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Being Present on Valentine’s Day

Being Present on Valentine’s Day (and the other 364 days of the year)

By Angela S. Taylor MA, LPC-S

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we’re reminded to celebrate our relationship and create a romantic day where we express our love. But what if we’re not feeling the love, and what does that actually mean? And what about all of the other 364 days of the year? In our fast paced society, I’m leaning more and more towards the idea of “being present.”

So many things demand our time that we tend to forget how important it is to set everything aside and just be with the person in front of us. Relationships can’t withstand the kind of disconnection that the lack of being present creates between a couple. After all, how can you relate with one another if you barely remember what the other person said five minutes ago because you’re so distracted?

Look, I understand that there are a million things on your plate, from demanding jobs and bosses, to kids, to relatives, to friends, etc. But…dare I say it, all of those things can wait while you nurture your relationship for the hour (or 30 minutes) you have with that person. (And if you don’t have at least 30 minutes a day with your partner, you need to work on creating that.) None of the aspects of your life will be rewarding or beneficial if you don’t fully invest in them, including the relationship with your partner. That text or email in the middle of dinner can wait. I promise.

We tend to forget that the more distracted we are when in the room with someone else, the less important that person feels they are to us. If you’re consistently on your phone or working on a project, the other person doesn’t feel deserving of your time. Inadvertently, you’re telling that person how low he or she is on your priority list. That’s not a message that builds a relationship, but in essence, slowly destroys it.

So, what does being present look like?,

1. Turn the phone off. Phone calls, emails, and texts can wait. There are very few things in life that actually need your immediate attention. The person in front of you deserves that attention and immediateness from you.

2. Turn off the television. That show can wait and isn’t nearly as important to catch up on as it feels at the time. You can’t fully focus on what your partner has to say, or even talk, with a dialogue going on in the background.

3. Focus. Work hard not to let your mind wander to the meeting you had earlier, the crisis that may be brewing for the next day, or your to do list. If your mind is elsewhere, you’re missing out on an opportunity to fully engage.

4. Touch your partner. By holding his or her hand, leaning on his or her shoulder, or placing your leg close to his or hers, you signal your mind to be in the moment with that person. Your body tells your mind that this person means a lot to you and what they say is important to you.

5. Look your partner in the eye. It’s difficult to think of anything else when you’re engaging in active eye contact, and you can really feel another person’s emotions when you concentrate on doing this.

6. Share your day, your emotions, your deepest thoughts, hopes, and dreams. Let your partner in. No matter how long you’ve been together, it’s important to share who you are and what’s going on in your world. Things change, and you change and grow. True connection comes from this type of vulnerability, and this is something that needs continuous work. This is a gift you give yourself and your partner. It’s freeing and connecting all at once.

Challenge yourself. Be fully present on Valentine’s Day. Or…challenge yourself to be present for the week of Valentine’s Day, the month, etc. Step back and see how different you feel about your relationship and your partner after just one encounter of full investment. This is how love is sustained and grown.,

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