Quiet Thriving Isn't Just For Your Job - Here's How It Can Transform Your Relationship

If your relationship could use a boost, quiet thriving might be the answer. A quick rundown for the uninitiated: The term coined by Psychotherapist Lesley Alderman in an article for The Washington Post is all about taking small, everyday actions to stay engaged at work. It's the antithesis of quiet quitting, where employees mentally check out from their work and do the minimum needed to keep their jobs — no more and no less.


Swapping quiet quitting for quiet thriving can lead to major benefits at work, according to some experts. "We are built to thrive as human beings – we are naturally inquisitive and even if we say we're happy just doing the bare minimum until something better comes along, deep down we feel that lack of purpose," Laura Ellera, a neuroscientist and success coach, shared with Glamour. She explained that quiet thriving allows employees to regain agency in their careers and break the self-imposed barriers holding them back.

The same can be said for romantic partners too. Here's how the quiet thriving concept works in relationships and how it could transform your bond with your significant other.

What quiet thriving means for couples

In the workplace, quiet thriving might involve speaking up more during meetings, taking breaks to prevent burnout, or making an effort to interact with co-workers — any subtle adjustment that makes a positive impact. The strategy is similar in relationships too. "In the context of a romantic relationship, quite thriving involves purposefully making small shifts in how you approach your relationship to increase your sense of connection," Dr. Sarah Melancon, a sociologist and clinical sexologist, told Scary Mommy. "While a week-long relationship retreat or taking an online course in communication can certainly be helpful for relationships, the quiet thriving approach is less about making a big splash and more about small, everyday choices or shifts in focus geared towards your well-being and how you show up in your relationship."


To thrive quietly in your love life, you might initiate more quality time or consciously pause before starting an argument. You can also personalize your approach based on your partner's needs. For example, if you know their work schedule is jam-packed, you can quietly take on some of their chores so they can relax when they arrive home.

Quiet thriving can include self-improvement too. While there's no substitute for two-way communication and couples counseling, working on yourself by reading self-help books, learning relationship skills, and speaking with a therapist can contribute to a healthier relationship.

Quiet thriving helps you focus on self-improvement

When you and your significant other have a fight, you might be quick to point the finger at them. But we all have blindspots, and there's likely a bad habit or two that you're contributing to the relationship. Next time you catch yourself blaming your partner for problems that arise, see it as an opportunity to practice quiet thriving and make small, behind-the-scenes adjustments to your own patterns.


As researcher and speaker Brené Brown explained in a talk for the RSA, "Blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain. It has an inverse relationship with accountability." She says that when people cast blame, they usually don't set healthy boundaries or ask for what they need — the tough but totally necessary actions that can make or break a relationship. Moreover, blame-shifting doesn't leave much space for people to recognize their wrongdoings and areas of improvement.

With a quiet thriving approach, it can be easier to acknowledge and take responsibility for your shortcomings rather than getting stuck in the blame game with your partner time and time again.

It can renew commitment in your relationship

Commitment is a lot more than agreeing to be a couple or saying "I do" at your wedding — it's an ongoing process. "In a relationship, commitment is a choice we make every single day, over and over again," relationship researchers John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman write in their book "Eight Dates to Keep Your Relationship Happy, Thriving and Lasting." "We choose it even when we are tired and overworked and stressed out," the authors note.


So what does everyday commitment really look like in a relationship? According to the Gottmans, it, unsurprisingly, can mean resisting the temptation to cheat with that person who slid into your DMs or that cute co-worker who just joined your team. But it also includes small actions like supporting your partner's new hobby or not phubbing them when talking — steps that align with the quiet thriving approach.

If you've noticed your attention wandering lately — whether in the direction of doomscrolling during date night or even towards a crush who caught your eye — a commitment to quiet thriving might also help reinvigorate commitment in your relationship.

Quiet thriving can reignite a lost spark

Early in your relationship, you and your significant other likely chose to thrive quietly without even noticing. If those days were eons ago, you might have since lost the romantic chemistry you once shared, but luckily, you can reignite the spark with some of the same small, affectionate gestures that brought you together when you were newly dating.


A 2013 survey report published online by The Open University concluded that thoughtful acts of kindness, like making a partner a cup of tea, significantly impact a relationship. Meanwhile, generic gifts like roses and chocolates are thought to be less meaningful to most couples. These findings are a reminder that quiet thriving — in the form of saying "I love you," making time for deep conversations or doing simple favors for each other, for instance — can often be enough to rekindle the passion you once felt. According to the survey researchers, the key is to stick to actions that feel authentic and important to you and your significant other, no matter how small they may be.

It might resolve relationship problems

The workplace version of quiet thriving involves taking an unfulfilling job and finding ways to make the best of it. It can even help employees see that a "crappy" job wasn't so bad. The method can have a similar effect in romantic relationships, too.


Let's say you tend to react to problems with your boo in not-so-healthy ways. Maybe you've slipped into quiet quitting in your relationship, where you minimize your effort to protect yourself. However, as relationship therapist Elizabeth Earnshaw told Well+Good, "Quiet quitting isn't just unfair to you; it's also unfair to the person who is stuck alongside you in this holding pattern." If you've avoided the quiet quitting route, maybe you've turned to nagging and lecturing instead. This approach, too, can have dire consequences. In an article for PsychCentral, Dr. Nadia Persun wrote that incessant lecturing (which she calls "Woodpecker Syndrome") often triggers the other partner to withdraw, resulting in a cycle of unresolved conflicts.


Quiet thriving is an alternative to both passivity and aggression, and it honors the fact that you can't change your significant other but can always better yourself. Replacing quiet quitting with introspection and scolding with clear boundaries can set the tone for your relationship. If you realize that your relationship is still on the rocks after you've embraced quiet thriving, it may be a sign that you're better off ending things and thriving on your own instead.