On the surface, the focus of Valentine’s Day seems to be teddy bears and gifts but the deeper meaning of the day lies in relationships — the one you have with yourself and those you have with others. Today, take time to reflect on the different people in your life and your relationships with them. Are you being an active participant in all of your relationships? A good friend, parent or partner?
This Valentine’s Day, celebrate the healthy relationships in your life by realizing what makes them great and by thinking of ways you could make them even better. Here are some ideas for how to deepen the bonds you share with your loved ones.
For your friends:
Are your friendships two-sided, with each of you giving the other support? Take time today to make sure you’re being the best friend you can be. Be there for your buddies in a way that’s focused on them. Practice “active listening” by using clarifying phrases to make sure you know what they are saying. For example,”What I’m hearing you say is _______. Is that right?” Use eye contact during a conversation. Don’t assume anything, and don’t spend time planning what you’ll say next instead of listening to what they’re saying now.
There’s no better time to focus on self-care than this Valentine’s Day. Give yourself the gift of paying a little more attention to #1 today (yes, that’s you!). By working on having a strong, healthy relationship with yourself, you’ll be better equipped to thrive in healthy relationships with friends and loved ones.
If you are a survivor of an abusive relationship and today is a difficult time for you, make sure to focus on your well-being and try to steer clear of things that will remind you of an ex, like the place you always went to dinner together, or a song you both loved. If you’re worried that you might be tempted to your ex, schedule activities with friends to keep you busy and have people you can call. Don’t forget that we’re available at The Hotline, toll free, and 24/7. Call us at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233).
For your community:
February is a great time to give back in some way to your community, because it’s National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. One of the best ways to get the word out is to talk to the schools in your community — attend a PTA meeting and bring handouts for example. Download the teenDVmonth Toolkit which includes pledges, “how to” guides, prep manuals and more.
For your children:
In fostering a healthy relationship with your children, communication and dialogue are key. Take today to talk about healthy dating with your children and the young people in your life. Explain to them that in a healthy relationship, both partners feel free to be themselves and set the boundaries they want. Partners should respect these boundaries and be supportive of each others differences. Stress the importance of communication — and let it begin with this conversation between the two of you. If they want to text or talk on the phone to an advocate their own age, they can call the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 77054.
For your partner:
Healthy relationships are all about respecting and honoring boundaries, but when you’re in a close relationship with someone this might sometimes fall by the wayside. Today, make a special effort to honor your partner’s boundaries, big or small. Does it drive them crazy when you leave the dishes in the sink instead of putting them in the dishwasher? Are they bothered when you show up late to places? Make that extra little effort to try respect their needs, even if it’s as simple as washing dishes and setting your watch back a few minutes. Honoring your partner’s boundaries now will prevent the little things from turning into bigger things later on — it will be a gift for both of you!
What are some ways you plan on celebrating the relationships in your life?