There’s a lot I don’t like about Valentines day. It makes people in relationships feel pressured, and it makes single people feel inadequate.
The former group have to go out and find something to do so as not to look like they don’t care about each other. They pay astronomical prices in an overcrowded restaurant for the same wine and pasta that cost a third of the price the week before, and buy some plastic crap with hearts and clichéd teddy bears on it. It becomes a day of merchandise and extortion for those who feel coerced into doing something for their partner.
Then there are the latter group, the singletons, thrust into a feeling of lacking as every business promotion, television ad, and shop window is full of images of what they don’t have. Consequently they either become depressed about not having someone, they rebel against the idea of having someone altogether, or they throw themselves into a fit of action fuelled by the panic that time is running out.
The truth is I very much like holidays. They force us to celebrate, create memories, and express how we feel about each other at least once a year. But I can’t help but think that this is where the tragedy lies for many relationships. Valentines, like many other holidays, becomes a rushed effort to make up for what we haven’t done in the other 364 days of the year.
It’s seen in the case of the workaholic man who after ignoring his spouse’s needs for the last six months buys her a Cartier bracelet in an effort to pay off all of his emotional debt. Or the woman who decides she’s going to wear or do something really sexy in the bedroom which she could have excited him with year round!
Unfortunately, nothing we do on one day will even out what we haven’t done the rest of the year. A day is just a day – no matter how romantic the restaurant or how expensive the jewellery – our relationships are the measure of our averages, not the intensity of one day.
Wonderful one off acts are a little like a sugar rush – massive highs which quickly disappear once normality sets back in.
This notion both takes the pressure off of Valentines day (you don’t need to perform a miracle, it won’t improve your relationship long term anyway) and puts the pressure on for the whole of the rest of the time, but in a more manageable way.
So why am I saying this? Is the purpose of this article merely to deflate the guy or girl who just booked a romantic experience for this evening? Should you now take back the jewellery and save your money if it’s not going to work anyway?
The answer of course is no. Enjoy the romance, enjoy the experience, and have fun watching that amazing reaction we all love when someone appreciates a beautiful gift.
But I’d like to offer a different perspective on this day than the one created by companies who want to make you believe that you’re not enough without getting their product as a gift for your partner. It goes like this:
What if Valentines day was like New Years day, but for your love life?
Let’s think about New Years day for a moment. It’s a time when we like to hit the reset button on our lives. We make resolutions, we think about goals we want to reach, and if we’re really proactive, we make a plan on how we are going to get there.
Well what about creating ‘Love life Resolutions’…
I want you to imagine that this year’s Valentines day is a ‘Love Life Reset’. It’s a time for you to make resolutions in your love life. If you’re a in a relationship it might be a resolution about the way you are going to treat your partner. It might be a new standard for how much you listen; or for your level of empathy. It might revolve around the amount of time you give to this person on a daily or weekly basis. It might be a decision to become more invested in their interests, goals and ambitions. Maybe it’s putting all of the important dates – anniversaries, birthdays etc – in your calendar now so that you’re ready for them when they come around.
What could be more romantic than a genuine commitment to your partner about what you are going to do and be for them over the next 12 months? This is how we can really show we care.
By the way, you may choose to tell them this resolution, or you may choose to just let your actions speak for you over the weeks and months. Either way, I want you to look back in three months time at how much your relationship has improved with this focused attention.
Now if you’re single, your resolution will be a commitment to yourself. Instead of letting Valentines panic or frustrate you, use it as a time to plan some really positive changes.
Your resolutions may involve a commitment to going out and meeting new people a certain number of times a week. It might be a commitment to taking more risks with the people you are attracted to when you see them. It might be a commitment to working on areas of your confidence that aren’t strong right now.
Looking at the situation this way will allow you to make genuine progress over the coming weeks, instead of feeling powerless.
With this in mind here are three quick tips in creating your new ‘love life resolutions’:
1) Start small
Just like any goal, your love life resolutions should start small. Trying to improve every part of your love life in one go will lead to overwhelm and you’ll end up doing nothing. Achieving these resolutions is paramount to moving things to the next level.
2) Target your weak areas
Be honest about where you suck right now. If you’re a bad listener, be honest about it and look to fix it. If you don’t show enough interest in your partner’s passions, build your resolution around that. It’s not enough just to build on areas where you are already strong – they will give you the least payoff.
3) Start today
In whatever small way you can, show your intent by beginning your love life resolution today – if you do you are likely to see some immediate small pay-offs in the next 7 days which will reinforce the behaviour.
So there it is. A new approach to Valentines day.
What if this became a day we look forward to because of all the positive changes we make when it comes about? It could actually become something really meaningful. I would promote it non-stop.
The bottom line is this. The little things we all do in our love lives over the next twelve months are going to determine how we feel by the time next Valentines day comes around.
If we are in a relationship one year from now, we should be able to laugh at Valentines as merely another day in the calendar when we treat our partner like royalty (no different from any other day). Even the idea of spontaneity can be tame if we’ve been spontaneous in our relationship year-round. If we’re single one year from now, we’ll be able to look at all the things we are doing to dramatically improve our love lives, without feeling depressed that we have wasted another year.
After all, I believe it’s not the fact that we are alone that most pains us, it’s the knowledge that we could be doing more to change it.
There is a wonderful line put forward by Keith Cunningham which I try to remember at least once a day: “Ordinary things done consistently produce extraordinary results”.
So there’s no need to worry about today. Instead of rushing around to make someone feel extra special, spend that time thinking about how you are going to make that person feel special for the next 12 months – including yourself. The results I promise you will be far grander.
Bits and bobs to finish…
Leave a comment… What do you think of this new approach to Valentines? Does it make you like the holiday more?
If you want more like this… Check out my online training programme The Man Myth. This is the complete A–Z, it will give you more ideas for resolutions that you know what to do with (whether you’re single or in a relationship), and get you excited about the idea of implementing them. Use today as a chance to hit reset and get access to the videos right away.
This is for the caption contest I ran last week on the US GetTheGuy book cover. We had some really great entries, and thank you to everyone who left a comment! We’ll be having more contests for you to enter coming up very soon.
My favourite caption, one that made me crack up when reading it, was from Amanda: “If you liked it’d then you should have put a bow tie on it! (in a Beyonce style)”. I now can’t stop playing that song in my head with those words, so thank you for that Amanda! My team will be getting in touch very shortly to book your two spots on the GetTheGuy Tour…
**The dates and locations for which are going to be announced this Sunday! Set the date in your diary, it’s going to be big.**
Photo credits: QThomasBower