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Reimagining the Annual Day of Love

Valentine’s Day: love it or loathe it, nowadays it seems almost impossible to avoid. Relationship ‘guru’ Esther Perel shares her thoughts on why this day of love is for everyone – not just couples!

“Making time is a ritual, and rituals aren’t negotiated — they are performed.

Valentine’s Day comes each year with mixed reactions. We can choose to be cynical and focus on the commercialisation, but many holidays have suffered the fate of superficiality. We haven’t stop celebrating Christmas, have we? The fact is, holidays give us the opportunity us to acknowledge new connections, losses, joys, and painful rejections.

Rather than make Valentine’s Day a holiday only for couples, let’s make it a day to toast love.

We are all in relationships, whether in a committed romantic one, or not. Hence, let’s make February 14 a day to honour all the love in our lives, not only the romantic kind.

Rather than make Valentine’s Day a holiday only for couples, let’s make it a day to toast love.

You may feel that unless your relationship is thriving and you are on cloud nine, you don’t deserve to partake in the celebration of love. As if those in crisis or state of struggle cannot acknowledge any positive feelings because it would feel fraudulent. In fact, when you’re in a rough place, this is exactly the time your relationship could use a good dose of TLC.

I encourage you to reflect upon your relationships and to reach out to those you love. So, if you were leaning toward just going through the motions this year, or dismissing Valentine’s Day altogether, perhaps think again.

Here are a few things you can do to mark a moment and express yourself.

Keep it Simple

Once I had a patient who wanted to do something special for his wife. He began designing an intricate photo book on his computer, and got so consumed with making it perfect that Valentine’s came and went, and a month later he still hadn’t given her anything. The idea was sweet, but he got so carried away with his desire for perfection that he forgot the original purpose of the gift. Simple goes a long way, and it doesn’t take much to buy flowers.

Think Outside of the Box

Don’t do your typical date night. Instead, plan something that is FUN, makes you feel alive, and that you haven’t done for a while. I always encourage an element of surprise, for it conveys intentionality and thoughtfulness. For example, instead of an ordinary dinner out, go to the Russian Baths, a joint massage, a bike trip along the river at night, or hire a singer to serenade you at your home. I know many of you long for more than sitting, talking and looking at each other across the table. But if you’ve already worked hard to get the perfect dinner reservation, make it memorable. Here’s how…

Write Something (But Not On A Card)

There is no more powerful gesture than to write something down about your relationship, and then, before the first drink is served, read it to your partner. Personal composition and reading aloud changes everything and adds the secret sauce. This shows the one you love, “I took time for you, I thought about you, I am telling you out loud.” This is the meaning — the actual dinner is irrelevant. Write something that gives dinner meaning, and read it out loud.”

Esther Perel is recognised as one of the most insightful and provocative voices on personal and professional relationships and the complex science behind human interaction. Thank you Esther for sharing your words with us. You can read this article alongside more wonderful posts from Esther by visiting her website

We’d love to hear from you. What do you think of Valentine’s Day? Do you do anything to celebrate your relationships?

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