Love Is Sacrifice: Learning To Be Selfless In Your Relationship

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated August 11, 2022

Most people have experienced a form of love at some point in their life. They might have regarded it as a relatively trivial thing, a pleasurable sensation that they were able to enjoy without taking a whole lot of time to think about what went into it. That’s often how love is at first. You fall for someone, and when you’re dating initially, there is a sensation of it being free and easy. But if you care about someone for long enough and you’re with them for an extended period, you might end up discovering that love is sacrifice sometimes as well. Let’s talk about a few situations where your love for someone will lead to your putting their needs before your own.

Love Means Putting Someone Else Before You

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It is said that before you love someone else, you first must love and accept yourself. That may be a bit of an oversimplification, but the reality is that if you’re not comfortable in your skin, then you may have a difficult time opening up to a person and trusting them under the circumstances of a relationship. Once you get to that point, it is very special. It is a sign of maturity on your part when you’re able to tell your loved one anything, and you know that they’re going to stay with you without judging you or trying to control how you think and feel.

There is a step when it comes to love that is even further than that, though. It’s where you reach the point that you’re willing to put your partner’s wants and needs before your own. There are many forms that this might take. Some of them might not mean very much, like letting your spouse or partner have the last slice of pizza. It might mean allowing them to choose which movie you’re going to see or letting them select which restaurant you’re going to try.

These are seemingly little things, but they do add up. By doing things for your partner, it demonstrates how much you care for them and their happiness. It also means that you are willing to compromise in things that are important to you for the benefit of the relationship They should appreciate that and reciprocate. That’s how relationships last, and how you let each other know that the love is still there, even after you have been together for many years.

More Serious Things That You Can Do to Show That You Care

Beyond things like restaurant and movie choices, there is another tier of ways that you can show your partner how you feel about them. In this category, there might be some things that you don’t necessarily want to do, but you’re willing to do anyway because you know how much it will mean to the person you love.

For instance, you might not want to work an overtime shift at your job, but you sacrifice your free time and take it because you know that your family needs the money. Your partner will recognize when you do things like that, and in a healthy relationship, then they will appreciate your thoughtfulness and sacrificing. They will sense that you are putting them and your family first, and it means a lot.

Compromise also means that, for example, if you don’t get along with your in-laws or other relatives who are an integral part of your loved one’s family. Your partner knows that you would prefer not to spend the holidays with these people, but you have set aside your feelings because you know that it will please them.

You might come to pick up your loved one when they’ve dropped their car off at the shop rather than forcing them to take public transportation. Or they might compromise and take public transportation if you are tired or need to get some place else. If they are exhausted from work, then you might cook a gourmet several-course meal for them and entertain the kids while they relax. If they call you on their cell phone and say that their vehicle has a flat tire, you might spring into action to help them fix it. If they give you a list of chores to do around the house, you might not always want to handle it on your off day from work, but you’re still eager to do it because you know that it’s something that they want.

There are many more examples of sacrifices and compromises in a relationship, but you get the idea. Over your days together, you are demonstrating time and again that you’re willing to sacrifice and make compromises for your partner. You’re ready to sacrifice your time for them, or your attention, or whatever else it takes for them to be happy. It’s these little things that mean as much as any birthday or anniversary present you might buy for them, and hopefully, they do not take your efforts for granted.

Love Is Sacrifice:  The Ultimate Expressions of Caring

There are yet more things that you can do to show your loved one that you care about them, though. This level is beyond anything that we previously mentioned. One of the best examples is when you must take care of your loved one if they become seriously ill. Perhaps your loved one contracts a form of cancer where they need chemotherapy. It’s going to involve you taking them to and from the doctor and hospital facilities, likely many, many times. They might get some other disease that leaves them incapacitated. They may require surgery where you will need to modify your house or apartment and compromise parts of your space so that you can accommodate them.

It’s possible that your loved one might even contract a disease where they will lose control of their bodily functions to the point that you’ll need to clean up their waste. You might need to change their catheter or clean up after them if they can’t hold down any food. The fight for life sometimes is an unsightly one. You demonstrate through your actions in these situations much more eloquently than words how dedicated and willing to make sacrifices you are to someone you love.

