“Love gives wings” they say and we agree. There is a particular feeling of lightness that comes alongside love. When we are in love, we feel like our bodies are floating in the air enjoying the moment despite the potential dangers.
Generally, people don’t start romantic relationships with the intention of cheating. Therefore, common sense would dictate infidelity indicates something in the relationship has gone wrong. However, leading relationship expert, Esther Perel, asserts that infidelity is more often a sign of self-exploration.
There is substantial research and evidence on sexual attraction evolving in our ever-changing world, and as we aren’t attracted to individuals solely looking to reproduce and have children so readily, it leaves us questioning what else is there to it. Perhaps it is best to break it down into the finer qualities.
Family: a societal term used to refer to a group of individuals connected by DNA, marriage and/or co-residency. No matter how you define it, the bonds of kinship are strong and, in an age where societal norms have expanded on what constitutes family, everyone forms an alliance of sorts, whether that be with parents, grandparents, siblings or children. In whatever format your family comes, they have a huge impact on your dating life, both for the positive and the negative.
Having a loving and supportive family gives you the confidence to go out into the dating world knowing your worth. Here is a group of people who love you for all your quirks and faults and as a result solidifies the feeling that you’re lovable. This sense of self-worth is imperative to finding a successful, healthy and happy romantic relationship. This is because it helps you seek a partner who will truly love you for who you are, whilst preventing you from accepting a relationship that falls outside the parameters of a healthy relationship. Of course, this sense of self can be found through other means and, in most cases, works in partnership with family, but with family you have a safety net, extra guidance and often a push to follow your heart.
Family allegiances only become problematic if one person in a new relationship has a stronger commitment to their family of origin than the other or their family don’t understand boundaries. If a couple are continually spending time with one person’s family and not the other – should both partners want to spend more time with their own family - then this can create an imbalance in the relationship. This is particularly the case if neither of the couple has children and are in the early stages of moving on from their childhood families. Some may still seek to fulfil their commitments to their family without prioritising the creation of a new one with their partner. That’s not to say that someone cannot be an addition to your family - just ensure you become an addition to theirs, whilst moving forward with making your own family unit with your partner.
This is done by setting boundaries with your family of origin, creating an understanding that your partner is a priority to you and should be accepted into your family under the umbrella of love they show to you. Even if your family doesn’t grow to love the person you’ve chosen to be with, there still needs to be a level of respect shown from both sides. This is often the case when you move into a new relationship and there are children involved. Again, boundaries need to be established, in which both relationships, the one with your child and your new partner, are made a priority. Clear communication amongst all parties will eliminate a sense of ‘he said, she said’ and will increase a sense of togetherness. Of course, there’ll be times where children need to take precedence but that doesn’t diminish the importance of your partner and shouldn’t be expressed as such.
It’s imperative that families see new partners as an addition, as opposed to a hindrance, and remain open and supportive. Clear communication, boundaries and understanding will build family allegiances and a healthy romantic relationship and help all involved to move forward.
Our caveman ancestors weren’t known for gifting their chosen mate with a stuffed bear, selection of sugary treats or bouquet of wildflowers picked from the nearest mountainside on any particular day of the year. So how has Valentine's Day now become such a cultural staple across the globe and how have our patterns of courtship changed since our pre-historic roots?
St Valentine himself was a relatively obscure 3rd century Roman saint martyred on the 14th February. The plethora of handed-down fables and stories-turned-legends that surround him portray him as a heroic character, sympathetic to the hardships of star-crossed lovers in their various permutations, but these tales are hard to prove with any empirical validity. It seems that through a combination of his martyrdom, coinciding with February’s bird mating season, Chaucer’s literary influence in 14th century England and Christian attempts to supersede the pre-existing Pagan fertility holiday of Lupercalia, have propelled him into universal stardom and historical immortality.
Caveman culture was, as far as evolutionary anthropologists can tell, polyamorous and promiscuous. Our ancestors did not mate for life, right up until the last millenium. The invention of modern monogamy and the focus of courtship on one individual made way for the establishment of traditions and rituals that us humans are still so fond of today.
Courtship, even over the last 100 years, has changed so vastly that behaviours which would have been considered scandalous to downright obscene - such as unmarried men and women being alone together - are so commonplace today that it seems laughable to the contemporary Western dating world. Courtship has grown from being a family affair with the express goal of marriage, where first dates were conducted in the parlour of the family home, to today's more casual dinner-and-a-movie format, with future marriage relegated firmly to a list of taboo conversation topics. While cultures differ in their adherence to and maintenance of these old traditions across the globe, Valentine’s Day in the Western world has become an opportunity to woo a new mate or delight an existing one.
The fundamentals of Valentine’s Day appeal to us on the most basic of human levels - the human need for love. We are social creatures, and social creatures that have a psychological need for love and belonging. Affirmation of this love can only be constructive to our self-confidence and rewarding for us and our partners, so it’s only natural that a festival celebrating such has prospered in our increasingly romance-focused society. From the troubadours, poets and bards of history to modern fine dining and luxury weekends away in Paris, Valentine’s Day gives an excuse for lovers everywhere to show each other what they mean to them. In our fast-paced world, excuses such as these should not be taken for granted.
Understand: Each partner in the relationship should play an equal role. There should be a balance in what the two parties contribute to the relationship in order to create a workable status quo. You do not have to contribute the same things; the key is to show that you are putting in as much as you would like to receive in terms of love, support and communication.