by Jacquelyn J. Core JD PhD

Ah Valentine’s Day… are you one of those people who swoons at the thought of sweets from your sweetheart, or do you think of Valentine’s Day as a gimmick? Regardless of how you feel about cupid’s holiday, treat yourself this year by recognizing that Valentine’s Day is a time for healthy relationships. Whether you are hitched, seeking a new relationship, or valuing your time alone, focusing on healthy relationships can make Valentine’s Day great.

What makes a relationship healthy? At the risk of the lawyer answer… it depends, but it certainly starts with mutuality. Mutuality of respect, kindness, and passions. While your sweetheart does not have to be like you in all ways or be passionate about all the same things, and while you do not have to love everything your sweetheart loves (after all, they DO say that opposites attract), some fundamental common ground is key. For the occasions where you would rather not tag along (What do you mean you don’t want to comb vintage markets for tea cups that don’t match?), have respect for what your love loves.

Looking for a new relationship this February? Try looking for someone with common interests. Find a group of people with whom you can connect who love what you love and do what you do… join a club, attend community meetings and events, or learn a new or hone an existing skill you have always wanted to try or to perfect… you just might find a Valentine in the making.

In a relationship already? Make Valentine’s Day even sweeter by seeking common ground. Find what you both love to do, and do more of it. Can’t seem to figure out what you have in common? Find something new. Take a class or a simple walk, try making household chores fun… cook together, do a grocery store scavenger hunt until the list is complete, or make your household tasks a race. A brilliant new friend told me that she and her husband race to straighten up the house during TV commercials. They get exercise, the house gets cleaned, and they have fun doing it. What a great idea Roxanne! It’s often the little things that bring and keep us together.

Happy solo? Focus on your friends and family. This Valentine’s Day call a loved one you have not talked to in too long. Write a handwritten letter to someone in your family thanking them for something that made a difference in your life. You may be surprised to find out that they did not even know it mattered. Focus on forgiveness and clear the air with past loves. Or be your own Valentine. Do something special for or with yourself. Celebrate your own self-care. Remember that all relationships you have start with you.

Solo travelers through the Valentine’s universe can also focus on work relationships. Do you appreciate your co-workers? I have the best staff on the planet, and I try to tell them often. It costs nothing to recognize a job well done or to notice someone’s extra effort. Build your team.

Be aware of your own wants and needs, and communicate them to those around you in calm, non-demanding ways. Rather than complaining about what you don’t have, make reasonable requests. Remember that most people in your life probably don’t read minds. Sometimes getting what you want is as simple as asking for it. I often have said that while you do not have to tell me 100 times, you do have to tell me once. Regardless of your situation, try to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for the love, past and present, in your life, and focus on the great potential of the future. As we say at the Y… a little better every day! Happy Valentine’s Day…make it, and your relationships, the best ever.

Here’s to your good health!