Category Archives: Valentine’s Day

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If You’re a Valentine’s Day Hater, You’re Missing The Point

The cynicism surrounding Valentine’s Day is enormous. It only takes one peek at our FB newsfeed to see people buying into it or remarking how it’s a “Hallmark Holiday”.

There is tremendous value in the holiday though. For some couples it’s an amazing opportunity to celebrate their love for one another, and for others it’s a necessary reminder as to the importance of expressing our love to the special people in our lives. The reminder is great, but what does it say about the state of love and relationships that we need this reminder?

And for single people, if the pressure they feel every other day of the year wasn’t bad enough, V-Day is that pressure on speed and steroids. Combine that lonely desperation with alcohol at the bar and it’s a recipe for some high pressure loving that will lead nowhere good, unless good is an orgasm.

Why do we need to HAVE to have someone to celebrate this day with, and if we don’t, we’re a failure?

I think V-Day just perpetuates a commonly endorsed misconception and belief about relationships:

Being “in a relationship” is better than being single.

The truth is that being happy has nothing to do with being in a relationship, and everything to do with just being happy, alone.

Research suggests this too. It’s happy people who have great relationships, not people in relationships who are happy.

In other words: Happy single people become happy romantic partners. 

Happy people report greater relationship satisfaction, improved health outcomes, and a lower divorce rate. 

Of course healthy relationships and shared connections are important, but it’s not a romantic relationship that is predictive of our level of happiness, but more so relationships in general. 

People who have great interpersonal relationships with friends, family, and lovers, are happier.

Not surprisingly, they also have a great relationship with themselves. They can sit comfortably in their own thoughts and find peace and fulfillment through spending time alone. 

“My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.” – Warsan Shires

Because truthfully, it’s always been about falling in love with ourselves first. It’s from that place where we choose relationship partners who add to our already amazing life. That way we know we’re picking kick-a*s people who remind us that love comes from a place that’s whole, not empty. If they don’t improve our lives and help us grow, and us do the same for them, then they are not welcome to join us on the ride.

Sure, even when we find someone from that place of fulfillment we can still take each other for granted and the little “wake-up” that V-Day can provide is important to remind us that it’s all about the little things. 

The types of things that are the fuel to continued love and connection. 

“Do what you did at the beginning of the relationship and there won’t be an end.” ~Tony Robbins

Love is born through everything we do. Love is a verb. 

And we need to communicate it on the daily. 

I’m not saying we need to buy our partner chocolate and such each and every day. What I am saying is couples can, and need to, consistently communicate love through how they speak to and interact with one another in each moment. 

Something as simple as buying your lady her favourite coffee on your way home from work, or getting dressed up to look sexy because we want to capture their heart and show each other we’re still trying.

That’s it. People want to know that they matter. 

They want to know that you’ll still fight for them and try to win their love. 

They want to know that you’ll pry their heart open when they’re on the verge of closing it and still wine and dine them to get some loving by earning it, not expecting it. 

They don’t want you to skip foreplay because “it’s just not something we do anymore”. 

All of these things matter, and intimacy and sexual connection need to be a beautiful event and production at times. 

Sometimes candles are nice. Sometimes lingerie is. 

Team that up with some R&B and handcuffs and we have a party. 

Valentine’s Day is just another day, and it’s all about how we use each and every day to improve how we are showing up to the world and to love. 

Although this is the “official” day we celebrate, it should be no different than any other. 

It is a beautiful reminder that we should never forget love requires effort. 

Whether we’re single or taken, being happy and personally fulfilled is the most important thing we can do for not only ourselves, but also for our partner, even if we haven’t met them yet.


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What Your Partner REALLY Wants For Christmas

Let’s be honest, buying gifts for others can suck. Often sucks. Almost always sucks. I remember when I was younger I really struggled with finding a gift for my dad. Man, he was so hard to shop for. He is one of those people that if he wanted something, he would just go buy it. On top of that, he’s a publicly declared minimalist… He wore the same pairs of shorts for what seemed like twelve years, only to be replaced because of the risk of getting charged for indecent exposure. Thanks to new shorts, he’s still allowed around playgrounds.

The imminent approach of any holidays has a direct correlation to a rise in our blood pressure. Whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, birthdays, whatever holiday it may be,  buying the perfect gift is something that can cause a lot of stress, right?! Especially when it comes to our romantic partners.

