coffee kissing

Who’s your Valentine?

With the big V-Day coming up this weekend, a lot of people have love on the mind, or at least, its less heart-swelling sisters, loneliness, rejection, apathy, and fear.

The trouble with jewelry commercials about sparkly romance and Shakespearean stories of undying love, is that it’s easy to forget what we’re really going for.

You can lose real love in the rush of affection and drama. 

As a culture, we often confuse lust for love. But we confuse intimacy for love too. Taking quizzes claiming to be able to make anyone fall in love, when in reality, they’re just building intimacy.

I see this in my work all the time – clients blossom under the light of being witnessed, but can feel confused about what that attention means. Some mistake the full presence of another person for romantic affection.

We’re so starved for closeness – to be truly seen and understood by others – that we grab on to it with both hands, no matter how unintended the message or ill-suited the bearer of the gift actually is.

We build epic tales around being accepted and acknowledged – convincing ourselves that it’s love long after the sheen has worn off.

We forget how to create deep, meaningful relationships throughout our communities, instead relying on one magical unicorn of a person to satisfy all of our needs for connection and caring.

But as important as intimacy is to lasting love, it is not the same thing.

Intimacy gives you closeness, but loving isn’t about you.

Intimacy lets you feel safe. Love is opening your arms to hold another.
Intimacy is feeling understood. Love is bearing witness to another.
Intimacy is being valued even in your failings. Love is accepting another’s imperfections.

The two are forever intertwined, but they are not the same.

Intimacy is a state of being. Love is a state of giving.

So if you’re longing to feel and be more loving in the world, look first to your intimate relationships. Ensure you are full of the joys and peace that come from being intimately held by a close community.

Because from that place of safety, acceptance, and knowing reassurance, you’ll be able to share your loving self with others, and receive their loving selves in return.

Be free. Be brave. Be YOU!