5 Ways to Make this Valentine’s Special
Valentine’s Day is special. It’s a day of love – a day to shower our significant other with flowers, gifts, and romance. The expectations can be overwhelming. But the day doesn’t have to be.
It’s a day for the two of you, so make it memorable in your own way. It may mean a night out on the town or an intimate night in.
Focusing on what makes your spouse feel loved is what makes it memorable.
Here are 5 ways to make this Valentine’s special:
1. Tell your spouse 10 ways they’re a great partner.
It’s easy to take for granted all the ways your spouse is remarkable. Life’s busy, and we forget to express our gratitude to each other. Take this Valentine’s to tell them just how great they are, but it doesn’t have to be confined to a card. Get creative in the delivery. Here are a few ideas for how to express your feelings.
- Leave Post-it notes around the house. Hide them in places like their underwear drawer, work bag, or shoes. After the first few notes, it gets exciting to figure out where the rest are.
- Give them a note a day for 10 days. If they take their lunch to work, that’s a great place to hide them. Or on the bathroom mirror if you wake up before they do.
- Employ the kids as messengers. Let them get creative.
2. Ditch the fancy dinner for a food tour.
Mix it up for dinner this year. Instead of making a reservation for dinner, select a part of town with several restaurants and make it a food tour. Have appetizers and drinks at one location, pick a different spot for the main course, then head for dessert and coffee. If the restaurants are close together, you can go for a nice walk as well.
This creates the perfect opportunity to explore what each of you likes. You can alternate picking locations. As you transition from one location to another, talk about what you like about that particular place or food. Smells and tastes have the power to transport us to a time and place in our past. Explore those sensations together.
3. Take a scenic drive.
Make a playlist and hit the road. There’s nothing more I love than driving through the countryside and talking. One rule, though: Ditch the phones! (Okay, let me specify. You may need GPS or music but no social media, texting, or phone calls.)Take in all the scenery and have some deep conversations. My wife and I have the deepest conversations when we’re out driving.
4. Tour your local area.
Have you explored all of your city? Are there places you want to visit but never have? Think of this as a scavenger hunt without the clues. Choose a couple of sites each, then surprise each other with the locations.
Here’s a couple of ideas to make this special:
- Choose places significant to your relationship, like your first date, where you met, or your first kiss. You can revisit those memories and talk about how you’ve grown.
- Choose an area you’ve never visited, but you’d like to. Go for a walk and discover the food, stores, and parks in the area. Talk about what you find. You may just find your new favorite place!
5. Make intimacy a priority.
Before you think, “Of course, he said make sex a priority,” read that again. The Oxford dictionary defines intimacy as “the inmost thoughts or feelings; proceeding from, concerning, or affecting one’s inmost self: closely personal.”
Intimacy comes in different forms, too. Yes, there’s sexual intimacy, but that’s only one form. There’s also emotional, intellectual, physical, experiential, and spiritual intimacy.
We all need intimacy. And your needs may be different from your spouse’s. That’s okay! Part of marriage is learning about and discovering each other. So make it a priority to get more intimate with your spouse. [Boost your intimacy with this Heart to Heart text series!]
Make this Valentine’s even more special by committing to celebrate your love throughout the year. Be intentional about studying your spouse and growing closer together every day.
What is “Romance” in Marriage? – First Things First
Why Date Night Matters – First Things First
3 Ways Good Communication Can Enhance Sex In Marriage
Love is the most exhilarating emotion, until it’s the most frustrating because you’re dealing with COVID-19 and quarantine and you aren’t sure your spouse loves you anymore.
When you fell head over heels in love with your spouse, nobody gave you the heads up that you would endure a pandemic where you were together 24/7 for months on end.
There are no books on how to navigate the economy, homeschooling, anxiety over aging parents and kids coming home from college, politics, social injustice, and general uncertainty all at one time. These are just some of the things that have most of us on edge, much more so than usual. There’s a lot that preoccupies our thoughts and attention these days, which could easily leave someone wondering if their spouse still loves them.
Have they lost that lovin’ feeling?
First, are you questioning your spouse’s feelings for you because they are no longer doing the things they did before that made you feel loved? Have current life circumstances just gotten in the way of you feeling loved by your spouse? Or maybe you’ve spent so much time together lately that your relationship feels a bit stale or boring—like the fireworks just aren’t there?
How do you receive love?
People have various ways of expressing and receiving love. It is not unusual for love to look different in the midst of a crisis. Some people just don’t feel loveable at the moment.
