Ahh, Valentine's Day - the perfect opportunity to talk about relationships.
Relationships are nothing short of magical. And tragic. They are a source of immense pleasure! But oh-so-deep pain.
We long for them when we don't have them, and sometimes we long to be out of them when we do have them.
Before you say, but wait, I'm single! Valentine's day means nothing to me! Let me remind you - you're still in a relationship with yourself. Remember, the real reason why you're not fulfilled is because of that relationship, not because you don't have a significant other. If you're looking for someone to come along and save you, it won't be long before you get tired of them and want something or someone else.
But no matter what your predicament is, Valentine's Day is a good time to remind yourself that relationships are about more than just candy hearts and sappy poems. All of those are great, and make us feel tingly inside, but they are as fluffy as the marshmallows that you eat with your chocolates. They are what I would call style.
If you want to have a truly strong, passionate, and ever-lasting relationship, you need to focus on the substance - that is, love, commitment, passion, growth, and contribution.
Relationships thrive when each partner is focused on what they give, not what they get.
Don't get me wrong, giving the little things like flowers and chocolates is an integral part of any romantic relationship. However, my point is that most people show up in relationships expecting to get something. And when they're focused on what they're getting, or in many cases not getting, they suffer and forget to focus on what they're giving their partner.
Being in a committed relationship myself, I know this to be very true. In my case, it has become clear to me that the times I suffer the most are when I'm focused on myself and what I'm getting versus on my partner and what I'm giving. I know that because when I shift my focus to how can I make this girl the happiest girl on Earth? my eyes light up and I experience a sense of passion that I otherwise don't feel.
Those of us who are in romantic relationships have an amazing ability to foster another person's growth and to constantly put a smile on someone's face. That's truly special and it's something we should all cherish.
Here are three practical actions you can take to have the best Valentine's Day while also improving your love life.
1. Just focus on putting a smile on your partner's face.
The next time you're with your partner, whether it's for 5 minutes or 5 hours, put your needs aside and focus on giving them what they need. If it's space, give them space. If it's cuddles, go in and cuddle. If it's sex and you're not in the moment, well, do your best to help them, ya know, do their thing. Whatever it is you think they need, temporarily put your needs aside and dedicate that time to giving them that thing.
If you're not sure what they need, just ask. Preface it with something like, "I want to give you whatever you need now, so just let me know and I'll make sure to do it." Pay attention to body language or behavioral cues as well. Oftentimes what we say is much less important than how we say it, or what we don't say.
If you're single, then put a smile on your own face. Literally - just smile. You could also do something you committed to doing, but have put off for a while. You could exercise and feed your body with proper nutrition. Show yourself some love. I wrote another post on self-love, and why it isn't what most people think it is. Check that out to learn what real self-love is.
2. Do one thing you normally wouldn't do that would make your partner's day better.
Are you the type to leave dirty dishes out? It's okay, we all do occasionally. But this time, take the extra 5 minutes to clean up the mess you typically leave overnight.
Are they prepping for a big project or presentation? Help them by giving them a clean workspace and preparing a meal before they get home.
Think about what they're going through and what would make their life just a little bit easier. And then do that for them.
Don't tell them you're doing it either. And definitely don't do it with expectation. Just do it and move on.
3. When you feel yourself get triggered by something they do, immediately think of something you're grateful for that they've given you.
We all get triggered by our significant others. Oftentimes it doesn't even have anything to do with them, and everything to do with the state we're in when we see them. Either way, something inevitably happens that blows our gasket and we flip out.
Pay attention to when your anger starts to bubble, or your insecurities rise. As soon as you notice them, think about something you can be grateful for.
If this is hard, remember that love brought you together in the first place. Love is the reason you're standing in each other's presence.
Remember neither of you is out to hurt the other one. You're doing the best you can with what you've got in the moment. It may not be perfect, but neither of you are malicious. You're simply two humans who love each other and want to feel good, but don't necessarily know how to all the time.
Breathe, relax, and be thankful for the gift in front of you that is your significant other.
Single folks, you can be grateful for your own heartbeat too, you know.
A final note to end with.
While relationships are the juice of life, remember that your problems are your problems, so you need to go inward to fix them rather than expecting someone else to do it for you.
No matter what you achieve, who you marry, what career you take on, or where you live, you'll never find that sense of inner well-being by changing your external conditions.
Relationships are no different. Your partner might give you everything - they might shower you with love, light you on fire with passion, and always have your back. But you're still you, and you still have the same internal issues that you had before you met them. Until you're willing to acknowledge that your fulfillment stems from within, you will always be searching, in vain, for that next thing to make you happy.
Live with substance!
P.S. I'm curious to know how you guys show love on Valentine's Day. If you try any of my suggestions with your partner (or yourself), I'd love to know how it goes. Leave your comments below and share this to a friend who could use a Valentine's Day gift!