I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was never the girl that got a dozen roses, or for that matter, anything at all on any Valentine’s Day until I dated my now ex-husband in my early 30’s. Wait — that’s not true. I could always count on my Mother sending me a little package of conversation hearts in the mail. (As a child I hated those candies – tasteless and half the words were illegible – yet I ate them anyway. I’m still compelled to buy them for my own two daughters, but I’ve upgraded the tradition by adding my own preference — a hunk of chocolate!) Anyways, I just wasn’t one of those girls that sat around feeling sorry for myself when red hearts and cupid showed up in store windows. At the time I wasn’t aware that my “lack” of dating had everything to do with my “lack” of self-love and willingness to be vulnerable, but that’s another article. My goal today is give you some random “love” tips that I’ve learned along the way.
Tip: Never ask another female about her love life.
This includes all questions from, “Have you met anybody?” to “When are you getting married?” One of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave me was never asking me such questions – even as I approached my early 30’s. Of course they would have liked to see me connect with someone special, but the message they sent by keeping their traps shut was that I was capable of living a complete life on my own. Trust me, I heard it enough from well-intentioned friends and relatives. I’ve heard parents of preschoolers and adolescents ask their children, “Who’s your boyfriend?” What’s that about?! Think about the message they are sending. I know half the time it’s in jest, but the message that you “should” have a boyfriend still gets sent. Besides, when a female is in love, you won’t have to ask because she’ll tell you all about it. In fact, you’ll know more than you probably ever wanted to know about it because love is, well, love and it’s difficult to contain. Ask her about her hobbies, passions and interests instead.
Tip: Put the holiday in perspective.
I know romance novels and movies suggest that this day is one filled with a rose-petal trail to the bedroom where hundreds of warm, vanilla candles glow. Let’s not forget the champagne, fine dining, chocolate, and passion for two. For the most part, this only happens in romance novels and movies. Oh sure, there may be a version of this lusty celebration at some point in any relationship, but for the majority of couples I know the day boils down to an extra peck on the lips, a wacky pop-up card, maybe some flowers (but not roses since they jack the price sky high that day – which could pay for a month’s worth of piano lessons), and a bite off the chocolate hunk you bought your kids. The couple making mad, passionate love next to a blazing fire while they whisper sweet nothings to each other is the exception, not the rule. Besides, it’s hard to keep the passion once you’re married because now you’re in bed with a relative!
Tip: Have your main squeeze write you a love letter.
When my husband came along, I got write to the point! I told him that for any major gift giving event (birthdays, Xmas, Anniversary, and Valentine’s Day) that “I didn’t want a gift — just a card.” As a man who hates shopping as much as I hate empty ice cube trays left in the freezer (I was the automatic ice maker in our home), he couldn’t believe his ears. It was too good to be true. Yup, it was because what I continued to say was “and the whole left side of the card has to be filled up with all the reasons why you love me.” His response, “Geez, a present would be easier.” Isn’t that the truth? But really, I’d rather pick out my own stuff – I have much better taste. Even though after 18 years I chose to divorce, those cards saved my marriage many times along the way. I’ve also learned sometimes love isn’t enough, which is why I eventually left him, but I took all my cards with me.
Tip: Remember the most important person to love is you.
The most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself. As the saying goes, no matter where you go, there you are. Too many women are trying to find a powerful man instead of becoming a powerful woman (been there, done that). It’s like trying to find a matching earring when you don’t even know what the original earring looks like. You have to find out what turns you on and makes you tick. You need to own that you are loveable and loving. Only when you create this special relationship with yourself can you draw toward you a healthy individual that mirrors your dreams and values. Remember, you won’t let others love you any more than you love yourself. When I’m having a day where my inner critic is raging, I know it’s time to stop and replace those negative thoughts with the mantra that author and speaker Louise Hay shared years ago: “I love and approve of myself just the way I am.” Try that naked in front of a mirror!
And then try something new this Valentine’s Day – write yourself a love letter. Sit down with a beautiful piece of stationery or a card, pour a cup of your favorite liquid, and go into juicy detail listing all your wonderful qualities (don’t forget your sing-song voice, curve of your back, ability to listen and keen sense of observation). Re-read your own love letter daily to remember how truly special and lovely you are – just the way you are.