Some people think saying “I love you” is enough to express their feelings and make someone feel their affection. Working hard and providing could be a way of showing love, but if that person is never home, it may not feel like love to the other spouse. Another spouse might show love by keeping the car clean and full of gas, but a clean car isn’t really a big deal to their spouse. You get the idea. My point is, how someone feels love is different from person to person.
If you are wondering if your spouse still loves you, there’s one sure way to find out: ASK!
Find a good time to have an honest conversation with them. Let them know what their affection means to you and share that you are struggling a bit with knowing they still care. If there are ways they expressed love to you in the past that they aren’t currently doing, perhaps you could let them know you miss those things.
You also might ask if there is something bothering your spouse that the two of you need to discuss and work through. Maybe something is creating a disconnect between the two of you that you have no clue about.
Communication is the key.
If you avoid talking about how you are feeling, you could end up operating out of a lot of assumptions, none of which may be true. Your spouse may love you very much and it may surprise them that you are questioning their love for you.
Do they know what speaks love to you? Everybody has a different love language. If they ask you for specific ways they can help you feel their love, be prepared to give them some specifics.
It is totally possible that your spouse loves you deeply, but doesn’t love who they are very much at the moment. Stress and high anxiety have a way of making us feel prickly, and you know how that goes—the ones we love the most and are the closest to get the brunt of it when we are struggling.
Ask for help.
If in having the conversation with your spouse, you find that there are issues between the two of you, don’t be afraid to seek help. There are plenty of excellent counselors who can help you work through whatever has come between you.
Don’t underestimate the toll COVID-19 can be having on your marriage. There are so many things hitting on your marriage at the same time, it magnifies our feelings, our thoughts, and our responses. Now is not the time to make any hasty decisions concerning your marriage. Now is the time to be patient, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and trust that COVID-19 will not go on forever.
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***
How To Make Sure Your Child Knows You Love Them
“Of course my child knows I love them!” But do they? Really? To be clear, I’m not questioning whether you love your child; I’m questioning whether your child knows that you love them. Do they know how broad, wide, and deep your love is for them? There’s more to your child feeling loved than saying, “I love you! Goodnight!” every night.
Google Autocomplete can be illuminating. For those unfamiliar with it, as you begin typing a search into Google, Google begins to finish it for you with the most popular searches put into its search engine. So, typing, “How do I get my parents to” will autocomplete with the most popular searches that begin with the same phrase. This particular example is as heartbreaking as it is illuminating.
The number one autocomplete is: How do I get my parents to love me?
★ What would lead kids, tweens, and teens to google ways to get their parents to love them? Is there a disconnect somewhere? Are we overestimating how much affection our kids feel? Are we not communicating love in ways that resonate with our kids? Some kids don’t even think their parents like them, let alone love them. Even if you feel confident that your child knows they are loved, there’s always room to learn more ways to deepen it.
Here’s How To Make Sure Your Child Knows You Love Them
1. Understand Your Child’s Heart.
- Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a great book, The Five Love Languages of Children, that suggests we all communicate and receive love uniquely. Sometimes the way we communicate love doesn’t match up with how our kids “hear” love and we love right past them. We might be providing tons of loving, affirming words, but our child might really feel loved the most when we spend quality time with them. His website is really helpful and has great resources!
- What do they ask of you? This can provide insights into how they receive affection.
- Do they ask you to come and play with them? (Love = Quality Time.)
- Do they ask if you think the picture they drew is pretty or if you are proud of their report card? (Love = Affirming Words.)
- Do they ask for help with homework or their hair? (Love = Helping Them.)
- How do they express love and affection to you? This also provides insight into their heart and what says, “I love you” to them.
- Do they want to sit in your lap and give you hugs? (Love = Physical Connection.)
- Do they like to make things for you like drawing you a picture or bring you things like a dandelion? (Love = Gifts, Tokens of Affection.)
2. Spend Time With Them.
- We can kid ourselves by saying things like, “I don’t spend a lot of time with my kids, but when I do, I make it count.” It’s great to “make it count” (quality time) but our kids need “a lot” of time, too (quantity time). There really is no substitute. Kids spell “love,” T – I – M – E.
- Be intentional. Look for and even plan for informal time together. Get on the floor and play with their toys with them. Watch them play video games. Take them with you to run errands or hang out with you while you’re working on the car. Lots of bonding happens organically just being together.
3. Expand The Bandwidth Of Your Communication.
- Your words are powerful. Not just what you say but how you say it. Remember, your body isn’t on mute. An angry “Because I said so!” could be a calm “Here’s why this is important…” Don’t underestimate the power of your words in forming your child’s perception of how you feel about them.
