As Valentine’s Day approaches, there is the obvious mad-dash to buy chocolate, have flowers delivered, make a dinner reservation, and perhaps scribble a few lines of appreciation to a loved one.
There also are many who are single – some dating, looking for love, or just perusing options with an occasional flare of hope for relationship dreams to be fulfilled.
While cards, chocolates, and displays often are designed with a heart, how often is your heart truly invested in day-to-day engagement with your partner or date? Especially over time after being hurt, disappointed, or just busy with daily living, the essence of connecting with a loved one often takes the back-burner.
Loving another requires empathy
Loving another – truly seeking to understand what they want from you to feel cherished and be treated with care – requires empathy.
Empathy involves effort to understand cognitively and emotionally what another feels, thinks, and desires.
Strive to really know how your partner is doing with whatever is going on in their slice of life, even if it’s existing right alongside yours.
How do you exercise your heart and mind to strengthen the muscle of empathy?
The following are some simple, yet not always easy, suggestions that would help you to know your partner a little more deeply, and in turn for them to feel seen, understood, and valued by you.
Respond to what you hear with more questions
Slow down to ask your partner how their day is going, and really listen to the answer – what do their eyes, words, and body language convey? Respond to what you hear with more questions, comments, or reflections about what they’re discussing and how it is for them, rather than turning the conversation back to you.
Celebrate and uplift your partner’s successes
Consider how you can be there to celebrate and uplift your partners’ successes or provide support and care for where they are challenged.
Do they need you to listen and understand without providing advice? Do they want suggestions about how to deal with a situation? Ask them what they most want from you at this time, and generously provide it.
Reflect upon or ask your partner how they most feel loved
Do they light up with compliments or upon hearing words of what they mean to you?
Do they ask for and become excited about time alone? Appreciate a thoughtful gift? Become more relaxed and happy with physical affection, touch, and/ or sexual intimacy? Initiate one or more of these activities or ways of connecting that you believe would make them happy.
Help make the experience a sliver better for all on this journey
If you are dating, don’t forget that this person you are meeting, whether it’s just online exchanging messages before deciding to swipe left, for a first coffee or drink, on a third date, or during the third month is another human seeking to enjoy some element of connection.
Even if it’s only for one night of shared enjoyment, or a short time together before one of you realizes they are not your forever mate, be respectful. They might be your boss’s daughter, your neighbor’s son, or potentially your spouse.
Too often in dating, people are quick to judge and criticize, to ghost someone, to say small, yet hurtful comments. While it might seem funny or be self-protective, you are crossing paths with another human seeking to find love.
Help make the experience just a sliver better for all on this journey who are courageously trying to bring a special someone into their lives.
Effort to put your heart back into love.