Forget Grand Gestures. Relationships Are Lost (or Won) in the Details.

two yellow stick figure sculptures. They are both smiling. The one on the left seems to be giving a white flower petal to the one on the right.
Image by Kate Ter Haar / CC BY

Practice yourself, for heaven’s sake in little things, and then proceed to greater.

-Epicetus

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We have more possibilities in each moment than we realize.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Forget Grand Gestures. Relationships Are Lost (or Won) in the Details.

The way that successful romantic relationships are framed is often very deceiving. Societally we put a lot of pressure on the grand gestures. The big moments. Celebrating anniversaries together with a big trip. Or a diamond necklace.

For one, I don’t know so many folks who can just conjure up a couple thousand bucks out of nowhere to demonstrate their commitment, Robin Leach style.

And truthfully? The Big Moments are not when relationships live or die. Instead, relationships are lost (or won) in the details. In the series of tiny interactions that make up our relationships.

A lover can be delighted or devastated over whether we seem happy to see them when they come home. Or are genuinely interested in what’s going on in their lives.

Do they make time for us to do what we’d like to do? Initiate physical contact? Brew our coffee when we wake up feeling half-dead in the morning? Send regular “good morning” texts?

Now, what someone needs to feel loved can vary depending on the individual, of course (for a popular example, please see the Love Languages framework). But what’s important to keep in mind is that the most effective way of building a strong relationship is a series of little things, not a large effort in the wake of a string of minor disappointments.

Even for folks who are very into gift-giving, a series of small thoughtful presents can mean a heck of a lot more than a rare, extravagant one.

Because it doesn’t matter how big the occasional highs are. Without an underlying base of feeling loved and appreciated, those grand gestures have a way of falling flat.

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My book is out!

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory

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