Gentlemen (and ladies) before you freak out (or get too excited), I am not saying you HAVE TO take your significant other to expensive dinners, plan elaborate scavenger hunts reminiscing every milestone you had, or propose every day. No. All of the activities I listed are a socially constructed ideology that we have confirmed to accept as expressions of love.
Celebrating the true meaning of Valentine’s day – commemorating your relationship and appreciating your significant other – every day is important because we should be grateful for our partners every single day, not just on holidays, anniversary, and birthdays! Appreciation, gratitude, and mutual respect are pillars in a healthy relationship and celebrating your relationship only out of obligation is not how you show your partner you care or respect them. (Besides, you’re missing the point of Valentine’s Day or love, for that matter, if you believe that you should reserve one day out of the year, again, excluding anniversaries, birthdays, and holiday, to show your partner you care).
Being appreciative of your partner and the value (and happiness) they bring to you should not be reserved for special occasions, it should be integrated into your everyday life. I’m sure to many, it probably sounds ridiculous. How can you show your partners you care or appreciate them every single day? You’re not made out of money and you don’t have a lot of time to buy gifts and plan these crazy dates all time. It just can’t be done.
You see that’s the problem. We are looking at it all wrong. Showing your partner you care does not mean you have to buy them expensive gifts, take them out, or even do those weird kinky things they like (hey, no judgment! Being open-minded and adventurous is highly appreciated). Showing your partner you care is a lot simpler than you think and here are a few ways to do so:
- Being there for them in times of needs – This doesn’t mean you have to fix every little problem, drop everything to rush to their side at any sign of distress (if they’re seriously hurt or suffering, by all mean GO!), or give up important opportunities just to comfort them when their tummy hurts. No, being there in times of needs meaning being considerate their situation, listening to their problems and allowing them to express themselves wholeheartedly, without judgment or criticism, and simply offering your company and assistance whenever possible. When I was faced with personal distress, I cannot express to you how much it meant to me to hear my partner ask, “how can I help?”. It was something that took me by surprise. Most responses include, “I’m sorry to hear that” or “I’m sure you’ll be fine” or even “let me know if you need anything”. Of course, these can be sincere gestures but they are often distant, impersonal, and even scripted. By offering to help, it shows he was willing to take initiative and the offer itself was simply comforting itself. (Disclaimer: This can be a semi-dangerous situation. Hopefully, your partner is reasonable and will not ask you to fly across the country to rub their tummy or be a shoulder to cry on if their puppy didn’t make it.)
- Spend quality time together – Of course, this sounds simple, but it is definitely harder said than done, especially in this fast-paced, instant gratification driven society. Spending quality, uninterrupted time together is the glue in any relationship. You don’t need to do anything fancy, crazy, expensive or uber creative. It simply means spending time together and enjoying each other’s company with little to no interruption as possible. (I get it, there’s work. My boyfriend and I are entrepreneurs so we are always on call, putting out fires, and have a to-do list that would make most people cry and yet, we still try our best.) Having a partner that is equally understanding and respectful of your time and efforts is crucial for this to work. Personally, I do wish I was able to spend more time with my partner than I do now, due to his demanding schedule. However, when he is able to carve out time, naturally, we make sure it’s worth it. (Another disclaimer, you will have to actually enjoy your partner’s company for this to work. If you cannot stand being alone with your partner without doing some uber exciting activity or something to keep you from facing each other, you might want to reconsider your relationship, just saying.)
- Always remember to appreciate, respect, and consider your partner’s perspective. I may not know about your relationship but I entrust that you chose to be with your partner. You chose this person, out of everyone else, to give your time, affection, and respect to. People tend to underestimate how much a relationship can have an effect on them. In many cases, they are the person you spend the most time with (whether it is in person or through daily communication). You open yourself up this individual and share your most vulnerable and authentic self. For some, you may see and cater a future with them. That means you must respect their opinion and you value their input. Therefore, whether you admit it or not, they have influence over you (influence is different than power. Your partner should not have “power” over you seeing how you are equals). So why not appreciate them for the love, thoughtfulness, and kindness they have shown? Why not respect them as their own person, for their thoughts, ideas, and ambitions? Why not try to see the world through their perspective, learn about them, from them, and try to understand this amazing person you’re sharing your life with (or at least part of it)? Wouldn’t want them to do the same with you?
Being in a meaningful and healthy relationship goes beyond gifts, elaborate vacations, and expensive dinners. (Side note, picture perfect relationships are often prettier on camera than in person so be careful of what you wish for.) It’s about companionship, respect, and growth. Maybe you don’t see a future in this relationship and that’s ok. You should still value the time you’ve spent together, along with the respect and love you’ve both shared.
Personally, I find those nights that were my boyfriend and I cuddle under my candlelit room, sharing kisses, stories, and experiences most meaningful. We don’t need exciting plans, Instagram worthy dinners, or drunken adventures to have a good time. We simply appreciate each other time and company.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post since it’s been a long time coming. I also hope that this has inspired you to reflect on your relationship and refocus on the basics to grow and better your relationships. (Ladies, please be kind to yourself and your partner and try not to stress too much with “fixing your relationship”. All of this can be achieved when open minds, communication, and finding a middle ground. If you do make suggestions, or better yet, adjustments, in your relationships, please do it with kindness and respect for your partner.) I wish you all the best of luck this loving holiday, relationship or not, it’s all about appreciating the amazing people you have in your life.
Inspired by my partner and his love
Melissa Thi Le is the Founder of Strive With Me, a business owner, and community leader. She loves learning about personal development, business, and social impact as she builds a life dedicated to combating social issues affecting millions of people. She created Strive With Me to build a community to support each other on their journey towards achieving their goals. You can reach Melissa by sending her an email: Contributor@strivewithme.com or joining our Facebook Group. You can read more about what Melissa is striving for here.