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What is it about Valentine’s Day that can leave women shivering with expectation and men shaking with fear (or vice versa)?
I have friends who totally embrace the romance and celebrate wholeheartedly, but I also know of couples who have such wildly different ideas that the day inevitably ends with one, or both parties sulking in a corner.
When people can’t communicate honestly regarding their ideals and expectations is it any wonder their needs aren’t met?
I used to be the worst at this.
“It’s too commercialized for me," I'd say, loudly, in the days leading up to the 14th. "It's just another way of extracting money by mass producing cards and novelty gifts.”
In reality though, when it got to the actual day, I'd be wrestling envelopes out of the mailman’s hands, searching for cards. Every time the office door opened I'd pray it was a florist with flowers for me.
“You expect me to cook?” I'd cry in the evening. “You could have made an effort.”
Yes, I know I was unreasonable, but I wanted to feel special. Growing up in a family that never mentioned the L word, I wanted validation that I was lovable through over-priced red roses and heart- shaped chocolates. What I didn’t realize was that the love I was actually lacking was self-love, and no amount of cuddly bears holding balloons was going to fix that.
The first year I spent Valentine’s Day as a single adult was a revelation to me. I spent half an hour on the phone listening to my friend tell me about the love letter she had received from her boyfriend listing all the things he loved about her. When I hung up the phone, fighting back tears, I decided to write my own love note to myself.
I found it painfully hard but ultimately so liberating and it's now something I do every year regardless of my relationship status. I no longer place pressure on anybody (including myself) as I know I am loved (especially by me) and worth loving. These are all signed and dated and really lovely to look back on from time to time.
This is a small excerpt from last year’s letter.
“I love myself even though I am perfectly imperfect. I love myself even though I feel down from time to time, it’s ok to not be ok. I have total trust that I can support my own emotional and financial needs and will always take care of myself. I love the way I always try to be kind to others without sacrificing my own needs.”
Why not give it a go? If you feel really uncomfortable at the thought of doing this, then it's really the perfect exercise for you.