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Is the Bare Minimum in a Relationship Enough to Make You Happy?

According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, making an effort in a relationship is positively associated with relationship satisfaction stability1. Unfortunately, effort making isn't really a big part of many relationships. 

Have you ever expected a lot but received too little from your partner? Or are you feeling unsatisfied with the treatment you’re getting? He could be doing just the bare minimum to keep you in the relationship. The truth is, romantic relationships should be easy but some people are unaware of this.

Sometimes, people opt to accept the bare minimum in their relationship. As such, they tend to make excuses for their partner. They do this because they feel he’s not so bad compared to some men who cheat or abuse their lovers. 

If a man is generally nice, that doesn’t mean he would sweep you off your feet. It’s common human decency. So, what’s the bare minimum in a relationship? If you’ve ever wondered what this phrase means, keep reading to understand its definition. 

What Is the Bare Minimum in a Relationship?

Bare minimum is a term used to describe the least good qualities you can give or receive from your partner in a healthy relationship. Some bare minimums include love, regular communication, respect, and thoughtful efforts from time to time. The list continues but it doesn’t mean that this will be the same in every relationship. 

The bare minimum meaning in a relationship is different in every relationship as expectations can vary from person to person. This could depend on personality, experiences from past relationships, core values, or individual desire to make the relationship work. 

For instance, a person who has something like a thriving business or active social life keeping them going may have a higher tolerance level compared to someone who just left a toxic relationship with nothing much to fall back to. 

So if you find yourself wanting something different than other women, you're a woman with different bare minimum standards. 

10 Examples of Bare Minimum in a Relationship

As much as you may have your preferences or expectations in a relationship, there are basic examples of standards in a relationship you should look forward to as the least to expect from your partner.

1. Healthy communication

healthy communication

One of the most crucial relationship standards is healthy communication. Communicating with your partner doesn’t mean you should use arguments or quarrels to express yourself. Handle every conflict as adults. This means you should avoid any form of passive aggression. 

You should feel free talking to your partner about anything; from your choices of clothes to the sex positions you both prefer. He should be your go-to person. If it’s a distant relationship, then it’s time to embrace technology. Call and text as often as you can. Also, respond to his calls and chats, or send a message when you can’t talk. 

2. Creating healthy boundaries

Every healthy relationship needs boundaries. It’s best if you both have time to do your own thing outside the relationship. There’s nothing wrong with hanging out with the girls while your partner goes out for drinks or games with the boys. 

It doesn’t stop you both from loving or caring for each other. It only helps you to rediscover yourselves and have something to talk about. That way you both experience different exciting things and could help you both to strengthen your bond.

3. Sex and physical touch

Relationships are not just about how you handle household finances or household duties, it’s also about having great sexual satisfaction. Why is this important? Intimacy brings a certain bond. It‘s also a time you get to understand if you truly connect with your partner or not. 

This doesn’t mean you should let intimacy be the lead of your relationship, especially if it’s not your bare minimum. Intimacy is an act of love and could affect other aspects of your relationship if not handled properly. For many people, this is a bare minimum in a relationship.

4. Giving sincere compliments 

Giving and appreciating sincere compliments is among relationship standards for lots of people. As minor as it may sound, many relationships have started and thrived with good lines of compliments. Giving compliments shows how involved your partner is with you. 

It shows that he’s not only dating you for selfish reasons, but has your interests at heart. He wants to see you happy. If he doesn’t do this and it’s your bare minimum, you should discuss it with him. 

5. Mutual respect for each other 

You deserve respect and the same applies to your partner. Having respect for each other doesn’t mean you should be afraid of speaking up when things go wrong. Avoid using abusive words or telling expensive jokes about your partner or anybody he has respect for. 

When you have mutual respect for each other, you will both apologize when you’re wrong and accept each other’s apology too. This is one of the bare minimum requirements in a relationship and it can only go wrong if either of the two partners has emotionally checked out. So, look out for this.

6. Interest in each other’s lives

interest in each other's lives

Your affairs or partner’s affairs include career life, businesses, daily life activities, health concerns, etc. Every partner should show interest in their significant other’s life. It’s one of the healthy relationship standards and should happen naturally if you’re emotionally invested in your partner. 

Your relationship should be a safe space where you explore your interests and thoughts, and motivate each other to grow as individuals. But this needs effort from both partners to make things work. This is a bare minimum in a relationship for a lot of people.

7. Spending quality time together

Spending quality is key in relationships. It shows you’re committed and would do anything you can to give your partner enough attention. Spending time with your partner includes having fun dates, talking about things you’re both interested in, or having a good intimate time. 

No matter how busy you are, you should spend time together, especially if you expect things to progress. This doesn’t include moments when he’s physically present but emotionally checked out. If your partner would rather spend his free time doing his own thing, it’s a red flag and you should talk to him about it.

