This week we are celebrating relationships where our needs for companionship, intimacy, and love are met. Whether you are celebrating Galentine’s Day (Where my girls at?) or Valentine’s Day, this holiday season is a great time to reflect on how you offer love and kindness to others, receive it from others, and offer it to yourself. Side note: If you haven’t heard of Galentine’s Day, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Episode 16, Season 2 of Parks and Rec. Hands down, Leslie Knop is who I want at my Galentine’s Day brunch!!
Kindness to others
The golden rule says that we should treat people the way that we want to be treated. However, can I encourage you to consider what fills up the other person’s love tank when you are considering how you want to appreciate them? Dr. Gary Chapman is widely known for identifying the 5 Love languages, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. I’ll give a brief description of each here. For those that you want to appreciate, consider what fits them.
Words of affirmation
Simply put, your friend or significant other feels most loved or appreciated by what you say to them. Writing them a card, poem, or song that expresses your heartfelt appreciation will send their hearts soaring.
For the person who values quality time, face-to-face contact matters. This could be in person or via video, but are you spending time with someone where they have your undivided attention? A gift for this person would be to share an experience together.
Hallmark is jumping for joy if your person likes gifts. Gifts that show that you have thought about someone specifically, maybe it’s something that they’ve been saying that they’ve wanted for a long time. Maybe you get them something that you’ve noticed that they need. Price tag isn’t as important as the thought behind it.
Acts of service
Can you say, washing the dishes and taking out the trash? For this person, helping out with practical needs brings the greatest joy.
Have you given this person a hug or kiss lately? Held their hand? Snuggled? High-fived them? These folks feel deeply connected and appreciated when they feel human to human contact.
Have some ideas in mind? Next, let’s consider how you like to receive love and kindness as well as how you can offer it to yourself.
Love for yourself
As you were reading about these 5 love languages, I hope you were also considering in the back of your head…which of these things do I feel loved by? It is possible that how you receive love could be different than the way that you give love to others.
While I think this is important to consider, as you reflect on what you need during this time I’d love for you to notice or pay attention to yourself.
What emotions are you feeling as you think about this holiday season? Are you feeling sad, mad, resentful, lonely, bitter? Does it make you feel weepy or aware of your deep desire for intimacy and connection? What are you noticing in your body? Is there a tightness in your chest, tingling in your arms, has your breathing become more rapid? I often say that our emotions and bodies’ response to holidays can be a great barometer for what we need, and therefore, what we can ask for from others.
Check out this worksheet on Faux feelings for tips on how to get what you need. For example, if you are feeling lonely or abandoned, it’s important that you experience nurture, connection, support, care or belonging. How you ask for this or seek this out is important. When I am feeling like I need to feel nurtured, I may ask my husband to hold my hand, or if I don’t have access to him, I’ll go to the grocery store and stand in the line where someone has to ring up my groceries instead of the self-serve counter. That might be a silly example, but the struggle for connection when we are feeling most vulnerable is real.
Whether it’s Galentine’s Day or Valentine’s Day, know that intimacy, love, and connection is something that most people want, and everyone should be able to receive. If you’d like to talk further about this, I’m a phone call away.
Written by therapist Pamela Larkin
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