The small things matter the most.
What does it mean to be a “good partner”? Whether you are a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, spouse, significant other, or [enter term of choice here], most of the same principles apply.
It comes down to the simple things. The ways that we listen, pay attention to detail, remember important things, and make the love of our lives feel about themselves, the relationship, and us.
Here are 30 small, everyday, often-overlooked things that can make a big statement in showing that you care.
1: Get the “single life” out of your system first.
Yep — The most important piece of this is what happens before you get into the relationship.
If you commit to someone while you’re still unsure about what you want in life, or where you want to be, or what type of partner you really want to be with, you run a serious risk of leading someone down a path of inevitable heartbreak.
It’s our responsibility as individuals to do the exploring that we want to do while we have the chance to do it. This way, you’ll be able to fully commit to the right person when they come along.
2: Prove yourself by being consistent.
Particularly in the beginning of a relationship, it’s easy to get distracted or run “hot and cold.” Work, obligations, maybe even other people you’re dating can get in the way of consistent communication.
But, if you’re really serious about getting to know someone and building a foundation, that consistency is the very thing you need to bring to the table. If it’s not there, you may come across as disinterested or flaky, and everything else will fall apart as a result.
It’s important to note that being consistent only gets more important over time, not less. You must be consistently trustworthy, consistently respectful, consistently authentic.
3: Give them your undivided attention.
Life is full of distractions. Work emails, Instagram notifications, hobbies, chores, family, friends — take regular time to really connect and shut out all of life’s noise. Your relationship will be stronger for it.
4: Learn their signs.
Not whether they’re an Aries or a Gemini — but the signs they give you when they want (or don’t want) something.
Does their silence indicate a need for alone time? Give it to them.
Does physical closeness mean they want a hug? Give them a hug.
Is a venting session about to begin when they say “You know what really bugs me?” Be quiet and let it happen.
Everyone is different, and putting in the effort to understanding the non-verbal cues will help you live in better harmony.
5: Use “I feel” language.
You’re a human too, and therefore will have your own frustrations and complaints at some point during your life.
Effectively communicating these points is the key to being heard rather than starting a fight.
Instead of “Your actions make me upset” try something closer to “I feel ABC way during the times that we XYZ.”
Make it clear that this is about how you are feeling, and that it’s not a personal jab or criticism.
6: NEVER weaponize their insecurities.
Part of a relationship is trusting your partner with your deepest secrets, desires and fears. Using those very things against them is unacceptable and abusive.
7: Give meaningful and specific compliments.
Evolve beyond the standard tropes and let your partner know that you notice the meaningful things that make them…them.
“I really respect how you handled that conflict with your mom.”
“You’re doing a great job with the kids.”
“That project you did for work came out amazing.”
The more specific you can be, the more they’ll feel seen and appreciated.
8: Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
9: Step in and help.
Think about the daily tasks or chores your partner handles and consider how much time or energy some of these things may take.
Then ask yourself: Is there an opportunity to step in and help?
Does their car need an oil change? Make the appointment and bring it down yourself (or, do it yourself if that’s your thing).
Do the kids need to be picked up but they’re swamped with work? Let them stay focused and go get the kids.
Be the person who works to make their life easier without them having to ask.
10: Take time to remember all of the reasons why you fell in love in the first place.
You’re going to have disagreements, arguments, and conflicts. During the times when you’re most frustrated, train yourself to remember all of the reasons why you’re in this relationship to begin with.
11: Stay connected intimately.
Everyone knows that healthy intimacy is a cornerstone to every happy relationship — but everyone feels and absorbs intimacy differently.
Intimacy is not just physical — but emotional. It requires deep connection, communication, and balance.
Learn what it means for your partner, and do more of that.
12: Flirt more.
You’re intimate partners, not roommates.
13: Make more proactive decisions.
We’ve all been in the “I don’t know, what do youwant to do?” revolving conversation. It’s like a tennis match, back and forth for what can feel like hours.
In these moments, be the one who finally makes a decision about what you’re going to do. Conversely, if you know it’s something they have strong feelings about, make sure you step back and be the passenger on this one.
14: Do more of what they like.
Watch the shows or movies. Walk through the park when you’d rather be sitting at home. Go shopping if they ask you. Sharing in the normality in life can sometimes bring the best memories.
15: Express your gratitude for them…to them.
