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You Can Buy Yourself Flowers

4 tips to stay in love this Valentine's Day and beyond.

Key points

  • Self-love is the foundation for the love we cultivate with our significant others.
  • Presence is one of our greatest and most precious gifts.
  • Fall in love with the world to stay a "romantic" throughout the year.

How can you keep the love for yourself and your significant other going strong throughout the year and not only on this Valentine's? Here are four simple but far-reaching tips.

1. You Can Buy Yourself Flowers

Miley Cyrus is spot on to remind us that we can buy ourselves flowers. Or we can take a page from poet Derek Walcott that the time will come when we will "love again the stranger who is yourself." So if it feels a little silly or extravagant to actually buy yourself flowers, make sure to metaphorically give them to yourself. How? Take today to celebrate the things you appreciate about yourself and what you are proud of, encourage yourself in the areas you are growing in, and, above all, be compassionate with the places you are hurting or are still healing.

Why is this self-love so important? To know and love all sides of yourself is the foundation for knowing and loving your significant other in all of their facets.

2. Your Presence Is the Best Gift

Couples therapist and researcher John Gottman found that we are emotionally available and in sync with our partners only 9 percent of the time. So, tonight, whether you take your partner out to a lovely dinner, stay home and watch a movie, or just put down your phone or computer, make presence your biggest gift.

3. Love Is a Moving Target, But We've Got Something on Cupid

Don't despair that we are so often out of sync with each other. Love is a moving target, but the most successful of us in love have got something on Cupid. Even couples who are happily married, committed, and happy in their relationships disagree, fight, and lose their cool. The difference is that these same folks have also learned how to make an art out of repairs.

One easy way is to say I'm sorry without defensiveness: "I'm sorry I made you feel unimportant by leaving our text thread hanging and not responding to you for several hours. I know how much that bothers you." Another method is to remind your significant other how you feel without attacking them by saying something like: "I felt disappointed when you came home from work so late and missed our special show. I love watching that together!"

Notice how each of these repairs makes the room for noticing what hurt and was out of sync but also gives the opportunity and invitation for connecting again. Even better, the meta-message in these statements says, "I really love being close to you, and I want to make this better."

4. Be Romantic With a Capital "R" and Fall in Love With the World

We sometimes get so caught up in the love in our relationships that we forget to fall in love with the world around us and allow ourselves to be continually reenchanted. This is what the Romantic poets saw, and what mental health experts are now seeing in research about the power of awe and wonder. Savor the sunset coming down on the ocean, enjoy the wind rustling the trees in your own backyard, and notice the way the light hits the buildings just so in the cityscape. Better yet, share these moments with the one you love, and you will have it all.

For this Valentine's and beyond, regularly fall in love with yourself, your partner, and the world, and you just might find that Valentine's isn't just one day of the year. Instead, life will become a series of romantic moments that take your breath away.

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