Listen to your feelings this St. Valentine’s Day

When you begin to accept that your heart is as tender and fragile as the smallest of wild birds, then your approach to relationships may change. In fact, your tolerance and acceptance for the ways people treat you will change with a renewed perspective of self-worth and self-care.

There are three general relationship styles that can broadly help you to understand relationships at home, work, and in your community at large:

  1. Transactional Relationships are created based on an exchange of services typically compensated by money or gifts in kind. People are connected with one another by a contracted or agreed upon set of terms where services or products are purchased or provided in exchange for funds. Transactional relationships are fundamentally characterized by money and normally develop for the purpose of financial gain in one or both parties involved. People in transactional relationships usually agree upon the terms in which they have entered, and as such, feel contented, and satisfied with the services or products purchased. Some transactional relationships can last over the long term where individuals develop a sense of loyalty and preference for services or products for which they agree to pay. The most common transactional relationships include your relationships with the people at your places of employment, your lawyer, and accountant.
  2. Exploitive Relationships have obvious and identifiable elements of advantage in favour of one typically dominant person over another. The exploited person is grossly leaned upon or used for the primary purpose of financial, emotional, or sexual gain of the dominant person. People in exploitive relationships have difficulty determining any personal benefits to the relationship over the long term, and instead feel increasingly disgruntled by senses of inequity and unfairness over time. The most identifiable exploitive relationships are sexual in nature where one individual capitalizes on the emotional vulnerability or loneliness of a person for personal satisfaction without any real investment in the care or love for the person over the long term. In general, exploitive relationships usually result in feelings that things are always moving one way and in the opposite direction from you.
  3. Reciprocal Relationships are distinguished by the mutuality of care, compassion, and love experienced in them. There are essential features of equity and fairness in all aspects of reciprocal relationships. All parties feel understood, cared for, and loved. Experiences of reciprocity may occur romantically as well as neighbourly. You will know that a relationship is reciprocal when items or events are planned and shared without any obvious motivation or expectation of personal gain. Equity is experienced over the long term in a satisfying manner due to the ongoing validation, affirmation, and realization of your personal needs by those in relationship with you. You rarely feel used by others in reciprocal relationships and your willingness to share freely and openly is rewarded by genuine responses in kind.

The human heart is traditionally portrayed as the site where your feelings are located. In truth, your emotions result from a highly sophisticated network of neural and sensory pathways throughout your body that are miraculously designed to respond to people, situations, environments and events in which you find yourself. Sometimes, emotionally triggering events occur personally – internal to your body, and at other times, events are external to your body and occur socially. Emotions are always authentic and genuine, although they may not always be interpreted correctly. There is always a margin of error in understanding the ways you feel as the human mind tends to favour personal prejudices that is familiar, preconceived views or perspectives over ideas that are new, novel, strange or foreign.

The annual celebration of St. Valentine’s Day is a good time to review your loving relationships. Originally conceived as a feast day to honour all the loving people in your life, it has evolved over time as a celebration for lovers. Many children continue to celebrate St. Valentines as an expression of care and love of friends by exchanging greeting cards and candy. Adults also mark Valentine’s Day exclusively with the ones they love also by exchanging greeting cards, flowers, usually red roses, chocolates, wine, and candy.

Honouring how you are feeling about the people in your life is a true gift of self-care and wellness. It is not so much that you will be in a constant state of bliss and happiness with your life mate without ever experiencing some disagreements or feelings of unfairness, but that for the most part, you experience one another in a mutually enjoyable manner where your personal needs are met in part by meeting the needs of the one you love. It is through the reciprocity of love that your own needs for love are met.

Take some time over these next two weeks leading up to St. Valentine’s Day to think about the transactional, exploitive, and reciprocal relationships in your life and how and what you might like to do to create new boundaries with those relationships that use and abuse you. Hearts are tender and deserve self-care. Protect your heart this year, and build a healthy boundary for yourself and those who love you reciprocally.

Sunny dispositions deserve to shine!!!!!

Dr. Lisa Romano-Dwyer RSW

#wellness #self-care #love #valentinesday