Organ Donation

In some circumstances, one of your loved ones might have an organ that is failing. If you can contribute one of your own, then you might do that, even if it presents somewhat of a risk to your own life. To be willing to go under the knife for the person whom you love is truly one of the bravest and noblest sacrifices that you can do. It also proves to them beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love them, and you would do anything for them.

In Time, You May Need to Do Such Things

These might seem like extreme examples, and for a couple of lovers in their teens, this sense of compromise likely seem almost inconceivable. At that point, you feel invincible, like you have your whole lives ahead of you. The reality is, though, that health problems can come up at any time, so you should cherish the time that you have together. It could be sooner than you expect that you will have to prove your love in much more serious ways than you could ever have envisioned.

At the same time, even if you grow into old age with your loved one, and both of you stay in relatively good health, either you or they will inevitably experience some health problems toward the end of your life, which may involve big compromises and sacrifices from both parts. It’s not pleasant to think about, but the human body is like a vehicle. At an advanced age, the systems break down, and it’s the rare person who never experiences any problem at all and dies in their bed without having to deal with some degree of infirmity.

When you have health problems, your loved one can prove their compromise and devotion by taking care of you, and you can do the same by taking care of them. These forms of sacrifice are the most profound types. It’s a kind of love that may end up defining your last remaining years together.

Show Your Love Throughout Your Lives With Each Other

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The best thing to do as it relates to your love for each other is to make small sacrifices every day. You need not necessarily think of them that way if you would prefer not to. You can think of it more along the lines of helping each other, and allowing the other person to feel content. If neither of you ever has to make any monumental sacrifice for the other, then that’s great. It means that you’ve both been lucky. Still, it’s best to be realistic and understand that at some juncture, you might need to be prepared to go beyond anything that you’ve ever done before in terms of compromises.

Do You Need to Speak to Someone About a Sacrifice That You Are Making?

While it is noble and admirable think that love is sacrifice and giving up things that matter to you for your loved one, it’s seldom an easy thing to do when the more difficult decisions come along. Maybe you are caring for someone who is quite ill, and you are currently sacrificing your time, energy, and possibly even your financial resources as well to try and get them better. If you want to talk to someone about it all, you can reach out to a qualified mental health expert. It’s good to explain to someone what is happening and talk through your feelings. Sacrifice is a beautiful thing, but no one ever said that it was easy.

Recent research has shown that online therapy can help people who are experiencing difficult emotions, including those arising out of relationships. In a broad-based study published in World Psychiatry, researchers examined the effects of online therapy, and in particular cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). They concluded that online therapy is a more affordable, yet equally effective alternative to in-person therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps participants by replacing the intrusive thoughts that may be underlying harmful behaviors and interactions, such as issues with making sacrifices in relationships.

As mentioned above, online counseling can help you address a variety of concerns that may arise out of mental health or relationship issues. Because you can participate in therapy remotely, treatment through BetterHelp is often more private. You won’t have to worry about running into someone you know or discussing your treatment with anyone but your therapist. The mental health professionals at BetterHelp know how to provide you with the tools to build healthier relationships. Read below for reviews of counselors, from people who have sought treatment in the past.

Counselor Reviews

“Emily is a great listener and offers thoughtful insights about my relationships and behavioral patterns. She is easy to talk to and a pleasure to work with!”

“Stephanie is a gem! She’s very thoughtful, thorough, honest, insightful but most of all helpful. This is coming from a person that never wanted to do counseling and just “knew” I didn’t need it. She’s been key in helping my wife and I find our better place. She made us grow as a couple and individually. Thanks Steph!”


Ultimately, love is the driving force behind many of the most compromises and selfless actions that people take. You can show it in small and large ways, and the longer you are with someone, the more chances you’re likely to have to make some sacrifices. During the time you spend together, the love you have will grow. All of those sacrifices and lovely things that you’ve done for one another will form the intricate tapestry of your shared history.

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