be totally selfish anymore, because you’re a team now. You each have your individual goals and needs, but you also have joint ones now, too. Sometimes, you’ll need to sacrifice what you want to allow your partner have what they want, and vice versa.

That doesn’t mean you always have to give up what you want, but it’s important that you’re okay with compromising so that you’re both getting what you need in the relationship.

Not keeping score.
People who love selflessly don’t keep score of what they give to their partner. They don’t worry they’re giving more, or the outcome of what they’re giving—they simply enjoy the act of showing their partner as much love as they possibly can.

They rest safe in the knowledge that love will flow back to them in the right amount.

To love selflessly means you’re willing to give as much as you get from your partner, and as much as you would expect them to give, without making them feel indebted to you in any way—there’s no room for keeping score here.

Sometimes you might be called to give more than you thought you would, but it’s about stepping up in those times of need, and not expecting anything in return.

It creates space for growth.
Selfless love is the kind of love that allows both people in the relationship to grow—because it doesn’t tie anyone down. And as they say, if you’re not growing, you’re only dying.

The more love each person gives, the more they open and expand, and the more room they then have to accept love and give even more, and this expansion is never ending.

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt.
Loving selflessly is about trusting your partner and standing by their side, even when no one else is standing with them. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. For example, if they’ve let you down before, and you have reason to doubt them.

But selfless love means you always choose to believe them and give them the benefit of the doubt, allowing them to rise up and meet your high standards, instead of expecting them to fall short, and then watching as they do.

Working as a team.
There really is no “I” in team, and when you enter into a relationship with someone, that’s exactly what you are—a team.

Loving selflessly means working as a team, instead of constantly prioritizing your own goals and needs, or trying to get your own way. Couples that work together are the only ones that stay together.

Saying in sickness and health, and meaning it.
You can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, and sometimes things don’t go as you hoped they would. People get sick, accidents and tragedies happen, and one of you might be forced to take care of the other or step up and take on a much greater role than before.

Selfless love means you’ll be there when your person needs you, no matter what, because you promised you would be, regardless of how hard things get, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to help your relationship continue to thrive.

It’s abundant.
People who love selflessly know that it will never run out, so it doesn’t need to be protected or hoarded away. They know that love is infinite, and there’s an abundance of it in this world.

And most importantly, they understand that the way to get more, is to give more.

Shani Jay

Bestselling Author and Empowerment Coach

Shani is a bestselling author, empowerment coach for women, and self-love advocate. She is the author of Bloom, The Babe Bible, Glow Getter, and Light Up Your Life; and her writing has been featured on many internationally recognized platforms including The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, and Teen Vogue.

​In 2016 Shani founded The Glow Getter Tribe – a self-love & kindness movement which helps young girls & women worldwide feel happy, confident and beautiful starting from the inside, out.

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