Matters of love, relationships and Valentine’s Day

Originally I was going to write a blog about how to cope with Valentine’s Day nonsense if your romantic life is less than stellar but I’m glad I didn’t have time to do it because it gave me an opportunity to think a little bit more about what I wanted to say.  Instead of learning to cope with Valentine’s Day, I really think the bigger issue is learning to cope with life not going exactly as you planned it.  I know plenty about that and I think I can impart some wisdom that will help other people.  First I’ll talk to the women in relationships and then I’ll talk to the single women.

I usually see people, especially women, bemoaning the lack of romance during the time leading up to Valentine’s Day and how miserable that they make them feel.  Admittedly, I have been one of those people at times, but thinking about it logically actually does the heart a great service during times when romance seems to be shoved down our throats.  I see a lot of questioning in the readings that people ask me to do for them that concern when and how they will meet “the one” and live happily ever after.  Usually people think those are kinds of questions that women ask but the truth is I have a lot of male clients asking the same questions as well.  It’s important to remember that as much as you may feel alone, there are so many men out there who feel the exact same way.  Women are not holding the monopoly on emotions.  I think that’s a big reason why women feel like they are alone because they don’t think men have an ability to feel anything beyond sex, food and sleep.  I can tell you from personal experience of doing readings for several years, just as many men are concerned about finding commitment as women are, but they are not so prone to airing their emotional laundry.  That’s the basic difference between men and women: women will verbalize exactly what they’re feeling every possible moment, while men feel the exact same things quite often but they don’t verbalize it.

That’s my first piece of advice for women.  Just because a man is not verbalizing his feelings like you do, does not mean he doesn’t feel anything.  The natural state of the soul is to give and receive love.  That doesn’t matter if the soul is male or female.

From what I can tell, the reason why men seem to hate Valentine’s Day so much and women seem to love it so much is because the holiday is, truthfully, very imbalanced.  From the female perspective in the majority of cases – not all cases – the holiday is about gimme, gimme, gimme, prove you love me.  From the male perspective in the majority of cases – not all cases – the holiday is about knowing he’s not going to live up to his woman’s expectations, making the whole thing more of a chore than an act of love.  A lot of women are prone to the fairytale idea that they should be treated like queens and their men should be nothing short of Prince Charming.  This is not to say that women are spoiled by nature.  Not at all.  Far from it.  However, there is something to be said for all the fairytales we are fed as little girls followed by the romantic movies we watch as grown women having a psychological effect on what we expect from relationships with romantic partners.  Valentine’s Day has evolved into women expecting an ostentatious display of love from their men that couldn’t possibly be so perfect as what is scripted in novels, film and television.

One thing I have really, really noticed in my adult life through the way women and men interact with each other is that men actually do try to do things that they consider to be displays of love, however, women totally miss those things because they have different ideas built up in their own minds.  I have been guilty of this in the past as well.  Women need to learn to think like men little bit more often so that they can see how much effort men put into their own kinds of displays of affection.  Their ideas are different because they are wired to be providers.  It’s biological going all the way back to caveman days.  So when doing something like emptying the dishwasher without being asked, taking out the garbage without being asked, bringing home something useful for you without being asked, and so on and so forth is done, it’s their way of saying, “I love you and his family and this is my way of showing it.”  But most women don’t even seem to recognize those things because those are everyday things that they are already doing and displays of love, to them, should be unique and expressive.

Remember I’m not saying women are to blame for all this buildup to nothing on Valentine’s Day.  I am saying that men and women think differently, they are biologically wired differently, and therefore, there is a lot of miscommunication and things being lost in translation that leads to unnecessary arguments and hurt feelings.  We as women usually expect men to be very sensitive to our feelings and aware of what we’re thinking all the time.  In my opinion, that street should go both ways.  The more love, praise, gratitude and support you offer your romantic partner, the more you are to receive in return.  So when you see that your man is in provider mode and doing those things that may seem miniscule to you, don’t verbalize it.  Thank him for doing whatever it is he did.  Think of it this way.

Starting a fight –
Man: “I cleaned up the kitchen.”
Woman: “Oh, you mean you did something without me pestering you to do it for days?  I’m shocked!”

Showing mutual love and gratitude –
Man: “I cleaned up the kitchen.”
Woman: “Thank you.”