- Listen. Really listen. So many kids say their parents talk at them, not with them. You can’t make your child talk to you, but you can be present and create an atmosphere and relational environment where talking is much more likely to take place. Don’t be quick to jump in with a judgment or lecture.
- Say, “I love you.” Not just at bedtime, but say it at times when they don’t expect to hear it—when they’ve done something wrong and have to be corrected, when they are down on themselves and don’t feel lovable, random times like car rides or when they are just walking across the room. It is important that children understand that there is nothing that they can do to make you love them more or love them less.
- Other phrases that say “I love you” without saying “I love you.”
- I believe in you.
- I’m proud of you.
- I’m always here for you.
- I was wrong. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.
Whether you know it or not, you are always sending messages revealing how you feel about your kids—and they are paying attention. Think about that for a second. If you think it’s possible that your children might wonder how much you love them, you don’t have to let them wonder. Be intentional and talk with them about it. With loving your kids, make sure it’s a show AND tell.
6 Ways Your Child Will Know You Love Them
How can you be sure your child will know that you love them? When I was 6, I was shopping with my mom when my eyes landed on what I thought was very cool Christmas tape. I told my mom I needed that tape. She said no. So, I took matters into my own hands… and slipped two tape rolls into my jacket pocket.
When we got home, I went straight to my room and started playing with the tape. It didn’t take long for Mom to notice the silence. I vividly remember her knocking on the door and asking me what I was doing. At that moment sheer panic set in because I knew I would be in trouble. I tried to take up as much of the tape as possible before she actually opened the door.
She walked in the room, saw the tape and asked me where I got it, knowing full well where it came from. She didn’t say much more, except these words: “Get in the car.” I knew for sure I was in big trouble. I thought maybe she was taking me to the police station, but we actually returned to the store. We walked in and she asked for the manager.
She asked me to tell him what I had done. Through tears I explained that I thought the tape was beautiful and when my mom wouldn’t buy it for me, I just took it. I told him I knew it was wrong and apologized. My mom paid him for the tape and then I paid my mom back for the tape with my measly allowance over a period of weeks.
Back then I thought my mom was the meanest mom on the planet, but I have never forgotten that day.
Fast forward to middle school when I “knew” how smart I was. I wanted to decide for myself when to go to bed, how long I talked on the phone, what chores I would or would not do. They didn’t buy it, not for one second. Again, I knew I had the most unloving parents on the planet, because if they really loved me they would let me do what I wanted to do.
What I didn’t know then, but know now, is they really were loving me.
If you have raised children or you are in the midst of raising children, you know that they will challenge you at every turn – especially the strong-willed ones. You will hear things come out of their mouths you thought you would never hear:
“I hate you.”
“You’re a terrible excuse for a parent.”
“Who died and made you the boss?”
“Why do you have to make my life so miserable?”
“Why couldn’t I be so and so’s child? They really know how to parent.”
Those words can be painful and cause you to question your parenting skills and whether or not you really are loving them well. But how do your children really know that you love them? Maybe a better question is, what do children need from their parents in order to thrive?
First, children need routines, rituals, consistency and structure.
We aren’t talking boot camp, but we are talking about a routine that children can count on – consistent rules and structure in which they can safely operate.
Kids also need loving accountability.
I 100% knew I was going to be in trouble when my mom found out I took that tape because telling the truth and not taking things that don’t belong to us had been drilled into my head for as long as I could remember, but that didn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing. Holding me accountable, standing with me as I told the manager what I had done, and requiring me to pay her back were actually all ways of loving me. She didn’t remind me of my transgression throughout my life. In fact, I really don’t remember her bringing it up again, but I assure you, I have never stolen another thing. It was a safe place to make mistakes and to learn and grow.
Additionally, your child needs you to have the right perspective and know that you are steady.
With age, children typically become smarter than their parents, or so they believe. There is an age and stage where you could say the sky is blue and they would tell you it’s not. They know how to navigate the latest and greatest technology and they’re growing like crazy. If you didn’t know their age, you would swear some of them were much older. As parents, remembering exactly how old they are and no matter how smart they seem, recognizing that they only know what a 12 or 14-year-old would know helps you keep perspective and stay the course as the parent.
Many tweens, when left to their own devices (literally), would play video games all night, eat whatever whenever, forget studying and blame everybody else as their life is falling apart.
My point is this: They don’t know what they don’t know.
