We live in a demonstrably mean world. From oppressive institutions like racism and wealth inequality to more individualized examples of malice such as cyberbullying, kindness in an unkind society is paramount, and kindness starts with every single one of us. When looking inward, our relationship is a great place to start in order to determine whether we are putting compassion out into the world. We can all use a few reminders to just be sweet to one another, and that’s what this is: a reminder to be nice to the one you love.
Remember To Try Every Single Day
This is the most important thing we can do for ourselves and our partners, and not a single person on Earth succeeds at it entirely. One of the most wonderful aspects of being in a long-term relationship is the breaking down of barriers. The more time you spend with someone, the more you feel like you can be your truest self. The need for social performance dissipates, the façade dissolves, and what’s left is the person you really are. This is simultaneously amazing and dangerous.
Pure comfort with another person is such a heart-warming manifestation of trust, but it may also result in the lack of courtesy that you would likely display in public. We behave differently when we think no one’s looking, and no one’s perfect. You’re going to slip up. We all have a means of censoring ourselves differently for different people. You wouldn’t speak to your boss the same way as your partner, unless your boss is your partner, in which case you surely lead a spicier life than I do.
We all need to actively remind ourselves to be nicer than we are currently being in our relationship. It’s not enough to just stop yourself from being abusive, either. Tell your partner how you feel every chance you get. Rain compliments down upon them like humane Hellfire; every loving word singes their skin with appreciation and esteem. If you think you have no room to be nicer, you’re wrong.
The Art Of Gift Giving
If you’ve ever felt a sense of dread knowing you have to go find a gift for your partner, you’re doing it wrong. At some point, inevitably, you’ll feel this way. The longer your relationship endures, the less exciting and essential gift-giving feels. You need to fight this decay. Gifts are supposed to be a tangible proxy for one’s true feelings. They say “I love you this much.”
Predatory capitalists will try to convince you, subconsciously or otherwise, that affection directly correlates with price. This can be true sometimes, but sometimes it really is the thought that counts. If Valentine’s Day or their birthday is looming on the horizon, don’t just wait until the last minute and half-ass a gift. You should enjoy thinking about your partner, and you should want to give them something they’ll really appreciate. Don’t take symbolic gestures for granted.
Don’t underestimate the power of the random gift, either. If you show up out of the blue with say, a bouquet of flowers, and their immediate assumption is that you’ve done something horribly wrong, it’s because you haven’t set a precedent. If this sounds to you like a scheme to try to get away with cheating, it’s not and you should feel bad. The element of surprise makes a gift seem better than it is, too. Sure, they’re expecting something nice on February 14, but how about March 20? Didn’t see that coming, did you?
Social Media Declarations
When you’re scrolling through whatever social media platform you have and see some kind of matrimonial manifesto about how wonderful someone’s significant other is, what’s your reaction? Whether your response is to revel in sweetness or cringe in corniness, you’re correct.
Declaring your love for someone on social media is undoubtedly one of the corniest and obnoxious things you can post, right behind those Facebook shirts with a mad-lib paragraph on them and nothing else. But who cares? Public confessions of affection can really make your partner feel special and validated. Why hide your affinity for someone? Shout it from the rooftops, or in this case, your modest Instagram following.
Don’t get me wrong though, this isn’t for everyone. For some, getting tagged in a sappy run-on paragraph about how great you are is unconscionably embarrassing. There’s only one way to find out though, and the same concept can be applied outside of social media, too. Talk your partner up to other people, especially when your partner can hear it.
Do Corny Things Together
Embrace the corn. Become one with the corn. I have a theory that no one could possibly feel angry while skipping. You’ll either feel childlike elation or pure embarrassment. Either way, you’re not angry. So link arms with your partner and skip to your damn Lou, literally or metaphorically. Lean into the cheesiest aspects of being in a relationship.
The most cringe-inducing, eye-rolling things take on a completely different meaning when they’re done with the love of your life. Hold hands, share food, go to a pumpkin patch together, be the high fructose corn syrup your heart secretly yearns to be.
Cuddle As Much As Possible
How are these horizontal, elongated hugs still underrated? If you’re someone who doesn’t like to cuddle, well I feel sorry for you. Snuggling up to your partner in any way possible is one of the most life-affirming activities one can do. It’s so calming to just exist so close to another person for a while. It really makes you feel like everything is going to be okay, even if just for a few fleeting moments. Cuddle more, hurt less.
Couple Don’t Necessarily Need To Fight
One of the worst parts of the final season of “The Office” was the plotline of Jim and Pam’s marriage teetering on the brink of collapse. We all knew that the show wouldn’t end in the divorce of its iconic couple, but they sure wanted you to think it was headed that way. The major turning point comes after cameraman Brian’s marriage comes to an apparent end because he and his wife stopped fighting. So when Jim and Pam are headed down that same path, they make the conscious decision to fight with each other, evidently saving their marriage.
I get the point that they’re making there, that apathy in a relationship is an indicator of danger, but it is an all too common notion to romanticize fighting, conflating it with a necessary byproduct of passion. Refusing to yell at your partner is not a tacit admission of a dispassionate relationship. You can hash out your problems calmly and respectfully. Rage is not a prerequisite for ecstasy.
The Serendipity Of Not Dying
Every single day in which you didn’t die is a product of cosmic luck. It’s a total cliché to say that every day is a blessing, and to some, every subsequent day spent alive may very much feel like a curse. Regardless of your perspective, random acts of disaster are happening constantly, and any day can be your last. You have no idea if today’s the day you wind up in a fatal car crash or with a cancer diagnosis.
While living each day like it’s your last is unsustainable, don’t live each day like you’re already dead, either. If your partner were to die unexpectedly tomorrow, you wouldn’t want your last conversation with them to have been some petty argument. Why does posthumous guilt always re-contextualize your interactions with someone? Don’t say things that would haunt you forever if they were your final words to your loved one.