A 2020 Pew Research study found that 67% of Americans say they are dissatisfied with their dating lives. But are relationships really doomed to failure?
Well, here’s an idea for you: it might just be all about personal values, especially the ones that help us look beyond ourselves. A fresh-off-the-press study in the Sage Journal1https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/01461672231156975 tells us that self-transcendence values can play a big part in spicing up our love life.
So, ready to dive in? In this article, we’ll explore how these values can help keep the romance alive. Plus, we’ll share some real-life tips on how to grow these values for a love-filled, satisfying relationship. Let’s get started!
What Are Self-Transcendent Values?
Self-transcendence values emphasize the welfare and well-being of others, including values such as benevolence, universalism, and altruism. In other words, it’s about focusing on stuff that’s bigger than just you. It’s about looking beyond your own needs and desires and putting a spotlight on the welfare of others and the world around you.
These values typically include things like:
- Benevolence: This is all about wishing well for others. It’s about being kind, generous, and looking out for the people close to you. Basically, being a good person!
- Universalism: This one’s all about understanding, appreciating, and protecting the welfare of all people and nature. It’s about loving your neighbor, whether they’re in the next apartment or halfway around the globe.
In a nutshell, self-transcendence values encourage us to care about others and the world we live in, making us more empathetic, understanding, and compassionate. In contrast, self-enhancement values prioritize personal success, power, and ambition.
And as it turns out, these values can play a pretty big role in how satisfied we feel in our romantic relationships. Let’s dig into that a bit more.
Digging Into The Research
The researchers found that self-transcendence values, or those focusing on caring for others and the world, tend to boost our relationship quality. But self-enhancement values, or those centered on our own success, can do the opposite—they might actually harm our relationships.
Being with a partner who shares our values can increase our attraction to them and boost our overall relationship satisfaction.
Stable and high-quality relationships typically have two key ingredients: commitment and trust. Actions that promote trust, like making sacrifices for your partner or celebrating their achievements, can strengthen your relationship.
So, the bottom line is, our values matter—a lot—in how well our relationships function. When partners prioritize the well-being of each other and the relationship, they create a nurturing environment that allows for growth, understanding, and fulfillment. Self-enhancement values? Not so much.
7 Tips to Boost Self-Transcendence Values in Your Relationship
Growing self-transcendence values in your relationship needs mindful, purposeful action. If you’re ready to boost the joy in your relationship, here’s how you can do it:
Use this cool-down script when angry
“Hey, [Partner’s Name], I can tell I’m getting pretty wound up right now. I don’t want our chat to turn into a fight, so how about we take a little break? We can cool off, then come back and keep talking when we’re both feeling a bit more chill.”
This script is all about hitting the pause button before a minor disagreement becomes a major argument. It shows you’re paying attention to your feelings and being honest about them. At the same time, it’s a great way to practice those self-transcendence values that can help make your relationship even stronger.
Embrace your partner’s views
Give more than just a nod to your partner’s emotions and needs. Go deeper – try to see the world from their perspective. For instance, if your partner seems frustrated about work, don’t just sympathize; genuinely try to understand their feelings. This could mean asking more about their day, their colleagues, or the projects they’re working on.
At the same time, self-empathy is crucial. Scientists have found that a self-critical attitude can damage our ability to build strong, long-lasting relationships. So, how can you shoo away that inner critic and boost self-empathy?
Researchers have proven how devastating self-criticism is to our ability to connect and form lasting relationships with other people. So here are 3 ways to stop it:
- Reframe your inner dialogue: Self-criticism often comes dressed as realism. But there’s a difference between being self-aware and self-critical. When you notice a negative self-statement, ask yourself, “Would I speak like this to someone I care about?” If not, reframe it. For instance, if you’re brooding over a mistake you made in a team meeting, instead of saying, “I’m always messing up,” try, “I made a mistake today, but I learned something valuable for next time.”
- Personalize your meditation practice: Mindfulness meditation is more than just a buzzword. It’s scientifically proven to increase your brain’s gray matter – crucial for managing emotions. But how do you make your meditation practice personal? Try a tailored meditation practice that reflects your interests. If you love nature, try a guided visualization of walking through a forest or sitting by a river. This can make meditation more enjoyable and something you look forward to.
- Celebrate your victories with a victory jar: We often overlook our small wins, but they can be powerful motivators and reminders of our abilities. Start a victory jar. Each time you have a win – whether it’s completing a tough workout, finishing a challenging task at work, or even standing up for yourself in a difficult situation – write it down and drop it in the jar. Then, whenever you’re feeling down, reach into your victory jar for a reminder of your strengths and accomplishments.
When you combine a deeper understanding of your partner with a kinder relationship with yourself, your romantic relationship will flourish.
Want more tips on empathy? Read on: The 15 Habits of Highly Empathetic People (Empathy Guide)
Engage in acts of kindness
Small acts of kindness can go a long way in strengthening your bond with your partner. Try these acts:
- Record a personal podcast episode—include favorite shared moments.
