Let’s face it, each year Valentine’s Day rolls around, and our feelings about it change based on our relationship status. If we’re with someone, it’s a day to celebrate and go crazy booking a table at our favorite restaurant, or flowers and chocolates. If we’re single, its a day of misery and a constant reminder of our loneliness, and drudgery.
At my practice, this week is an interesting one. I’ve had clients come in and talk about their glorious relationships and the accompanying pride and joy that has come with the turmoil of trying to make it work. I’ve also talked to others for whom relationships have not worked out and are a complete mystery. Single clients who struggle with loneliness and managing familial expectations and married clients, some of who look at Valentines Day with trepidation and the knowledge that love is hard work!
Because we can sometimes go in and out of relationships and not really know or understand what’s getting in the way of making it last or why we or someone else walks away or refuses to, it’s important to look at what YOU bring to the table. And so, this article is less about other people and more about you and what you may need to be.
1. How responsible and accountable are you? Are you creating and establishing friendships based on trust and communication? Do you keep your word? Do you call when you say you will call? Can your partner expect that you will stick to what you say? Are you loyal and faithful? Looking at our behavior in an introspective way can go a long way in not playing the blame game or seeing ourselves as the person to whom things “happen”, but instead seeing our very active role in things. When we’re dating or even when we’re in a relationship, this is especially important because no one wants to be with a “flake”, or someone who says one thing but does another.
2. What do YOU bring to the table? We can at times focus a lot on what is lacking in the other. They never call or they’re not making enough money, or they’re too busy with their work, or they don’t show too much affection or are boring. We can sometimes focus too much on a person’s looks, job, and background. Relationships are about balance and we are very much a part of that balance. Maybe your friend is well connected and always has interesting stories and maybe you’re funny. Perhaps you bring sophistication, wealth and kindness to the relationship and perhaps your partner brings compassion, generosity, and intelligence. Keep the focus on you and have realistic expectations of your partner. Don’t clutch too furiously to your deal breaker list.
3. How generous are you with others? In this busy, self-promoting, social-media heavy world, it’s easy to forget that other people also have problems and needs. That it’s not always about us and what we want. So, take the time to let your friend/partner talk for a change. Ask them about their life, take an interest in their work or family. If you tend to have one-sided friendships/relationships, it’s time to be more of a ‘giver’. Develop an interest in others–what are they excited about. Talk to them about their stuff. Get to know them better. Technology and Social media are great but those likes and comments will not bring you companionship and neither will your 1000 facebook friends. Call other people and connect with them. Don’t always wait for people to call you.
To sum things up, (and this is by no means an easy feat) let the spotlight be on others, celebrate others, compliment others and their achievements. Look for the good in others and above all else, be kind. And whether you find the love of your life around Valentine’s Day or not, keep your sense of humor. You have another 364 days to work on it.