Romantic love is great, but the idealization of love may be harmful. Everyone shows up differently to a relationship and the ability to form healthy, loving relationships is learned.
An article on Psychology Today says, “some evidence suggests that the ability to form a stable relationship starts to form in infancy, in a child’s earliest experiences with a caregiver who reliably meets the infant’s needs for food, care, warmth, protection,
stimulation, and social contact.”
Digging in further, an article on Marriage.com says, “relationship expectations are
developed early during our childhood; some are developed by observing the relationships of
friends and families while others are formed later in life as we become exposed to the
media… we are shelled by messages about what love ought to resemble, what we ought to
anticipate from our partners, and what it implies if our relationship doesn’t satisfy those
While February may be known for Valentine’s Day—and the expectations that accompany
it—there’s no need to put expectancies on your relationships. It’s time to reframe the way
you think and feel about the “season of love.” Here’s how.
Celebrate All Kinds of Love
Love comes in many forms. Valentine’s Day may emphasize the need for a specific type of relationship, most notably a romantic relationship. But instead, use this time of year to
celebrate all types of love—honoring and spending time with all the people you love, including yourself.
Loving yourself means accepting yourself in all forms. Self-compassion is forgiving yourself and giving yourself permission to go easy amid your struggles. In fact, compassion is shown to improve health and wellness because of its ability to drive meaningful interactions. Self-compassion respects your desires and can enhance a relationship, regardless of who it’s with.
When it comes to celebrating love, celebrate love in your relationships however you
celebrate other milestones like a special achievement, birthday, or anniversary. So, if you’d
throw a party to mark those milestones, do that to celebrate love-if not a party, maybe an
extravagate dinner feels more authentic. Regardless, do what makes you feel loved. Because
ultimately, all love is worth celebrating.
Focus on Connection
Connection and relationships shouldn’t be limited to one day. Focusing on the connection of a relationship may improve your overall health. Social connection can lower anxiety and
depression, helping to regulate your emotions. It can lead to higher self-esteem and empathy and improve your immune system. Neglecting your need to connect, puts your health at risk. Even if you’re not in a romantic relationship, aim to connect with others.
A great way to connect with others without focusing on romance is by celebrating Galentine’s Day—a day to celebrate the love you have for your friends, whether they’re single or not, and shower them with love and attention.
Connectivity is why group work and social systems are so important. We are social beings—we are meant to be around people and in relationships. Many have witnessed how
Covid-19 has impacted this and limited our social capabilities. This is because we are wired
for social interaction and relationships—which is why relationships can be either healing or
One of the ways to reframe the way you think about the season of love is to cultivate gratitude and appreciation. Gratitude is a positive emotion that involves being thankful and appreciative. The practice of gratitude can have a significant positive impact on both physical and psychological health including:
- Better sleep
- Better immunity
- Higher self-esteem
- Decreased stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Less anxiety and depression
- Stronger relationships
- Higher levels of optimism
The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. But practicing gratitude isn’t always easy—especially if you’re experiencing anxiety or depression. Here are a few ways you can practice gratitude.
- Practice thankfulness through generosity
- Acknowledge how far you’re come
- Thank people for small acts of kindness
- Be mindful of the things around you, especially the relationships you have
Gratitude can also start with loving yourself. Once you love yourself, you can effectively spread your love to your friendships, your parents, partner or spouse, and children.
Allow Yourself to Heal
In my therapy practice, I often talk about healing in relationships. For healing to happen, a
relationship must be healthy because it can be equally harmful and triggering if it’s not a
A healthy relationship can help heal attachments wounds, issues with your inner child, and
trauma (like sexual or relationship trauma); build self-confidence and mend struggles with
self-worth. Being in a relationship that is healthy and fulfilling can provide a safe, healing
space. This is because you can be yourself and share your intentions—you are permitted to
be authentic. But also because despite of your imperfections, they love you and give you
permission to be messy.
Healthy relationships create a space where balance and harmony support the healing
process. They also acknowledge the importance of emotional and spiritual well-being. Here
are some other characteristics of a healthy relationship.
- Respect for the feelings, opinions, and viewpoints of each other
- Respect for differences and diversity
- Direct and honest communication
- Dealing with conflict
- Feedback is given without shaming, blaming, or other verbal and emotional abuse
- Boundaries are clear (and respected)
- Each person is responsible and accountable
- Commitment is expected and nurtured
- Needs are of equal importance
- Trust is established
- Problem solving is collaborative
- Competition is avoided
Boundaries are a good thing in any relationship. Getting your needs met is important. But
also being able to express and communicate openly what those needs are and being able to
compromise is important.
It’s important to realize that you don’t have to heal yourself before entering in a healthy
relationship, and you don’t have to be in a relationship to heal.
There is often a misnomer that you must be perfect before you enter a healthy relationship.
This can be paralyzing for some because they think they are not worthy of a relationship.
That’s simply not true. Everyone deserves a healthy and fulfilling relationship in their life
regardless of their past.
If you are experiencing challenges in any of your relationships and are ready to heal, contact
us today to book a session. The key to your well-being may be found in the resolution of past