Doesn’t it feel wonderful when you know that someone cares for you? It is a deeply felt knowing that you are not alone in the world. It is an essential need. There is a longing to be connected to someone in your life that supports you and has your back. When you don’t feel “cared for” by your partner you experience disconnection. A lack of attention and care can leave you feeling unloved and forgotten.
Biologically we are “wired for connection.” Humans have a very long dependency period and being cared for is critical in order for a human child to survive. Caring relationships are basic to human existence and consciousness. The inherent desire for a companion that cares about our well-being continues throughout life.
In partner relationships, the desire to be seen, heard and known is fundamental because if we are truly known by another there is a sense that they care for us. We think of healthy attraction beginning with the spark of erotic polarity, which is necessary but unless it includes caring intention from both partners, the sexual attraction will not be enough to hold the relationship together. Caring intent is essential for intimacy and having a healthy meaningful relationship that lasts. The absence of being cared about can lead to loneliness, loss of meaning, despair and depression, which is why it is vital to keep the caring connection alive.
“A Caring person is one Who has Appropriate Motivations to Care for Others and Who Participates Adeptly in Effective Caring Practices”
~ Virginia Held
Caring is an Action
Caring for someone is more than just liking or loving them; it means that you are concerned for their well-being. Your actions and behaviors include serious attention to protect their health and welfare. You are interested in looking after their needs and willing to put yourself aside to give to another. Virginia Held, a philosopher on the ethics of care, describes a caring person “as one who has appropriate motivations to care for others and who participates adeptly in effective caring practices.” The motivation to care can arise from the initial attraction to another and deepens with the sense of love for another. A person may “care about” another without knowing how to “care for” another.
The kind of care you received when you were young will have an affect on the kind of care you expect to receive and the kind of care that you give. Living in a culture that upholds Independence and self-sufficiency as a high standard has diminished the value of caring to the extent that many people have not learned how to care for others or even for their own deepest needs.
Knowing what actions and behaviors the person you care about needs in order to feel “cared for,” supported and protected is necessary in order to give healthy caring intent. This is often where misunderstandings, feelings of discontent, and of not being loved occur in relationship. One person may truly care about another but have no clue how to show their partner that they care.
Effective Caring Practices
Commit to the Relationship
All relationships go through periods of harmony and disharmony. Without a commitment to stay, work through problems and resolve issues there can be an underlying feeling of dissolution at any moment. Don’t be, “One foot out the door,” whenever there is an issue that arises. This is a lack of commitment. The thought that one’s relationship is not solid gives partners a sense of insecurity and the feeling that one’s partner doesn’t really care. Trust is fractured.
Trust is crucial for security and when both people commit to supporting each other through difficulties intimacy increases and the feeling of care results. Resolving and repairing issues requires skill. Commitment entails overcoming your habitual reactions that cause separation and learning the skills of coming back into harmony.
Connect with Your Partner and Give them Attention
Relationships suffer from absence, inattention and taking your partner for granted. Have the demands and activities of your life taken precedence over your relationship? Caring behavior includes attending to the thoughts, feelings, desires and needs of one’s partner. Once you commit to a relationship you may believe that you have “tied the knot” and are done with the job of giving your partner caring attention. “I’ve told you I love you, why do you need more?” Neglect feels like rejection and can silently creep into your relationship. Absence in the form of neglect and lack of attention does Not make the heart grow fonder. Distance for short periods of time can create a sense of appreciation and longing….but if you are not making an effort to be with your partner and connect with them or to be there when they need support, you are not valuing them and they will feel the lack of care and concern.
Attention is shown through being present with your partner, focusing on their needs, putting your needs aside and truly listening to them. You care about how they experience life, what brings them happiness, what their passions are and what they want to pursue. You understand and empathize when they hurt and support them when they are sad.
Attention is shown through Daily Actions. Make Appreciating Your Partner a Priority.
- Be Present and consistent. Our bodies crave the feeling of a trustworthy and reliable partner.
- Connect with your partner every day. Ask about their day and take time for sharing. Be curious and interested in what interests them.
- When you are traveling or apart from one another Call, Text, and check in.
- Leave notes of endearment.
- Remember special occasions, dates and events. Notice what lights up your partner’s face and how they like to celebrate. Treat Special Days with extra special attention. Plan ahead.
- When your partner has a project or event that matters to them be supportive and show your appreciation for their passions. Make your partner your Priority and what matters to them matter to you. Be present and drop what you are doing.
Be Emotionally Engaged and Actively Listen
- Make sure your partner is your “Go To Person.” Create a sacred intimacy between the two of you that no one else shares. Keep confidences.
- Share your thoughts, ideas, and vulnerabilities. Open your heart.
- Have common interests and share in social engagements and activities. Do an activity your partner enjoys even if it is not high on your list.
- Be emotionally intelligent; know your feelings and be willing to share them.
- Regulate your emotions; do not suppress and do not project.
- Validate your partner’s feelings. Emotions are real; do not ignore, dismiss, or try to change your partner’s feelings. It is diminishing, hurtful and emotionally abusive. Instead, accept your partner’s feelings and do your best to understand.
- Actively listen. Be present and look at them. Attune yourself to the other person. Notice their body language and the sound of their voice. Paraphrase back to them what they said. Validate their feelings and words. Ask for clarity if you do not understand. Show that you are interested in what they are saying. Don’t numb out.
Do Acts of Kindness
At the beginning of your relationship, you probably noticed the small gestures that gave your partner joy. You made their favorite meal, you tidied up your mess, you brought them tea or coffee, you planned a special outing and surprised them, you bought concert tickets to their favorite group and you made sure that when they had a tough day you turned off the television, sat with them and listened. The day-to-day kindnesses add up. Each time you do an act of generosity and kindness for your partner, you are adding the positive qualities of love and caring, which enhances your life and theirs.
“And in the End, the Love you Take is Equal to the Love You Make” ~ The Beatles
Value and Cherish Your Partner Every Day
The more you put into the relationship by being generous with your care and attention, the more safety and trust are enhanced. When you cherish your partner you are valuing your connection of Love.
Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a Psychotherapist, Certified Relational Life Therapist, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, and an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth. Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing for individuals and couples based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.
As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core. The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness.