With Valentine’s Day a few weeks away, you may be trying to come up with the perfect gift — flowers and chocolate, a night out, coupon book for household chores, something to spark desire in the bedroom, … ? So many options. How do you know what is the right one for your particular partner?
Listen to your partner. Maybe even ask a few questions. Seems simple, obvious even, but you’d be surprised just how many of us expect our partners to read our minds or, on the other side, feel it’s cheating somehow if your partner can’t read your mind and you tell him or her “I’d like carnations.” This is a sure recipe for disaster — not just on Valentine’s Day but throughout the year.
What is it that makes you feel loved by your sweetie? When he or she makes coffee in the morning, does it rev you up? How about a child-free day to get caught up around the house? Do you light up when presented with a plant, but wilt at cut flowers? Do you despise being told that you MUST be romantic on Valentine’s Day, but deeply value the surprise or random demonstration of affection? What about your partner? (Past partners? Your history can provide clues about what does and does not work for you.)
If you have trouble answering these questions for yourself, you’re sort of doomed to feel unfulfilled in a relationship, not as close to the other person as you might like. How can you open up and share your desires with your partner, what it is that makes you feel truly loved, if you don’t know yourself? Spend some time being honest with yourself and make a list. What has your partner(s) done that meant a lot to you? What have you always imagined would be so wonderful if only…? Maybe share the list with your significant other. Maybe ask for one in return. If you value surprise, make it a long list with lots of potential choices.
Ultimately, successful relationships have good communication … even about things our culture tells us don’t need to be spoken and shared. Each person must lower their walls to allow themselves to be seen and heard in an intimate way in order for him or her to have an experience of feeling loved. This hold for all types of relationships (parent-child, good friends, siblings, …) even though we tend to focus on the lovers in mid-February. Happy Valentine’s Day!