It really isn’t their job to like us at this point. They are in the process of figuring out how to do life, but they aren’t quite mature enough to do it on their own. Being the parent that doesn’t get incredibly emotional, yet is steady, consistent and supportive during this maturation process is powerful and loving.
In all of these things, holding your child accountable and requiring them to be responsible for their actions is sometimes one of the most painful ways you show love. For them, it doesn’t usually feel very loving in the moment or even after the moment. Sometimes it even takes years for them to realize how loving and painful it was for you as the parent.
As a parent, you hurt when your child hurts. But ultimately you know that letting them experience what it looks and feels like to be held accountable and take responsibility ultimately builds their self-confidence and helps them learn for the future when they are navigating life on their own.
Keep them safe.
When your toddler wants to put their finger in an electrical socket and they throw a huge tantrum when you move them away, it wouldn’t matter how much they cried and carried on, you would be confident in your efforts to keep them safe. As they get older, they throw tantrums in different ways and sometimes we become less confident in our parenting skills and we may wonder whether or not we are loving them well.
One of the best things you can do to make sure your child knows you love them is not to look to them for affirmation that you are loving them well, because it may not seem that way to them. Know this: The parenting journey is full of adventure and sometimes insecurity. Find some people who are ahead of you on the journey who can encourage you and support you in the good and challenging times.
Last, but definitely not least, tell your child you love them. When things are going great, when things are hard, when they are least lovable or when all they want to do is sit in your lap, tell them you love them.
For more parenting resources, click here.
Let’s be honest—boundaries can be hard to talk about for everyone. “Can we talk about boundaries with opposite-sex friends?” or “We need to talk about boundaries with social media.” Both of those topics can easily be construed as passive-aggressive suspicion or even a flat-out accusation.
So, let’s change that. Let’s take a look at why we need boundaries in the first place.
For any relationship to be healthy and thrive (and I do mean any relationship– marriage, in-laws, friendships, co-workers, even your relationship with yourself) there need to be some boundaries that are in place and respected.
These boundaries not only help us avoid uncomfortable, hurtful, even relationally destructive things, but they also help us feel safe and secure and allow our relationship to grow and deepen. They define and celebrate our relationship.
Boundaries are both a sign of and a byproduct of emotional and relational health. Boundaries show that we understand and respect where we end and where the people we care about begin. Saying “I do” is by definition saying, “I won’t.” A spouse that thinks they should be able to do whatever they want doesn’t understand marriage. But we’ll get to that…
Now, here’s the good stuff…
Boundaries help us avoid things that could damage our relationship, but they also allow all the good relationship stuff to happen. They help provide an environment where intimacy can grow and thrive. They are what makes us uniquely us. So, if we need to talk about boundaries with our spouse, let’s lead with the positive.
Even if your spouse really does hate boundaries, hopefully, they are down to talk about how your relationship is special, can grow, and how you can achieve deeper levels of intimacy. Try framing the conversation that way and see what happens.
Don’t forget the flip-side. Even if your spouse “hears” negative things when they hear the word “boundaries” rest assured they have their own list of things that help them feel safe and secure in your relationship. That’s just Being Human 101.
This can be a great place to start the conversation!
- When do you feel the safest and most secure in our relationship?
- What do I do that makes you feel guarded or uncomfortable?
- When do you feel the closest to me? What do I do that hinders that?
- What situations feel like a threat to our relationship being the best it can be?
- What are your expectations when it comes to _____?
- What are some healthy goals for us when it comes to _____?
When you start a conversation like this, you are showing how much you value your spouse and your relationship.
The word “boundary” is nowhere in sight. BONUS: you are leading the way with trust, respect, and vulnerability. You are starting with their needs. Also, notice the phrasing here. These aren’t “yes” or “no” questions like, “Do I ever do anything that makes you feel insecure?” You don’t want to stop the conversation before it has a chance to start.
Knowing your relationship goals, expectations, comfort-zones, and well… boundaries show that you are self-aware, emotionally mature, and value your spouse and your relationship with them. Even if your spouse hates talking about boundaries, don’t be afraid of these conversations; navigate them like the positive conversations they should be.
Looking for more marriage resources? Click here!
