The Essence of Loyalty in Romance
When it comes to what encompasses the quality of a romantic interpersonal connection, it is loyalty (emotional, physical, psychological) that is unique in acting as a moral code; a value to hold dearly and return back to when we face relational challenges, over and over again. But what is loyalty? How can it be demonstrated in an intimate relationship?
Invisible Support Strengths Bonds
Loyalty can be conveyed as providing consistent emotional support, when your partner is brave and willing enough to ask for it, and even more so when they don’t (invisible support). Providing invisible support relies heavily on your own self-awareness which then fosters awareness of your partner. It is the subtle, nonobvious altruistic act of strengthening your romantic bond by noticing your partner’s needs, allowing them to feel heard, seen, protected, respected, and loved, while being secure enough to not need recognition or credit.
"Actions speak louder than words!"
What are some ways that we can provide invisible support? Below are a few examples. As you read through, see if you can come up with any of your own examples specific to your romantic partner’s unique needs.
Doing household chores that are not normally your responsibility.
Having dinner prepared and ready to eat before your partner gets home from a day's work.
Folding the laundry in the basket that has been sitting there out of the dryer for days.
Filling your partner’s gas tank.
Saying “yes” to watching a show that your partner likes, even though it may not be your first choice.
Simply showing up for your partner, allowing them to vent and talk, while resisting the urge to problem solve. Simply being there, open and authentically listening, holding their hand, offering a hug, and saying “I love you.”
Engaging in healthy behaviors together, especially when you notice your partner is feeling burnt out, such as sleeping in when possible; exercising together; cooking healthy meals with each other; suggesting that you need a date night or a weekend away to rest and relax.
Happy Valentines Day!
The act of being a loyal partner is necessary to build foundational trust and the feeling of safety and security in a relationship. With loyalty comes liberation – and the ability for each partner to share their own vulnerable, personal self-narrative without shame, with true freedom. The best relationships increase our quality of life and make life better, and the best partners can help make this happen in ways that we may never see.
Cheers to your effort in engaging in invisible support in your own romantic relationship this Valentine’s Day and beyond!
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Peace, Love, & Fierce Acceptance
Dr. Amanda Aster-McKenna, Psy.D.
NJ Licensed Psychologist #5888, Private Practice, Montclair, NJ
Adjunct Professor, Kean University, Department of Advanced Studies in Psychology
Board Member, Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris