Kim Barlow-Miles Counselling

….on Valentine’s Day, my ‘true love’ gave to me…?

On Saturday February 8th I contributed again to a BBC Radio Nottingham Morning Show, hosted by Frances Finn. Our interest was centred on a newspaper report about what women really want from their ‘true love’ on Valentine’s Day, namely, some help around the home, a bit of vacuuming, perhaps……

The principle behind this is that ‘actions speak louder than words’; they show awareness of what is important to the loved one, and care for her needs, ‘easing her burden’ especially if the doer himself does not consider a clean and tidy home to be a priority and may dislike housework.  The action requires effort, unlike simply buying a card and some chocolates or flowers. Doing something like this is the opposite of letting someone down and broken promises. (See Relational Needs , points 4 and 7)

However, a gift can also be immensely meaningful if it is chosen with thoughtfulness and understanding of the loved one’s special interests and taste; even more so if it is unexpected, which possibly, for Valentine’s Day, it might not be….( See Relational Needs, points 5 and 6)

The same applies to a card if it shows evidence of being carefully selected to be just right for the loved one, and especially applicable to their relationship. But without a personally written message of love and validation, it might still seem hollow; positive, specifically targeted words have the power to make us feel unique, worth-full and uplifted, just as negative ones can demoralise and distress. Sadly, we tend to hang on to the latter for longer, and even use them against ourselves. (See Relational Needs, points 2 and 6)

It is natural to seek proof that the positive words are not empty ones, and often this may mean they need to be backed up, for example by actions such as those described above or by physical touch / intimacy. A caress, a kiss, a hug given without being asked, at just the right time, can convey a deep message of love, and togetherness and make the loved one feel secure, desired and special. (See Relational Needs, points 1 and 7)

‘Specialness’ is critical for self-worth and confidence; if we are not truly special to the one we love and believe ourselves to be loved by, it will eventually undermine the relationship. Having ‘quality time’ with the loved one is essential; this provides the opportunity if one is not otherwise readily available to give our undivided attention to the loved one, listening attentively, to the music behind the words, as well as to the words themselves so we can show how important he/she is to us. Again this is the opposite of being self-absorbed, distracted, disinterested and merely paying ‘lip service’ to the principle of Valentine’s Day.  (See Relational Needs, points 2,3 ,4 and 5, 6 and 8 )

The psychotherapy theory supporting these themes can be found an article Attunement and Involvement: therapeutic responses to relational needs, by Richard Erskine (1998),  briefly itemised below. He describes eight aspects of relationship which we seek from cradle to grave with our significant other person, starting with mother. We need:

1.Security, to feel safe

2.Validation, to feel worth-full

3.Reliability, consistency ,dependability

4.Confirmation of our experience, sharing it

5.Self-definition – supporting us to understand who we are, establishing an identity we comprehend.

6.Impact – we make a positive emotional impact on this person, she/he on us.

7.His/her willingness to initiate – not delaying making the first move when we are stuck/blocked

8.The opportunity to express our love

So, in summary, what we most want from our ‘true love’, I would contend, is to feel special by experiencing ‘quality time’ together, which meets the majority of the 8 needs.

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