How nurturing a person is probably isn’t something you spend a lot of time thinking about. But when it comes to finding a romantic partner, this trait is extremely important. A nurturing person engages in several different types of behaviors that make those around them feel valued and secure. The point is important because finding a partner who wants to nurture – who automatically nurtures without being asked – can make the difference between a relationship lasting or ending. Too often, men and women realize after a breakup that the person they dated was missing this crucial trait. Spend a few minutes thinking about this now so that you can learn to recognize this amazing quality quickly.
How does someone nurture? There are several ways to show nurturing behavior. Take a look at the ways to nurture below, and ask yourself which ones are most important to you.
Someone who is nurturing is a good listener.
While that individual is sitting there listening to you, it may seem as if they aren’t actually doing a lot. But a good listener holds eye contact, asks questions, and shows empathy. You can see how well they listen by the way their facial expressions change as you talk. People who are nurturing enjoy making others feel good and comforted, and they strive to listen well to others so they can make the other person feel cared about and special. Take a moment and ask yourself this: How good a listener was my ex?
Someone who is nurturing shows warm, physical affection.
The warm affection I’m talking about isn’t sexual. I’m talking about rubbing another’s shoulders or back, holding hands, or offering a massage or foot rub. Physical affection is a great way for two members of a couple to stay connected, and men and women who are physically affectionate engage in this behavior because they think about the other’s person’s feelings – and they feel good when they make someone they care about feel good. Think about your own checklist for partners. How much do you look for someone who is naturally a physically affectionate person?
Someone who is nurturing manages routine tasks or to-do lists for the two of you.
In many couples, one person handles a lot of mundane, routine tasks that often go unnoticed – or even unappreciated – by the other partner. These tasks are managed privately, and there isn’t usually a big show at the end where he or she can say, “Look what I did for us!” It’s not like keeping everything paid on time is the same thing as organizing the garage or painting the family room, activities which render an automatic “Wow!” or “Thank you!” when the work is done. Similarly, in many couples, one of the members of the couple is totally content to take a to-do list and pick up everything that is needed from who-knows-how-many stores. Don’t let this type of nurturance go unnoticed or unappreciated. Men and women who take on these responsibilities are nurturing others in their own way. In a couple, each person must make their own contributions, but couples last more happily and longer when everyone values the unique contributions – or ways of nurturing – of the other person.
They are emotional cheerleaders and self-esteem boosters.
If you have a good partner, that person always wants to build you up and make you feel good. If you’re upset or you’re questioning taking on a new challenge, partners who are nurturing in this way will always be there to encourage you, remind you that you can do it, and focus on the positives. Men and women who act as cheerleaders in relationships are bonafide nurturers, and one thing that everyone loves is someone who makes them feel good and positive. If you want to know if someone is nurturing in this way, watch their reaction when you tell them something good or bad happened to you. Ultimately, you want to be with someone who feels positive about himself or herself because individuals who like themselves will always treat their partners better and nurture them more than the rest.
Someone who is nurturing prepares meals and keeps things clean and organized.
You can’t underestimate the value of someone who makes you a nice meal, clean things up, or does laundry. Believe it or not, some men and women actually like doing these activities because they like nurturing in this way. Perhaps they aren’t emotional cheerleaders or regular givers of physical affection, but they have their own way of showing love and caring. Random question: Is the cooking part maybe the most ideal nurturing trait of all?
Someone who is nurturing is financially generous.
This point is obvious enough that we don’t need to spend much time exploring it. Here’s an example of how someone shows financially nurturing behavior: “I make more money than you, so I want to pay more.” Financial nurturance isn’t about designer watches or fancy trips to exotic locales. It’s about wanting to share your money with the people you care about, and feeling good nurturing people in that way.
The takeaway message…
When you meet someone new, or when you’re trying to decide if the person you’re dating is a keeper, ask yourself how nurturing that person is overall. Among this list, which ways does this person nurture you? Moreover, which ways do you nurture your dates?
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.