Never take a good person for granted. Someday, someone will come along and appreciate what you chose not to.
16: Encourage “me time.”
Wanting to do something special for your partner is nice, but making sure it’s what they want (or need) is the important part of it.
Maybe she needs a night out with the girls, or by herself, or a day at the spa, or just an hour to breathe and think.
Maybe he needs to go to his friend’s house to watch the race, or zone out and play video games for an hour.
Giving that to them will mean more than any material gift you could give.
17: Have the “Love Languages” conversation together.
Knowing the way(s) that someone receives love is paramount to giving it to them properly.
Acts of service.
Words of affirmation.
If you don’t know which of these are most important to your partner (or…yourself), now is a good time to figure it out.
18: Stay fit and healthy.
Being in a relationship or marriage isn’t an excuse to let go of your health or appearance.
It’s important that your partner remain attracted to you…and it’s important that you remain alive to keep loving them.
19: Act like a team.
As long as they’re not proposing something harmful or dangerous, being in a relationship means being part of a team, and being part of a team means working together to accomplish goals and build a life.
20: Remember that they’re your partner, not your project.
Yes, we should do everything in our power to love and support each other in a relationship, but I’m going to say something controversial here:
It’s not your job to save someone.
Too often I hear of heartbreak and frustration because someone got into a relationship for the wrong reasons, one of which being that they thought their love was the magical cure for someone who desperately needed it.
Inevitably, this only leads to disappointment and even further pain.
Be with someone who wants you by choice, not someone who needs you out of dependency.
21: Stay cool, calm, and collected.
No productive conversations happen when either or both people are wound up and irrational.
22: Send “I love you” texts.
Or leave notes — whatever your style. The idea is to never let your partner forget how much you care for them.
23: Practice introspection and acknowledge your own areas of improvement.
Failing to do so can make us defensive and combative because our insecurities can trigger a defense mechanism if we don’t recognize them, acknowledge them, and work on them.
Doing so doesn’t signal weakness, but strength — as looking at our own faults is one of the hardest things to do.
Self-awareness is our own defense against defensiveness.
24: Work together to solve problems, not against each other.
Remember that you should be two people working together towards a common goal, not two people pitted against each other.
The point of an “argument” is to find a solution that works for you both. Not to be “the winner.”
It’s not “you vs. them,” it’s “you and them vs. the problem.”
25: Never stop dating each other.
When was the last time you spent a romantic night alone, just the two of you? Even for a couple of hours?
If you’re married or in a relationship with kids, this type of alone time can be more difficult to come by.
Make sure you carve out the time for you as a couple. That, at the end of the day, is the core of the life you’re both building together, and it must remain strong.
26: Validate all feelings.
Yours, theirs, everything in between.
Be accepting of what you are feeling (and stop ignoring emotions).
Be accepting of what your partner is feeling (and stop minimizing their emotions, even if you don’t understand them).
If you do more of this, you’ll both be better off.
27: Check in with each other more.
Ask how they’re feeling. What’s working in the relationship? What isn’t? What’s causing stress? How can you be a better partner? How can you step in and help today?
Sometimes, just knowing that you’re willing to ask the question is all that‘s needed.
28: Go with the flow.
Life throws all of us curveballs, especially when you’re merging two (or more) lives together into one.
You will avoid a lot of stress and conflict if you willingly accept this and ride the wave.
29: Maintain your own passions and hobbies.
What are some of the things that you loved doing when you first met? These are likely some of the very things that drew them in in the first place.
What were your passions, interests, and hobbies?
Are you still doing those things, or have you given them up?
Having your own identity within the relationship is a key piece of maintaining attraction and autonomy. Nobody wants to feel smothered or suffocated in a relationship by someone who is fully dependent on them.
30: Love, accept, and embrace your partner for *their truest self*.
Most of us, at the end of the day, just want one simple thing: To be loved for who we truly are.
The most important thing you can ever do for someone is see them in ways that nobody else ever has.
That’s how you love them in ways that nobody else ever did.
That’s how you recognize their inner beauty and see all of the things that make them unique.
That’s how you build gratitude for what they bring to your life.
That’s how you learn the best ways to make them happy as an individual.
That’s how they feel fully comfortable and open being their truest self around you.
The safety, comfort, and certainty that comes along with knowing you love someone for who they are is the most valuable gift you can ever give.
That’s how you feel like home.