Valentine’s Day is unavoidable. Whether we like it or not, it’s success as a commercial holiday makes it a part of almost everything from the beginning of January to the actual event mid February. Some enjoy the festive atmosphere, others ignore it and make the day more personal. And of course, many have come to dread Valentine’s altogether.
Admittedly, big red hearts and roses everywhere can get overwhelming. The rituals of Valentine’s day, such as gift giving and big romantic gestures, are also not everyone’s cup of tea. But the spirit of the holiday for the die hard fan has always been the same: expressing or even revealing romance and love.
So, if the purpose of Valentine’s Day is telling or showing someone how you feel, what better time to talk about communication? In essence, many of us hope that February 14th is an excuse to say to our romantic interests what we can’t or won’t say any other day. To some, this is an extremely exciting event, and for others, the epitome of a stressful situation.
In general, it is fair to say people’s feelings about Valentine’s boil down to the hope for, push against, or absence of some level of caring communication. This can manifest in different ways for different people. Classics like presents, surprises, or unique dates work for some, while others appreciate little things like alone time with a loved one or some extra attention.
The ways we communicate our feelings with the people we surround ourselves with are key to maintaining healthy relationships. And while it is nice to have Valentine’s day as an opportunity to communicate in new or different ways, there is more than one time a year to communicate how you feel. Working on your loving communication is not always hugs and kisses – and the more honest and sincere your attempts are, the more memorable they will become.
Below are some things to keep in mind when you consider your caring communication skills, both for others in your life and yourself. Being aware of these things can not only give you ideas of how and with what you can express your feelings to your partner, but also what things you appreciate in a caring gesture.
This can be a tricky, but valuable, exercise in a relationship. Initially, it can feel more comfortable to keep some things to yourself in order to avoid “going too fast” or revealing too much. And that much is true. Some people can be scared away by an info dump too early in the game.
That being said, it is equally important to establish honest communication as soon as you can. This may require taking some social risks, such as asking questions or making confessions that you’d prefer not to voice, but the rewards far outweigh the risks.
The key to this technique is not to expect another person to put himself out there to you alone. Set the precedent and be the role model if you are invested in the relationship. Not only can this break down awkward or uncomfortable wall quickly and efficiently, it can also be surprisingly freeing to both parties.
It’s never too late to start building honesty. It can help you avoid getting (or giving) bad gifts and poorly aimed advice or compliments. Start with simple things and be open minded about the responses and reactions you get. Not liking the same kind of movies does not have to be a deal breaker, but pretending to like movies you hate can drive you crazy slowly and ruin what your partner thinks is a romantic movie date.
We have all heard this advice at least once in life. Most likely, it is because one thing almost everyone loves is to be listened to. It is a simple gift and one that can be given at any time, but it also requires a mental shift, especially if your work, lifestyle, or life without a partner did not have a high demand for quality listening.
In general, learning to truly listen and process the thoughts and words of others is an extremely valuable skill. It can make you more trustworthy and empathetic, as well as much more able to give advice or solve social problems.
In a relationship, listening consists of acknowledging, processing, and remembering. Making sure your partner knows they are being listened to can help you avoid arguments about whether or not you actually hear them at all. Really considering your partner’s ideas and responding to them honestly and appropriately shows that you value their time and want to engage with them. Recalling small thoughts or random comments can not only be surprising and sweet, but is also one of the best ways to inform your gift ideas.
Practicing your listening is somewhat similar to the practice of mindfulness in that it may require a mental shift. And like mindfulness, it comes with a rewarding new outlook and skill set.
As was mentioned above, there are a wealth of opportunities to communicate your feelings outside of Valentine’s Day. In reality, there does not have to be a reason to say something sweet to your partner. This we might all know, but the hard part is remembering that fact when we are not surrounded by pictures of cupid and heart shaped everything.
The fact is, the simple act of remembering to do it when you are not reminded is, at it’s core, the most caring type of communication. It says you are thinking of someone else, that you value their part in your life, and that their changes, quirks, and thoughts matter to you.
The quality of how you can express that feeling comes from your knowledge of that person, and that knowledge comes from both passive time together and active interaction. Being honest with both your partner and yourself can lead to surprising new similar interests and avoidances. It also can stop you from feeling helpless or out of ideas when a Valentine’s Day does come up. Listening will add to your ability to communicate honestly, and may stop you from making suggestions or prodding area that your partner would rather you didn’t.
Ultimately, it all comes down to information. Reducing the stress you feel about events like Valentine’s day is as simple as not leaving the important things to chance. Are you casual or serious? Flowers or chocolates? Adventure or Romance? All of the above or none? Finding the answers may not be easy, but learning can be fun if you are passionate about the subject. Try a little communication this Valentine’s Day and make it special in ways that are uniquely you!
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