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Healthy Relationships Begin with Self-Compassion

Jonathan Riley

“Love is a two-way street constantly under construction.” – Carroll Bryant

Over the last decade, research has consistently shown a positive correlation between self-compassion and psychological well-being. Research has shown people who have self-compassion also have greater social connectedness, emotional intelligence, happiness, and overall life satisfaction. Self-compassion has been shown to correlate with less anxiety, depression, shame, and fear of failure. According to studies, self-compassion improves not only our feelings towards ourselves, but also our relationships with others.

Educational psychologists Kristin Neff and Tasha Beretvas found that practicing self-compassion not only makes people happier and healthier, but it is also a good predictor of healthy romantic relationships. They found that being kind and supportive to ourselves helps us to be kinder and more supportive to those we care about, which goes against traditional views on relationship satisfaction. The study discovered that how caring, accepting, and supportive a person is of their partner is predicted by their level of self-compassion. A person’s levels of self-compassion was linked to personal well-being, making them feel more authentic and happier in a relationship (Neff & Beretvas, 2013). Self-compassionate people were also described by their partners as being significantly more affectionate, intimate, and accepting in their relationships, as well as allowing their partners more freedom and autonomy.

The University of Texas (2012) concluded that people who had more self-compassionate partners also reported being happier in their relationships than those who had partners who were harshly judgmental of themselves. Neff reported that people who practice self-compassion are better able to admit their mistakes, and recognise that imperfection is part of the shared human experience. Also, by providing emotional support and validation to themselves through self-compassion, they become less reliant on their partners to meet all of their needs, allowing them to be more generous and giving to their partner.

Research by University of Mississippi (2016) found that people with higher levels of self-compassion are more likely to accept their partner’s limitations because they accept themselves as imperfect human beings. Self-compassionate people are also more willing to give their partners the freedom they need to be happy because they are kind and caring to themselves. Moreover, self-compassionate people are more likely to accept responsibility for their mistakes because they accept that they are flawed and imperfect, making relationship conflicts easier to resolve.

People with lower levels of self-compassion, on the other hand, were described by their partners as being significantly more detached in their relationships in the study. People with lower levels of self-compassion were described by partners as being significantly more controlling, detached, domineering and verbally aggressive (The University of Texas, 2012). Being self-critical, feeling isolated, and ruminating on negative self-related emotions was found to lead to a type of self-absorption that blocked intimacy and connection in relationships (Jacobson, 2016). Furthermore, those who lacked self-compassion were also reported to be significantly more controlling and domineering with their partners, implying that they were less willing to accept or allow their partners to do things their way.

In conclusion, there are a variety of reasons why people who practice self-compassion tend to have healthier romantic relationships than people who have a low level of self-compassion. As a result of their nonjudgmental awareness of negative thoughts and emotions, people with high levels of self-compassion are more likely to bring that same sense of mindfulness to resolving disagreements within their relationships. Because self-compassionate people can meet their own needs for comfort, kindness, and belonging to a large extent, they are able to do the same for their partners.


Jacobson , E. (2016). Investigating The Relation Between Self-Compassion And … University of Mississippi.

Neff, K. D., & Beretvas, S. N. (2013). The Role of Self-compassion in Romantic Relationships. Self and Identity, 12(1), 78–98.

The University of Texas. (2012, October 8). People with Self-Compassion Make Better Relationship Partners. UT News.