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***
Cheating. Pretty much universally denounced as the worst thing you could do in a relationship (maybe just a tiny bit behind murdering your partner). We can all agree that cheating is wrong and definitely nobody wants someone to cheat on them, but…
“But what?” you ask. But let’s be honest, so much of the media we consume glorifies cheating and we sing along or sit and watch and munch our popcorn. And who among us isn’t fascinated by the latest celebrity scandal of who’s “steppin’ out” on who? Let’s get even more honest. Who hasn’t clicked on one of those, “6 Ways To Know If They’re Cheating” articles, you know, just to be sure…
Cheating simultaneously repulses and fascinates us. It’s one of the ultimate taboos, so we want to know all the details when it happens to our friends, but we really, really don’t want it to happen to us. Oh, but tons of people cheat. Tons and tons.
Statistically, it’s very likely that it has or will happen to you.
Sorry. (I’m going to assume that you want me to just skip the research-y parts here and just get to the parts that help you avoid being cheated on. I hear you.)
So you want to avoid having your partner cheat on you? You want to remain faithful to your partner and you expect them to remain faithful to you. Here’s where I encourage you to start: Make sure you both agree on what constitutes “cheating” in the first place. Confusion and poor communication cause a lot of what passes for “infidelity,” not a lack of character.
Yes, yes, there’s the obvious stuff. I’m not talking about that. But what about not being honest about where you spend your time? Porn? Friending an ex on social media? Not being honest about how you spent money? Talking about problems in your relationship with an opposite-sex co-worker? Anonymous internet “stuff?” Texting with an opposite-sex friend or getting emotional support from one? Business lunches and gym partners you conveniently don’t tell your spouse about? All of this shows up on surveys as to what counts as cheating. You and your spouse need to define together what “cheating” is to you.
So, yeah, you guys need to talk.
Framing The Conversation
So, you want to blurt out, “Hey, we need to talk about boundaries and what counts as cheating in our relationship!” But I’m begging you not to do that. Please. Just don’t. They’ll most likely hit you with a response like: “What? Don’t you trust me?” [And then in their head] “Wait! Why are you asking? Should I trust YOU?“
The conversation about cheating doesn’t have to be about cheating. There are so many other ways to frame this conversation that won’t set off alarm bells and rattle trust issues. How do you have a meaningful, productive conversation about all the nebulous grey stuff in a way that draws you closer together instead of driving you apart by creating static and mistrust?
Can you have this conversation without using words like infidelity, cheating, betrayal, or even trust? It’s something to think about…
Shift: From What You Don’t Want To Happen, To What You Do Want To Happen
You want to talk about growing deeper in real intimacy, cultivating mutual respect, making sure that you are meeting each other’s needs, making sure you are healthy individuals and a healthy couple, protecting your beautiful relationship, and building a lasting legacy together.
So, yes, at some point you have to cover, communicate, reach agreements on, and honor each other in the following areas: (Note: This is not an exhaustive list. You don’t have to talk about them all at one time, for all-time. This is a dynamic, ongoing conversation.)
Phones, Tablets, and Technology
Honesty About Time
Emotional Bonds-Relationships Time With The Opposite Sex, Gym, Etc.
Texting and Social Media
Honesty About Money
Opposite-Sex Co-Workers – Meetings, Trips
Keeping Relationship Problems Private
Remember how you’re framing these conversations. All of the above-listed issues and areas can keep you from being the individuals and couple that you both want to be. You have to address them—not because you don’t trust your spouse or partner—but because of the way they impede growth, intimacy, vulnerability, mutual respect, and the legacy you want to cultivate as a couple. Be ready to disagree but respect each other’s needs, and, above all, respect the relationship you are building together.
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***
Is Being in a Toxic Relationship Better Than Being Alone?
Let’s be real, there aren’t too many people in this world that would choose to actually be lonely. We as human beings thrive off our interactions and connections with other people. We are usually our best selves when we have people who care about us in our lives.
Sometimes, we’re afraid of being lonely.
We often don’t do well alone. Some fear it so much they settle and keep people that don’t deserve a spot in their life hanging around. Is being in a toxic relationship better than being lonely? Is being unhappy with an individual emotionally and mentally better than just learning how to be comfortable with just you?
I’m not just referring to romantic relationships either. I can think of a few friends I allowed to stay too long in my circle. Being alone for a little bit isn’t a bad thing. Being alone can be the best time for self-discovery. When you go on a journey to learn more about you, it’s the most beautiful thing. You discover things you never even knew about yourself. You learn to not accept the disrespect and abuse you maybe once did.
It’s not an easy process, but we work hard for the finer things in life, like knowing ourselves better!
Quick story, I was hanging out with this guy, and he was so fine, his smile was perfect, and I loved our conversation. Everything seemed pretty kosher. Soon enough, things started changing. I started to see some of his true colors, and they weren’t the prettiest, but I didn’t care. Why? Well, because I didn’t want to let him go. I didn’t want to be alone.