Do you see what’s happening there?  The act of taking care of something to save you a little time gets met with sarcasm more often than it should.  I’ve heard that conversation more times than I can count from so many different women in my life and even those who are not technically in my life as well.  A simple thank you goes a long way.  I even see my grandmother doing this to my uncle and they are not romantically connected, obviously!  Remove sarcasm and bitterness as much as you can from your daily language and you will see a huge difference in the way people interact with you, not just your romantic partners.  Life is incredibly difficult and people don’t always respect each other as much as they should but don’t be concerned about who is respecting you and who is not.  Don’t feel like you have to be a fighter.  Don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

You are not in a relationship with Prince Charming.

You are in a relationship with a flesh and blood man who has qualities that you love and you should be looking at him for exactly who he is, not what you hope he will become through forced change.

A relationship is only as successful as the equal amounts of effort, affection and support that both parties put into it.  Once the relationship becomes imbalanced in some way, then things start to fall apart.  So if you expect your man to do sweet romantic gestures on days like Valentine’s Day, then you should also be doing something that he would consider romantic or supportive.  Don’t do something YOU want.  Do something HE wants.  There’s a big difference.  If he is putting in the effort to show you affection in the way that you want, you must absolutely reciprocate in ways that he would want.  Sometimes it’s just as simple as making his favorite dinner or putting in the effort to show interest in his things like watching sports together or something.  (I used sports as an example because I hate watching sports but I would put in the effort to try and take an interest in it in order to be supportive of my man’s hobbies.)  You want to have him show you that he loves you for you and your unique qualities.  Show him the same thing.  Be an advocate for mutual Valentine’s Days and I promise you things will go a lot better.

In general, however, I am not a big fan of Valentine’s Day even when I am in a relationship just because it puts too much pressure on both people to prove that they are in love for that 24-hour period.  The truth is if you are honestly in love, happy and fulfilled by your relationship, you don’t need that one day to show proof of it.  You should be putting in that much effort every day to maintain the quality of your relationship, but I realize that a lot of women think Valentine’s Day is important, so that’s why I gave so much advice about it.  It takes so much more than one day out of the year to express and maintain a level of love that can sustain a relationship for years and years.  The most successful relationships, if you notice, are by people who often say, “We don’t really bother with Valentine’s Day because we work on showing love every day.”  That should be the real goal here, not a silly holiday that usually just makes people end up feeling sorry for themselves by the end of it.  It’s just a 24-hour day like any other day but because the greeting card companies and candy companies decided it should be a holiday, suddenly people everywhere feel sorry for themselves when they don’t have someone to give them those things.

Think about it logically: flowers die within a few days, a box of chocolates will only last about a week, a romantic dinner is just one night and usually very overpriced.  Why are you beating yourself up over not having these things for one day a year when you are well aware that most couples end up fighting on that day anyway?  Someone will inevitably screw it up for the reasons I listed above.  Are those little things for one day a year really that important to you that you will spend the entire day feeling so much less than you’re worth?  Don’t let it change your self-worth.  It’s just a day.  You’re falling victim to the commercialization of romance by allowing yourself to feel bad about it.

