Happy Valentine... you!

So here we are - Valentines is here again. We are single; we choose to be single, or someone chooses it for us. Either way, this is the one day of the year that shines a light on us. Restaurants, flower shops, supermarkets - they all talk about the romance and beauty of being a couple.

Lots of couples put enormous pressure on themselves to be all and everything to their partners, and the world sales for valentines in 2018 alone was in excess of £1.1bn sales (www.retailgazette.co.uk).

We can see here the pressure to not only celebrate valentines, but also the pressure to feel part of a couple. This can feel lonely and lead to desperate measures to obtain a partner in time for Valentines.

This is set to be the busiest weekend for traffic towards dating sites, with people joining rising by 75%, and I say fantastic - but let’s get our self-dating ready first; let’s get ourselves ready by getting to know why we struggle in the first place.

  • Why do we have unsuccessful relationships? Why do they always lie/cheat/leave?
  • Why can’t I be happy? Why does everyone else succeed? Why?

Well, I can answer these questions quickly, and there is some good news and some bad news. Here we go...

  • The good news is it’s nothing to do with 'them' - it is everything to do with you.
  • The bad news is it’s nothing to do with 'them' - it is everything to do with you.

Why are our divorce rates still so high? Why do couples split up and struggle to stay together? Well, let’s explore those questions.

We want to look good and stay healthy, so we decided to go to the gym, start running, swimming, play golf... whatever activity we decide to do, we research, try out and find what works for us because then it’s fun and not a chore.

Or, we decide 'I want to try to socialise more', so we call friends, join a group and nurture these friendships, we have fun, we giggle and we get to know each other.

So now we feel at peak fitness, or that we have an amazing group of friends... but its cold outside. 'I'm not going to go for cocktails this week'; 'I'm going to leave the gym until it gets warmer...' how long do we think we will stay in peak fitness? Or when will our friends stop inviting us out? Maintaining any kind of relationship takes time, love, care and commitment, whether in the gym or with friends.

Well, this it seems is what happens in relationships all the time. There is no age that we get sensible and know this; I work with young 20-year-olds to 50-year-married couples. I work with single people who try and try and the same patterns occur in all their relationships, yet they don’t understand why.

We fail to see the common denominator - us.

We meet someone and it’s wonderful and romantic, and then we hope per chance this one will be different, that this time they won’t hurt us, and that this time we will stay together.

This is where 'we' come into it, the choice of making a relationship work is up to us.

How can you make a relationship work?

Well, we have to know who we are, we need to understand what we bring to relationships, and how we choose a partner. What criteria, explicit or implicit, do we lay out to a potential partner?

When we join a dating website, we write so little about who we are and what we want - instead we write from the position of who we want to attract.

So when we say 'I'm fun, gentle, loving and loyal, and friends say I have a good sense of humour', who are you looking to attract? Have you used this before? Does it make you sound like you?

This is where the problem usually lies - we are born with amazing qualities, however, time and life situations tend to create dissatisfaction and disbelief in others.

Yet we continue to search and believe we will find someone, anyone, to be our 'soulmate', then we are so disappointed when they turn out like all the others. And so we begin the internal dialogue... again... 'They’re all the same, that’s it I’m staying single... until the next time I log on to the dating sites', and start it all again.

'If you carry the bricks from your previous relationships, you will end up building the same house' - source unknown

What if the dissatisfaction and disbelief lays in us? What if we change our relationship with us - could this create happier external relationships?

Our modern-day philosopher Alain De Botton says it amazingly in 'Essays in Love' - 'what is so frightening is the extent to which we may idealise others when we have such trouble tolerating ourselves'.

I’m here to tell you YES - the best relationship is with you. To see clients who start to care and respect themselves, to start to value themselves, and to be loving and assertively show others how amazing they are is why I and many others love working with relationships.

You can have a wonderful time for valentines day, and you can decide to have the most loving relationship with yourself.

Happy Valentines YOU.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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