Yes, it’s here again. Is it time to ‘do what’s expected’ of you?
Why do we do this on a designated day each year? How honest are we being?
There’s no escaping the commercial and emotional pressures to ‘purchase the gifts’ that are expected, but what does it say about your relationship? Is it based upon expectation and obligation, compliance with social norms, fitting in with your partner’s preferences about how you should ‘show’ your ‘love’ for them? Do you also have your own set of expectations about what you will receive and how much was spent on your gift? Will you be disappointed not to receive anything tomorrow?
A recent newspaper article (Daily Mail 29th Jan 2013) cites research which indicates that friendship is the key to love. What sort of love? We don’t desire what we can too easily have, and friendships don’t involve much in the way of desire – although to behave with your partner as you would with a valued and respected friend is always a positive thing. There are different types of love, and there are different ways, and expectations, of showing love – the question is….do they match up with your partner’s?
When we embark upon a new relationship we are running wild on hope, desire, lust, and those all important brain chemicals Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, Vasopressin and Endorphins. A very addictive cocktail that can cloud, and often completely obscure our reasoning and common sense. Often these don’t return until we become tolerant of, and resistant to, the effects of the ‘love cocktail’– or when boredom or a life-changing event (such as pregnancy) clear our vision and bring us back down to earth with a sobering bump.
It seems ‘unromantic’ to assess our compatibility with a partner – and yet our relationships are one of the most important aspects of our lives. We like similarity as well as interesting differences, and we do need to find out if our underlying characters are compatible and that we have similar goals and values. We want to be travelling in the same direction and singing in harmony as we climb and stumble along the way.
We humans cannot survive in isolation, and yet many people feel isolated whilst in a relationship…..but they still buy the Valentine gifts as a way of keeping the peace, or avoiding facing, and having to deal, with what is lacking in their soul-less relationships.
An article I saw today (Medical News Today dated 12th February2013) cites more research (of course) to be published in the Association for Psychological Science which suggests that ‘feeling stuck….. leads people to justify and rationalize their position and even to become evangelists for their lifestyle, and to tell others that being single works best for them (if they are single) or that being married/in a relationship suits them best (if they are in one).’ It adds that ‘people idealized their own status as the norm for others to follow – which applied to both single and coupled participants; and that people then treated other people of a similar relationship status more favourably.’
No surprise there then (there rarely is with current ‘research’). We make the best of a bad job and convince others that our way is best and we then mix with and prefer to be with similar people…..that’s just human nature….but how honest and helpful is it?
There are some fortunate couples who know how to love and be loved. How to play fair and how to act with care, kindness, consideration and compassion. Sadly these relationships are in the minority – but they give the rest of us something to aspire to. What we saw, learned and internalised from our parents’ relationship will inevitably have shaped our approach and commitment to our own adult relationships. The good news is, that with awareness things can be changed and relationships can be enhanced.
Most of us learned nothing about relationships at school/college apart from the fumbling experiences we had. We may have learned lots of academic stuff that has proved to be of absolutely no use to us as adults. My Latin, algebra, trigonometry, and the works of Shakespeare do not figure in my life at all despite the many hours spent on them at school. I’d have been much better off learning about what good relationships look like and how to create and maintain them. Now that would have saved me many years of angst and disappointment!
Still, it’s never too late to learn how to live a better and more enriching and rewarding life, and to have better relationships. The 8-week group ‘Understanding Relationships’ will help you to fill in the gaps, assess and improve your relationships. Knowledge, learning and understanding through Psycho-Emotional-Education from ‘The Ripple Effect’ Process is designed for this purpose – and for you to have fun doing so too of course!