That brings me to talking to the single girls out there.  Here’s the thing about being single.  Every time I do a reading for a single woman who is asking when she will meet that perfect guy, the results are almost always the same.  There is a reason why you’re single right now.  You are not ready for a relationship at this moment in your life.  If you were, you would have one.  Just about every reading I do concerning this topic leads to the same conclusion, that the woman in question is not in a good enough place of independence, strong mind, strong heart, financial security, time to invest in someone else, and so on and so forth.  A lot of women are trying to rush getting into a committed relationship when they are not even finished with their education, when they’re not even living on their own, when they are not comfortable in their own skin, and things of that nature.  It’s the same for men.  If there is too much work to be done on yourself for the moment, the universe has a way of protecting you from digging yourself further into the hole by saving that committed relationship for a time in your life when you can really invest into it and appreciate it from a much more stable place.  You will be a much more attractive prize to a man when you are educated, independent, comfortable with yourself, and you don’t actually need him to survive.  Being in a committed relationship should enhance your life, not complete it.  If you are looking for a relationship to complete your life, whether it’s subconscious or not, it’s probably not going to happen for you at that moment and if it does, the relationship will not be a lasting one.  Basically what I’m saying is there’s a reason for everything.  If you’re single right now, there’s a reason for it.  If you’re in a relationship right now, there’s a reason for it, even if it’s a bad relationship or a good relationship.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of women settling out there when they reach a point of feeling like they’re never going to meet “the one”.  I did this once.  I settled.  I ended up being mentally, emotionally, physically and sexually abused, and I stayed for much longer than I should have because society teaches people to stay no matter what.  There is almost a, “You chose this life, now you have to see it through,” attitude when it comes to whether or not to stay or leave a committed relationship.  Look at Kim Kardashian.  Let’s say for arguments sake that she didn’t get married for the profit and media coverage.  Let’s say that it was an honest mistake.  The reality is, women like her get into trouble because they settle.  They’re in love with the IDEA of love and marriage, so they grab whatever guy comes along and put him into the slot of groom and convince themselves that they are actually in love with him.  Many of them do it out of fear of being alone.  Many of them do it because they had planned to be married and settled by a certain age.  If they don’t have that marriage, white picket fence, children and a dog, they feel like failures.  So what’s happening is they are projecting their own insecurities on men, love and marriage, and they are making themselves even more miserable.  Not only that, but they are making everybody else around them even more miserable as well.

The advice is so simple here: don’t ever settle for anything less than what you deserve.  Don’t settle just because your life is not following the timetable that you planned for yourself when you were a little girl.  Don’t settle just because you don’t have anything else in your life that gives you fulfillment.  Don’t settle just because you’re lonely.  It’s just so simple.  Don’t settle.  Don’t make the mistakes I did.

There is so much more I could say on this subject but this blog is already long enough!  If you have made it through to the end, congratulations.  I hope I have helped you a little bit.  Don’t make Valentine’s Day more than it is – just a day – and don’t give it the control to make you feel miserable about yourself.  There is so much more to life than just being in a committed relationship with children and the perfect house, and when you reach a place of fulfillment outside of those things, then they will come to you naturally.  People who are the most fulfilled by other things are usually the ones who end up in the happiest relationships, because they are so comfortable in their own skins.  So many of my happily married friends have said, “Just when I stopped looking and moved on to do other things in my life was when I found my spouse.”  It sounds cliché but it’s true.  It’s also so very true that the happiest couples don’t need to put so much emphasis on Valentine’s Day and neither should you.  It doesn’t have to be such a source of misery and delight.

4 responses to “Matters of love, relationships and Valentine’s Day”

  1. I really enjoyed this post. Thanks. I’m in the single category, but, have been married twice before. All of what you say is so very true. The appreciation that we often forget to show to our friends and loved ones can and does go a long way, particularly when dealing with our children and partners.
    Leslie

  2. JoAnn DePoyster says:

    Jessica,

    I am fascinated by your blog today as it is spot on. I’ve been having similar conversations with different people in the last few days about the very same things. Happy Valentine’s Day, dear.

    JoAnn

  3. Virginia P says:

    Heh, I have settled. I’m almost 40 and am I guess in a now year long relationship with a long time friend of 8 years. He’s 57 though. And we have not a lot in common really but the outdoors. All it seems he talks about is prescriptions for aging, drs appts and so on. But as he’s said a million times, he’s one of the last men in the world who would respect and understand and live with my grey asexuality and never cheat on me due to us being in a sexless relationship. I know that’s true from every single past guy I attempted to date. And I know it’s true from his actions, not just words. He won’t cheat on me. Yet I wish so hard I could have that gorgeous guy my age or a little younger to keep me feeling youthful and vibrant and alive. I settled though. And I”m not happy. But if I leave this guy, well…. I’ll be kind of screwed in a lot of ways. I really screwed myself when I agreed to date him and now I’m stuck.

  4. Nina says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Thank you so much for this blog post! I know I’m writing a year later after you published it, but it really struck me today. I really loved and wanted to be in a committed relationship with that person a few years ago. I was young and as you said the universe has a way of protecting us from things that we are not yet ready of. Afterwards there were a few men who tried to date me but I felt it was wrong because I was still in love with that person, and I did not want to settle. Since then I have been in the miserable single bandwagon as I am also those women who have this set date for a wedding, when to have children etc. So, thank you for this post. I really felt better after reading this today. Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

    Nina

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