8. Work together as a team

One thing you should always remember about your relationship is that you and your partner are a team. It’s you two against the world. Working as a team means that your partner is not only your lover but your best friend and someone you feel most comfortable with

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You should always have each other’s backs. This means you both should try to uplift each other in the presence of other people. You should compromise for each other, treat one another with respect and avoid getting other people involved in your relationship. 

9. Giving and receiving occasional thoughtful gifts

What is a relationship without thoughtful gifts? Gifts make people feel special. Although not everyone prioritizes this, imagine the smiles on people’s faces when they receive a package that they ordered themselves. 

They feel happy to receive something new. If they feel so happy for something they bought, imagine the joy they’ll have receiving this from their romantic partner. It’s not about the cost but the value of the gift. It’s the thoughts that count. It’s a beautiful thing to make your partner feel special and vice versa in your relationship. 

10. Practicing self-love

Whether you’re the victim of bare minimum in your relationship or not, you should learn the simple act of loving yourself before you can express love or tolerate someone else. 

When you know how to love yourself, you can easily extend it the same way to your partner. You also know when you’re worth more than how your partner treats you. So, don’t spend time and resources trying to make a man happy. 

11 Tips to Get Over the Bare Minimum in a Relationship

1. Be clear about what you want

Most people like to try out different relationships without knowing exactly what they want. When you’re only beginning to date, it’s okay to explore different options. But when you’ve had a few bad experiences, it’s best to be clear about what you want, so you don’t get the bare minimum in your relationship. 

If you can’t place it in your thoughts, you could write it down. Start by acknowledging the things your partner does which you appreciate. Do the same with things he does that you dislike. It will help you understand your feelings. 

This way you can clearly pinpoint the things you want and decide if you want to continue dating your partner or not. This is one way to have a healthy relationship and stop yourself from asking for the bare minimum in a relationship.

2. Express your feelings to trusted sources

express your feelings to trusted sources

Sometimes, navigating our feelings and love lives could be a hassle. This is why it’s usually advised for you to vent to trusted sources when things get difficult. Creating good relationship standards doesn’t mean you should carry the burden of your relationship without sharing it with others.

Learn to share your feelings with people like trusted friends or family members, so you remain mentally healthy. When you vent to others, it helps you understand yourself better and what you want from your relationship. 

You also see where you stand with your partner and know if you want the bare minimum from him or not. That’s because you’ll find the words to express how you really feel. 

3. Follow your instincts

Not everyone takes their intuition seriously, but you need to, especially when you’re in an unsatisfying relationship. If your partner does something that feels wrong, you should address it. If you also feel like you need to get something off your chest, do it. 

Sometimes, the things that bother people come from unresolved conflicts. Some people do not realize it until it’s late. So, go ahead and ask why he spends more time with his other female friends than he does with you. 

Tell him if you’re worried about something. If your instincts also say you can’t continue in the relationship, follow them. Just remember, whatever you do, don’t be violent. Take things slow as you’re trying to mend things between you and your partner.

4. Have a sincere discussion with your partner

Compromises are necessary in a relationship but this doesn’t mean you should always be the only person compromising because you want the best. Your partner should do the same too. A good relationship needs a hundred percent effort from both parties. 

You should stop putting yourself in a difficult situation and communicate with him as often as possible. That way, you relieve yourself of any future burden or heartache. If you want your partner to do more than just help with finances or household duties, you should tell him. 

This is healthy communication, which should be one of the relationship standards to prioritize in your love life. Being mute about your feelings will only make you feel bad in the long run. So, always find creative ways to discuss your worries with your partner.

5. Speak up and ask for what you want

Always remember to strive to get what you want. There’s no need to settle for something if it doesn’t sit well with you. Accepting the bare minimum in your relationship is like settling for nothing while you toil to make things work on your part. 

Men who give the bare minimum in relationships feel like they’re the only ones whose needs are a priority, which makes them entitled. This shouldn’t be the case. You deserve more and you should ask for it. 

It feels good to be the one expecting the good deeds in the relationship instead of compromising. This is one of the tips you need to get over the bare minimum in a relationship.

6. Set your standards

Whenever you feel like you’re getting less than what you want, whether it’s in a relationship or not, make a conscious effort to spell out your wants. Some men want you to spell out your needs. 

This could be frustrating, but if you want to keep dating your current partner and you want your relationship to work, you need to take the bold step and set your standards. Tell your partner exactly what you want. If you’re comfortable enough, you could tell him how you’ve felt in the relationship for the time you’ve been together. 

Tell him you want to have fun dates during his free time and receive random gifts from him, depending on what your bare minimum is. Don’t forget, putting yourself first is the first thing you need to make things work. 

7. Exercise a little patience

exercise a little patience

Patience is one of the key qualities you need to enjoy your relationship. Avoid putting so much pressure on yourself. If you’ve communicated your worries to your partner, you should give him some time to put in the effort and make your relationship grow. 

Remember, the aim of you being together is to work together as a team to improve your relationship without much trouble. So, while expecting your partner to correct his attitude, remember, his learning capacity is different from yours. 

