The quality of your relationship with yourself determines the quality of your relationship with everything else.
~ Robert Holden
Whether you think of Valentine’s Day as a crass, commercialized con game promoted by corporations that want to cash in or a bliss-filled day celebrating love and romance, it’s hard to ignore it altogether. Even so, that’s what I usually do – ignore it. Even when I was married, we had a pact to just leave it alone. It seemed like a win-win proposition because we weren’t into all that mushy, sentimental crap that paraded itself as love.
Our Western ideal of romantic love was born into our society around the 12th century and was based upon spiritual idealism. French love stories, “romans” contain the great themes that formed the basis for the romantic literature that followed. It was based on a “holy passion” that a knight has for a woman based on divine feminine worship. He never touches her but dedicates his life to being worthy of her.
Romantic love is storybook love we are still trying to live out a version of in our everyday lives. Romantic love is based on psychological patterns where the woman is more like an untouchable goddess than a mortal, human woman. The man worships her and is tasked with heroic deeds to keep her safe and win her love. Passion has a spiritual intensity of ecstasy and despair, including joyous meetings and tearful partings.
The ideal of romantic love gives it a superhuman intensity, which turns out to be a very poor basis for modern, healthy relationships. It has us seek passion and intensity, which can be unattainable, and certainly not sustainable. This creates unrealistic expectations, discontent when they are not met, and then judgment.
This romantic love idea is a huge culturally transmitted system of belief and can be so unconsciously maintained that it blocks men and women from experiencing a deeper, truer kind of love.
Romantic love is not really love but a complex of attitudes about love – involuntary feelings, ideals, and reactions. It gives rise to the thought that you need a romantic partner to complete yourself. This, then, becomes an attachment to finding the right partner, the Soul Partner, who is your “twin flame.” This leads to objectifying the other person and seeking love outside of ourselves.
That can be a setup for co-dependency and devastation. (Codependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior.)
So, what’s a more realistic and empowering way to look at love? Love has to start with you. With Self-Love. If that seems like a stretch, how about at least being kinder toward yourself?
My thought is that love must include Self-Love or it’s not going to work in the long run. When two people who have genuine love and compassion for themselves first join together in loving, it is a beautiful thing. No one gets left out. By contrast, when you are not loving yourself first, you are setting the expectation that somebody else should do that for you. Truth is, only you know how to really love yourself.
Cue our modern Valentine’s Day and all the pressure, expectations, hopes, and fears – a recipe for stress and upset! It’s a day of dread for many, often because they don’t have a “special someone” to shower them with gifts or grand gestures. Dedicated to the ideal of romantic love, Valentine’s Day is in desperate need of a conscious makeover.
What if Valentine’s Day became a day to celebrate Self-Love?
Let me know what you think.
We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.
~ Tom Robbins
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Carrie Doubts is a Transformational Coach specializing in supporting people through life transitions. Her 9-step Program, Rebuilding Your Life After Loss, helps people to reconnect with their heart, reclaim their power, and re-align with their purpose to create their life’s next chapter.