The most important trait when looking for a partner may come as a surprise.
It's a common question: What's the secret to everlasting love? And wat is the most important thing we look for in a potential match? Is it shared values? Sexual attraction? or maybe a great sense of humour..?
In fact, it's none of these traits. To mark Random Acts of Kindness Day 2023, we will be taking a closer look at why - time and time again - kindness is voted as being the most important trait, even more vital than status, money, looks, or compatibility.
Here are ten reasons why kindness is so intrinsically linked to relationship success.
1. Kindness creates emotionally stability
Couples that posses compassion, empathy and generosity - all forms of kindness in our daily lives - are much more likely to remain happily together in the longer term.
The emotional stability that kindness brings is the most important predictor of relationship success. This is because being able to prioritise kindness - and figuring out how to make a partner feel loved and understood.
Feeling confident that your partner will always treat you with kindness makes you more likely to want to put down roots. It can also help couples to boost communication and feelings of connectivity.
2. It' helps to combat stress
The stress hormone, cortisol is essential in highly stressful conditions. It prepares our bodies for flight or battle as a means of survival. However, the stress hormone has detrimental consequences when we are trapped in difficult circumstances and cannot leave.
Kindness has been demonstrated to help lower cortisol levels and restore a more balanced, relaxed state in our bodies.
This means that, during the inevitable conflict that arises during the cycle of a relationship, your kindness will naturally make you more patient and resilient.
3. Kindness boosts self esteem
There is a common effect when people show kindness to others. It’s also known as 'the helper’s high'. Being kind to others fills you with good feelings and makes you feel good about yourself.
Self-esteem boosts your self-esteem, which is crucial for staying positive and productive in your life. Compassion for strangers has a more significant impact on self-esteem than kindness to friends and family.
And as we all know, when we feel good about ourselves, that confidence and energy projects onto others - which is an extremely attractive trait.
4. Compassion leads to better sex
Who doesn't want a partner who will put the other person first? When we experience problems within our sexual relationship, compassion allows us to respond with understanding and connection, instead of accusation and distance.
Because sex is so complex there is a lot of room for misunderstanding. Consequently, compassion is essential for two people to maintain a deeply intimate relationship.
When couples are more forgiving and grateful, they feel more satisfaction with sex - these are called 'partner effects'. The reason partner effects are so wonderful is that it validates what we all experience: sex is an interactive, complex relationship.
How we treat each other outside of the bedroom impacts what we experience within the bedroom. We each want to be loved as a whole person, not just because we can turn someone on.
5. It helps us to resolve conflict
Aside from sexual misunderstandings, another way that kindness contributes to our social well-being, and ultimately our happiness, is by allowing us to right a wrong. We can use kindness to help repair relationships and to demonstrate our empathy for others.
When someone we care about is down, their sadness can quickly turn into our own. Doing something kind for that person provides us with the same relief as the recipient and can also make us feel like we are correcting a wrong (even if it was not our wrongdoing).
6. Self-kindness creates healthy individuals
And if we want to foster a healthy relationship, we first need to be a healthy individual.
Self-kindness (also known as self-compassion) is just as vital as kindness to others. So if you're kind and healthy as an individual - showing patience and understanding to yourself - you're more likely to make a healthy contribution to a partnership.
People who indulge in negative self-talk and are highly critical of themselves are more prone to depression and anxiety. If unaddressed, this can impact relationship longevity and mean that we are more likely to relate negatively towards others.
7. Generosity makes us more proactive
Work settings that prioritise compassion get more done when it comes to productivity - and this applies within relationships, too.
This actually contradicts the widely held belief that success requires 'tough love' - when in fact, tough love is not beneficial. It paves the way for a toxic, oppressive setting.
The more we 'give' in terms of our support, kind gestures and time, the more those around us will want to give back in return, creating a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship cycle.
8. It's a fact: Being kind makes us happier
Being kind makes us happier - and being happy makes us kind. We are naturally drawn to happier, more upbeat people.
A study at the Harvard Business School in the Journal of Happiness Studies wanted to look at the more prolonged effects of kindness and its affect on happiness.
Researchers had the participants recall a previous purchase they either made for themselves or someone else.
After doing so, the participants could choose whether to spend money on themselves or someone else. Those who recalled a purchase made for someone else reported being happier, but they also were more likely to choose to spend a future monetary windfall on someone else the next time around.
The results of the research are powerful. Kindness makes us happier. Happiness makes us kinder. It is a cycle that can keep on giving and ensuring our overall happiness and well-being, giving a true boost to our partners.
9. Kindness will make you a better parent
And your partner will see that. Even if planning to have a family isn't consciously at the forefront of your mind - how you treat others can indicate how you would interact with the wider family unit moving forwards.
Indeed, when surveyed, it was proven that Kindness Is Most Important Value Parents Want to Instill In Children, Topping Intelligence and Strong Work Ethic, so it's natural that we will look to our prospective long term partners to see if they're likely to contribute positively to a family future. If that's what you want!
10. Kindness is contagious
Finally, compassion and kindness are crucial because they spread like wildfire. People who gain from a person’s pro-social action are more inclined to return the favor and 'pay it forward'.
This has a cascading effect, with acts of kindness becoming increasingly widespread. It’s a form of positive peer pressure. The 'helper’s high' also inspires people to continue to be kind. When something feels wonderful, people want to do it again.
So, being in a relationship where kindness is prevalent can ensure that it will go from strength to strength.
Kindness can be big or small, to friends, family, or strangers, but it is something we can all do more of - especially when it comes to benefitting our romantic relationships.
Living a life dedicated to kindness will result in your happiness and well-being, as well as that of others - and make us more attractive to people seeing a healthy relationship.
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