- Make a Spotify playlist. Every song? Part of your love story.
- Write a short story about your first date. A third-person perspective can make it more fun.
- A home-based mini film festival, featuring their favorite obscure movies.
- Create a secret handshake, just for the two of you.
- Turn your shared texts or emails into a beautifully bound book with the help of online services.
- Start a new tradition. It could be anything! How about Saturday sunrise breakfasts?
- Run a two-person book club. A shared book every month with a lively discussion to follow.
- Use mementos from a shared experience to craft a unique piece of art.
- Foodie challenge! Recreate dishes from your first date or favorite restaurant.
Try even more ideas: 62 Unique Ideas to Be a Nicer Person, According to Science
Spice things up with a ‘no-phone’ date! Commit to ignoring all the buzzes and dings from your devices for an entire evening. Head out for a fun adventure or simply cook dinner together at home. Use this uninterrupted time to talk about dreams, swap hilarious stories, or even learn a new hobby together. This digital detox date will not only let you focus fully on each other but also make room for some genuine, heart-to-heart bonding. Remember, spending quality time together is one of the five love languages, so give it a try!
Head on over to our guide to read up on the others: What Are the Five Love Languages? Everything You Need To Know
Cultivate a growth mindset
Embrace the idea that both you and your partner can grow and evolve in your relationship. Encourage each other to learn from challenges and setbacks and view them as opportunities for growth and self-improvement. Here’s how:
- Switch to a ‘Can-Do’ Attitude: Rock the boat a bit and try tackling tasks or challenges that usually scare you off. It could be taking on a difficult project at work or conquering a complex recipe. Rally each other on and make it a journey of discovery.
- Strike a Positivity Pose: Flip your perspective upside down! Instead of seeing hurdles as boulders, see them as stepping stones to something better. Greet every setback with a ‘bring it on’ attitude. Daily affirmations can help you sail through tough times, so start your day with a positive mantra like, “Today’s going to be awesome!”
- Be ‘Curious Georges’: Make ‘learning something new’ a weekly ritual. It can be a salsa class, a pottery workshop, or even a coding course! Don’t limit yourself to your usual interests. The idea is to spark curiosity and make learning a fun, shared experience. Bonus points if it’s something out of your comfort zone. It’s all about growing together!
And, of course, check out our guide: The Growth Mindset: How to Learn
Let go of grudges and resentments, and practice forgiveness when conflicts arise. Remember that nobody is perfect, and by forgiving, you create a safe space for both you and your partner to grow and learn from mistakes. Try these 3 things:
- Whistle ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen: If you’re feeling frustrated or holding a grudge, take a deep breath and whistle the tune of “Let It Go” from Frozen. It’s a gentle reminder not to take things too seriously.
- Unleash Your Inner Detective: After a disagreement, channel your inner Sherlock Holmes. Analyze the situation, get to the bottom of what actually happened and why. Not only will this help clear misunderstandings, but it’ll also make you a pro at handling future situations.
- Try Tea and Talk Time: Set aside Tea and Talk with your partner. This is a dedicated time when you both sip your favorite brew and discuss openly about what’s been brewing in your mind. It’s all about honest conversation, no judgments, just you two and your cups of tea.
Embrace the ‘Everyday Hero’ approach
Recognizing that not every achievement comes with a trophy, create a unique way to celebrate those small, everyday victories that often go unnoticed. If your partner has had a breakthrough at work, nailed a tricky yoga pose, or finally organized their closet, honor these ‘Everyday Hero’ moments.
One way to celebrate each other’s wins is by having a unique Victory Dance routine. It could be a silly jig, an impromptu salsa, or even a funny interpretation of the Macarena. The point is to make it fun and exclusive to you two. So whenever one of you has a win, big or small, you break into this dance routine together. And it doesn’t have to be dancing.
Let’s take the example of John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, a celebrity couple known for their fun-loving relationship. Chrissy Teigen, a food enthusiast and cookbook author, often experiments with new recipes at home. When she nails a new recipe, John Legend doesn’t just enjoy the food; he often shares these culinary triumphs on social media, letting the world know about Chrissy’s Everyday Hero moments in the kitchen.
He once shared a picture of Chrissy with a perfectly cooked roast chicken, crowning her the “BEST CHEF” on his Instagram stories. Not only did this publicly appreciate Chrissy’s accomplishment, but it also added a fun, celebratory aspect to their daily life.
By focusing on cultivating compassion and joy in your relationship, you’re setting the stage for a partnership that’s not just fulfilling, but also resilient and enduring. Remember, you’re not just building a relationship, you’re creating a unique, shared journey—one that’s filled with connection, laughter, and plenty of love.
Want more? Check out our Science of People research hub or head on over to read about How to Control Your Mind: 20 Science-Backed Strategies
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