We want a great gift to be thoughtful, unique, creative, and for it to mean something. That’s a lot of pressure isn’t it?! And, of course, when we ask our partners what they would like, we’re more often than not, met with the incredibly irritating reply, “I don’t need or want anything, it’s fine.” Ha. I’ve fallen for this one. It’s total BS. It’s like a trap just waiting for us to take the bait. We only make that mistake once. That’s when we hear after, “I know I said I didn’t want anything, but I didn’t mean it.” Ok great, now we’re saying things we don’t mean.

And to think, all we had to do was get them something…anything, really!

So in the land of relationship booby-traps, how do we satisfy the list of things from above that make a great gift, and make it meaningful?!?

The research is very fascinating on this subject, because when we look at buying a gift, we usually consider a material gift, like a purse or a watch, versus an experience, like a vacation or a thoughtful day planned out.

Gifts, i.e.  material things, are instantaneously gratifying. We get a spike in happiness and well-being when we receive them, but that feeling doesn’t last long (hedonic adaptation). And soon, that purse that cost more than any rational human should pay for a bag, becomes the emotionless container to carry all your partner’s stuff for them. That watch just reminds us of how late we’re running to pick up the our lovely partner who was supposed to make time stand still.

So what’s the secret to a great gift? Firstly, I don’t want to dismiss the value of a material gift. If it’s something that we’ve wanted for awhile it can be very gratifying and mean a lot. In order to buy a great gift listen to the things your partner says in passing, the little cues when they mention or reference something he/she would like but they’re not explicit about. This type of gift serves two purposes, (1) It indicates you listen even when you don’t have to, and (2) You care about the things you hear in those moments. The ability to hear things and take note is a great sign of thoughtfulness and will have your partner feeling both cared for, and appreciated. Now those are two great feelings that nurture and foster great connection.

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So now that we’re done defining what makes for great material gifts, let’s look at what the research proposes will win their heart, and having them feel all of the elation that great partnerships provide.

Experiences, bar none are the greatest gifts. Here’s why:

  1. They are new. They are novel. Adventure is sexy. People love feeling loved. Material gifts are one small second of bliss,  experiences are a smorgasbord of those moments. And the very cool part is that you’ll be associated with this novelty and newness. A passive way of stimulating the same neurotransmitters that are associated with love. That’s right, your partner will fall in love with you all over again. Think of the “honeymoon stage” we are all made to believe is only at the beginning of relationships. Maybe it’s only at the beginning because we stop doing new things? We can literally trick (or is it a trick?!) our hearts and minds into seeing the person differently.
  2. The emotions the experience produces can be relived. WHAT?! Wait. That’s right, this is the gift that can keep giving. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you took someone on a day trip to the mountains. You packed a lunch, you drank wine, you went for a hike, you humped in the bushes. Whatever. Fast forward six months and you’re sitting on your couch together… You say to your partner, “Hey! Remember that time we did that amazing day trip to the mountains?! We ate great food, we rolled around in the bushes… How fun was that?!” And boom. You’ve just released the emotions associated with that experience. Want to add more? Ask them, “What was your favourite part about that day?”

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In Psychology we call this savouring. In essence, it’s allowing someone to relive a moment and to actually get their physiology to replicate that moment and that experience. You’ve just changed their chemistry with your words. You’re basically a God. If you want to be really good, before you have the experience, you can ask them. “What are you looking forward to most about _________ (insert awesome idea here).” Anticipatory savouring… that’s next level.

So, if you want to be the ultimate gift buying baller, you could combine the two. I don’t want to give away the farm (and give away my future ideas to my lady), but one thing that is brilliant is to plan a special day when they get a gift that matters and an experience that matters. True love and connection isn’t built on “stuff”, it’s built on shared moments.

Ultimately, the secret to giving great gifts is making them meaningful. People just want to feel loved. They want us to pay attention to the moments between the perceived important ones. They want us to care and listen even when we don’t have to. They want us to recognize the little things that light their heart up.

It doesn’t take money to be a great partner, it takes care and attention, and, at the end of the day, effort. Demonstrate that you care, and they’ll know you do, they won’t have to ask or wonder. It doesn’t matter what our words are if between our words and actions there’s a disconnect.

As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Let the emotional intention you have guide where you invest your time and money… and you’ll find your partner’s emotions will follow suit.