I couldn’t stand the thought of not being with someone, and though he was a bit controlling and handled his anger in inappropriate ways, I was still intrigued and drawn in by the fact that there was this guy right here, who wanted to be with me, even with my imperfections, so why not put up with him, right? URRR, wrong!
I started to see myself becoming insecure and dependent on this man, and that’s not like me at all. When I told him the things that bothered me about some of his habits, he would find a way to make it my fault. For a while, I believed him and thought everything was my fault. And that, my friends, is manipulation. We can’t stand for that.
There has been plenty of research proving that staying alone is better than being in a toxic relationship. Sometimes we just think too much with our hearts and not enough with our heads. Who said being single isn’t fun? We can look at it like this: at least if we’re single and miserable (which you probably won’t be) we’re just miserable with our problems. Period. We don’t have to worry about being miserable with our own problems, plus their own problems, plus both our problems being together- arguing, insecurity and jealousy and on and on. That’s two-thirds fewer problems just by being single! Check my math!
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn who you are. That often requires you concentrating on just you. Don’t look at being single as a bad thing. Look at it as an opportunity to explore yourself and the things around you more. Take it as an opportunity to learn how to be content and happy with just you. Take advantage of that time to hang out with family and close friends. Don’t let your fear make decisions for you.
When you’re choosing to stay single for YOU, you’re also choosing a few other things.
You’re choosing to say:
- I’m enough.
- I’m capable of self-love and self-acceptance.
- I’m in control of my own life and decisions.
You don’t settle because you know what you want! Give yourself a high-five!
To answer the question at hand: No, it’s not better to be in a toxic relationship than it is to be single. If you can relate to this, I hope you can soon recognize that you’re enough, if you haven’t already. Because you are.
Looking for more relationship resources? Click here!
Why should you date?
Wow! That’s an incredibly personal question that has different answers depending on many different factors. Are you divorced? In your 20s fresh out of school and never married? In your 30s and hoping to be married? Looking for someone to have loads of fun with?
Answer This Question First…
“Why do I want to date?” And therein lies the first question that a person must answer for themselves. This must be answered honestly. To answer the question is to come to terms with the expectations and desires which I have from the process of dating. (The easy answer is that I may be looking for companionship in a romantic way. But who’s going for easy?)
Desire, by definition, is a strong feeling of wanting to have something. Do I desire to be married? Desire a committed relationship? Want someone to hang out with? Have the desire to be totally free and intimate with someone?
Many of us get into relationships with the desire to be our full, authentic selves with the other person. However, that involves a level of trust and vulnerability that the dating process is often designed to reveal over time. It doesn’t happen quickly or automatically. Can I be my truest self with you?
A large part of the dating process should help you learn about yourself. Do I change who I am when I’m around people that I’m romantically interested in? Do I lose parts of myself trying to win the heart of my partner? Is there anything that prevents me from being myself? How do I respond when I, or strong facets of who I am, aren’t accepted? At the same time, am I willing to grow as an individual as I am learning more and more about myself? Do I compromise in ways that are unhealthy for me? “Dating requires you to be vulnerable in a way that most other relationships don’t. One of the reasons that we date is to learn more about ourselves and what it means to let someone get to know us.”
Then Answer This Second Question…
Secondly, and closely related, is to answer the question, “As I am getting to know who I am, am I truly learning who my partner is and their unique journey?” Let’s face it, just because I’m able to be me with someone does not mean we’re romantically a good match for one another. While I am not a supporter of “finding the one person out there who was meant for me,” I do recognize that there are those that I am romantically attracted to while others I’m not.
But What If It’s This Question?
What if part of dating is simply to answer the question, “Are we compatible?” Can we talk about things that matter to us? Is he/she an emotionally safe person to be with? We both know that relationships can accelerate a wide array of emotions. Are they able to deal with the emotional baggage that comes with me into the relationship? Do our values and belief system mesh with one another? Are we able to support one another?
We begin our dating relationships not knowing if we are compatible. We don’t know if this is a person who truly wants to get to know me. Let’s not assume that we do know. Starting with the pure knowledge that I am interested in getting to know this person and finding out if we’re a good fit is a lot less pressure. There are fewer expectations to meet or not meet.
Time, talk and being together during the dating process is no longer about us proving that we’re compatible. It’s not about you proving to me that you like who I am or worse, me being the person you want me to be.
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