Basics of Compassionate Relationships

Compassionate Relationships | Uncommon Love Counseling for Open Relationships in Portland

How compassionate are you with your partner? Gifts and dates are great but if you don't bring compassion into play, you're only halfway there.

Compassion means something a little different for each of us.  

Think about what compassion means to you specifically.  Notice where it's lacking in your life, career, and relationship.  

How could increasing compassion improve connection in your relationship?

Build a compassionate relationship in 11 simple steps:

  1. Instead of asking, "What's wrong?" Ask, "What do you need from me in this moment?" Find ways to offer support and understanding instead of focusing on obstacles.

  2. Try embracing the moment and accepting things as they come.  Crappy days happen. Accept them, and be there for your partner when they have one.

  3. Ask your partner what compassion means to them. Just as you communicate about sexual desires, try communicating about compassion.  And just as your sexual needs may be different, your needs for compassion maybe as well.

  4. Take time to really listen to your partner.  Practicing fully present listening is one of the most important parts of compassion.  Put away distractions and make real listening a priority.

  5. Admit when you're wrong. Taking personal responsibility and apologizing with honesty is critical to long term relationship success and to compassion in practice.

  6. Instead of saying "I understand" or "I know how you are feeling" practice openness by asking "Tell me more about how you are feeling" and staying curious about your partner's experience- even if it is similar to one you have had- it is still different because it is theirs.

  7. Use the golden rule.  How often are you treating your partner the way you would like to be treated?

  8. Being compassionate doesn't mean putting your needs aside.  The most compassionate people are also some of the most boundaried.  Compassion doesn't mean over giving or co-dependency. Compassion simply allows you to care, without throwing yourself into your partner's business.

  9. Have fun. Compassion can be such a serious subject, a little laughter might be just what you need.  Try to experience the lighthearted parts of your relationship fully and increase them by sharing lighthearted fun with your honey.

  10. Respect your partner's space.  If your partner doesn't want to talk, give conversation a break.  One of the most compassionate things we can do is give each other space to not be, coddled, held, and doted over. Use the space to take care of yourself.

  11. Never forget: compassion is ever-changing. Like anything else in relationships, it's dependent on the present moment. What you each need will grow and change over time, so don't be afraid to re-evaluate and adjust.

This post was originally shared on Amplify Good.

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Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

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