Flowers, chocolate and hearts enhanced with terms of endearment. The card that says just what you’ve always wanted to hear. Romantic getaways, silk nightgowns and jewelry. The best sex of your life. Diamonds are forever! These are the trappings of Valentine’s Day. But do they really satisfy? It depends…on what you expect from them.
Our culture’s ideas about romance do us a real disservice. Most of us grow up believing that we will be happy when and only when we find our perfect partner (who will then, of course, bring us the perfect gifts to show how much they love us!) If we buy into this story (and it’s difficult not to do it), then we may spend our single years desperately wishing for a partner only to find that love, when it comes, leaves us frustrated and disappointed. Whether or not you are involved with someone now, take an honest look at your relationship history. Do you expect that your partner will read your mind, discover your unspoken needs, and meet them? While many of us bring such expectations into our romances, the truth is that the only time we can appropriately expect such a response is when we are infants. And of course, even the best parents can’t always figure out what a baby wants (so now perhaps you’re looking for your partner to make up for how your parents—or siblings or friends or past lovers—let you down).
As beautiful and healing as relationships can be, I know from personal and professional experience that you can never get what you are looking for from a relationship as long as you are hoping that your partner will satisfy your heart’s deepest longings. True love implies freedom to allow the other person to be who they are–and you can only offer that freedom when you take responsibility for your own needs. If you find yourself feeling let down at Valentine’s Day, your birthday or other holidays, ask yourself what is driving your expectations. Do you expect a gift to make up for something else that’s missing in your life? Do you resent what you receive because you think it reflects a lack of intimacy or investment in the relationship? If you don’t believe that your partner (or anyone) “gets you,” have you taken the risk of being vulnerable enough to be authentic and ask for what you want? Do you believe that gifts are a measure of how much you are loved (or not?)
If you are not in a romantic relationship, are you waiting to create the life you want until the right person comes along—when you might actually find the right person on the way to creating the life you want? Each of these questions ultimately boils down to this: have you neglected self-intimacy and self-responsibility with the expectation that someone else will make you happy? Carefully examining your feelings around gift-giving and receiving may encourage you to gift yourself in loving ways, so that you don’t look to others to satisfy empty spaces that only you (or the Divine) can fill. Are you craving a little sweetness in your life? Offer yourself some. Invest in some really amazing organic chocolate and savor it slowly. Look for crocuses peeping out from the frozen ground. Brighten up your home with some flowers (since you are buying them, you will get exactly what you want!) Find a fun, funky little coffee shop that you’ve never visited and sip on a warm drink. Spend the day doing nothing but taking baths and naps, reading books and watching movies. Want some sparkle? Bundle up on a cold night and let yourself be amazed at the stars. Take an afternoon to window shop for amazing jewelry or try on beautiful clothing. Quit waiting for someone to throw you a surprise party and plan one for yourself. Does your body want to be touched? Seek out people who give good hugs. Get a massage or a pedicure. Splurge on silk sheets or pajamas (or both!) Get some amazing smelling lotion and rub it all over yourself. Perhaps none of the above suggestions sound appealing to you. Only you can know what you really want and need. Take responsibility for yourself, and you might be amazed how satisfying all your relationships suddenly become.
The Manifestation Maven