Having self-compassion may just be the key to healthier relationships, according to a new study.
It’s well established that having self-compassion can improve your well-being, and new research has found that exercising forgiveness towards yourself can also make your relationship happier and healthier.
The new study, conducted by researchers at the Otto Friedrich University Bamberg and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), surveyed 209 heterosexual couples and found that when people are accepting of their own shortcomings and failures in a relationship, it benefits themselves, the relationship, and their partner's relationship satisfaction.
"Self-compassion is the act of having a caring, kind and attentive attitude towards oneself — especially with regard to your own shortcomings," said lead author Dr. Robert Körner of the University of Bamberg in a news release.
In general, research has shown that higher levels of self-compassion are linked to increased feelings of happiness, optimism, curiosity, and connectedness, as well as decreased anxiety, depression, rumination, and fear of failure.
The study’s findings, published in the journal Personal Relationships, demonstrate that these benefits extend to relationships, too.
"We found that one’s ability to react compassionately to one’s own inadequacies, suffering and pain in the relationship benefits both members of the couple,” Körner said.
Using a comprehensive survey, the researchers asked participants how sexually satisfied they were, what long-term potential they attributed to their relationship, and whether they felt they could fully trust their partner, among other questions.
Highly self-compassionate individuals reported investing more into their relationship and experiencing higher sexual fulfillment, evaluated their relationship as enduring and as having potential, reported less mistrust, and reported feeling constrained less often.
"Two people benefit when individuals are able to care for themselves in terms of experienced inadequacies, suffering, and pain," the authors wrote. "In this manner, it is not just one's own love life that can flourish but also that of one's partner."
- Personal Relationships. Is caring for oneself relevant to happy relationship functioning? Exploring associations between self-compassion and romantic relationship satisfaction in actors and partners.
- Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg. Couples: Caring for oneself can lead to happier relationships – on both sides.
- Human Development. The role of self-compassion in development: A healthier way to relate to oneself