What does this mean? You may be a fast learner but your partner may not. This means that it may take your partner some time to understand and portray the positive qualities you desire. Remember, patience is one of the most important examples of standards in a relationship.

8. Take some time away from your relationship

As hard as this may sound, sometimes you need space to breathe some fresh air and think clearly. That’s because some relationship decisions are best taken when you’re away from your partner. That way, your mind doesn’t get clouded and you don’t get intimidated whenever he’s physically present. 

You can think on your own without interruptions. You also get the opportunity to interact with other people at your getaway. You don’t have to openly tell him you need a break if you fear he’ll misunderstand you. 

You could just go on a vacation in a different city or spend some time in a different space, where you know you’ll hardly see your partner. Try to cut down on your communication with him during the time and get involved in other activities. This will help open your mind about many things.

9. Be yourself

Relationships are not meant to stress you out, but complement you as a person. When you plan to do something nice for your partner, you will either have a good or bad feeling about it. It’s okay to carry on if you feel good about it. 

If you feel bad, you may have to consider other alternatives. Try options that would bring a good feeling to you even when you’re not dating him anymore. Don’t stretch beyond your limit to please your partner if it stresses you.

For instance, if you want to surprise your partner with his favorite gadget but don’t feel good about it, don’t do it. It may be because you don’t have enough finances or the ordering process would be stressful. Find something else and ease into it. Stop putting yourself in situations that make you bleed emotionally and otherwise while he receives the goodwill without reciprocating.

10. Give yourself a timeframe

Everything and everyone has a period in which they exist. You don’t have forever to keep trying with one man. As much as men who give the bare minimum in a relationship feel like they’re the only ones whose feelings should be validated, you should give yourself the opportunity to validate your feelings too. 

You deserve the best and that’s what you should strive to get. Stop expecting things to improve when you clearly know the relationship won’t work. If you’ve tried your best to make your partner understand your relationship standards but he can’t do it, maybe it’s time to let go

Sometimes, you need to let some things go to be able to grow as a person. Stand up for yourself and set a timeframe in which you expect things to improve in your relationship. Remember, nobody else will do this for you.

11. Refer to other relationships

refer to other relationships

Sometimes, when things are really tough, it’s best to observe another successful relationship. Don’t get this wrong. No relationship is perfect, which means you shouldn’t compare yours to the ones that seem perfect on the outside. These include couples you see on social media or the ones you’ve never met.

Instead, look for the couples that made it work despite the challenging situations they faced. Feel free to ask them questions. You would notice that the happiest couples are those who made sacrifices and decisions to survive together. 

But to achieve this, your partner has to be willing to make this sacrifice. After your observation and analysis, you would have a deeper understanding of how your relationship should work. So, observe different couples and their relationship survival techniques.


Is the bare minimum enough in a relationship?

It depends on your preferences. Some people want love and commitment, some want a sexual partner, others want to have a partner they can show off to the society with no strings attached. If you want the first, then bare minimum will not be enough for you. But if your preferences are similar or fall into the last two categories, getting the bare minimum may not be an issue.

How do you know if your needs aren't being met?

When good things happen to you, you feel them. The same thing applies when bad things happen; you feel uncomfortable. So, if your needs are not being met in a relationship, you would know. You’ll find yourself complaining, nagging, or arguing with your partner about unnecessary things. If you’re not expressive, you could be unconsciously sad and sometimes, depressed.

What are the dangers of leaving the bare minimum?

There are no exact dangers of leaving the bare minimum except you’re someone who has fear of abandonment, loneliness or low self-esteem. These usually come from traumatic childhood experiences or any toxic relationship you’ve had in the past. These fears usually cause more fears that in turn, cause potential dangers. But in reality, there should be none if you face them.

How to communicate your needs better in a relationship?

Before you think of discussing anything with your partner, know exactly what you want to say to him first. Try as much as possible to be clear in your words. Tell him what is bothering you and how you think it can be resolved. Give him time to ask you questions if he sounds confused about anything you’re telling him. Treat him with respect as you would want to be treated.

In Conclusion

Surviving in a relationship with a partner who gives you the bare minimum is something most people can’t handle. If you find yourself this confused, please feel free to refer to the 10 examples and 11 tips mentioned above to guide you through the process. I hope this article answered some of your questions. If it did, please drop a comment and share it with others.

Utilize this tool to verify if he's truly who he claims to be
Whether you're married or just started dating someone, infidelity rates have risen by over 40% in the past 20 years, so your concerns are justified.

Do you want to find out if he's texting other women behind your back? Or if he has an active Tinder or dating profile? Or even worse, if he has a criminal record or is cheating on you?

This tool can help by uncovering hidden social media and dating profiles, photos, criminal records, and much more, potentially putting your doubts to rest.

1 Sources:
  1. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. (2014). Relationship Effort, Satisfaction, And Stability: Differences Across Union Type.

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