It’s Valentine’s Day. I hope it’s a happy one for you regardless of your relationship status.
So many single folks can feel left out on this day, yet the truth is being in a relationship doesn’t guarantee happiness or love. I’m a therapist and relationship coach and work with lots of couples in distress.
I’ve had many young single people tell me they have never seen a happy relationship or marriage and have no role model for what that looks like.
This was shocking to me the first time I heard it. Yet, I kept hearing this over and over and the reality sunk in. Relationships can be tough. Finding real, lasting, true love is a blessing, not a given. My young clients often feel doubtful they will ever find a happy marriage for themselves, yet they continue to bravely look while working on their blocks, doubts and fears.
I try and provide encouragement. I assure them happy marriages and relationships do exist and that this is possible for them, too. Yet, truthfully, I don’t know too many of these relationships myself. Why is it so hard to find, and to maintain, once we do find someone to love?
There are so many reasons and this is just a simple blog, not a book, but I will note a few things I find to be true.
- We expect someone else to make us happy
We have been raised in a culture that feeds us a lie. It teaches us to look outside ourselves for happiness. It teaches us that at a basic fundamental level, we are not enough, deficient, broken, and in need of major fixing. We don’t know how to heal our broken hearts so we look for someone to make us feel better. It’s not their job. That’s too much pressure for someone else. They probably have a broken heart, too. This creates a codependent relationship in which both partners try to fix the other person while they really need to heal themselves.
- We don’t know how to communicate
I see couples who tell me they don’t talk to each for even 5 minutes per day. They are too busy. They don’t know what they feel, what they want, how they want to spend their time, and what their dreams are for the future. They stay busy to numb out and miss the whole point of being together. This doesn’t lead to happiness. It leads to infidelity, addictions, obesity, depression and a host of other things. Learn to talk. Share your feelings. Take the risk. We are all hungering to be seen, heard and loved.
- We lack self-love
This is a variation on #1, but it is epidemic. We are so hard on ourselves. Many of us have never experienced unconditionally loving parents because they never got the love they needed and didn’t know how to give love. As a result, we experience self-rejection and self-loathing. It gets passed from generation to generation. It’s called the chain of pain. We walk around wondering what’s wrong with us. It’s hard to not take it so personally that we didn’t get the love we needed, but it probably wasn’t our fault. Everyone is loveable. Try not to take it so personally and learn to give to yourself the love you desire from someone else. Start small and see how it grows.
These are some basic tips for a complicated problem, but we have to start somewhere.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, practice a little self-love. That’s the only love you can really rely on.
And, remember, love is all around us. It comes in all shapes and forms. Sometimes we have to look for it in unconventional ways. It can be the small gestures from a friend, neighbor or stranger, the unconditional love from our pets or the love we feel while in nature, swimming in the ocean, seeing a beautiful sunset or eating a great meal.
Spread the love. Love yourself and pass it on to someone else on this Valentine’s Day.