Valentine’s Day Survival Guide 2024

Valentine’s Day Survival Guide 2024

Happy Valentine’s Day mes chéries!

I’m not going to lie… I think last year’s survival guide was probably the best Valentine’s post I’ve ever written. I even debated ending my survival guides on that note and not continuing these. But since then, I’ve been in a year long relationship (first serious one since 2014). I’ve learned quite a lot about how I love, and how to love. I’ve dissected my triggers and traumas extensively to ensure I don’t punish my partner for previous people’s mistakes. I’ve even surprised myself here and there as people bring different sides out in each other. So instead, let’s turn a new page in the survival guide series.

Since last year’s survival guide focused on preparing yourself for a healthy and stable relationship, this year’s survival guide focuses on maintaining that healthy and stable relationship. It’s actually a lot simpler than you think…

1. Understanding

The key to a lasting partnership isn’t just communication; it is understanding. You can communicate all you want back and forth, but if the result isn’t both parties fully understanding the other person then it’s wasted breath. Whenever there is a disagreement, you have to not only understand your partner’s perspective but also understand what is it about their thought process that brought them to this disagreement or level of emotion. If you can comprehend how a person operates and thinks, what makes them tick, what needs they have, what behavior can trigger past traumas, and how they process emotions, then you can easily avoid major conflicts and mutual hurt. The next time you have a disagreement, don’t just prepare what you want to say back to them when they’re talking. Stop and tune into the words they’re saying. Say to them “Help me understand why my action triggered this response so I can understand what went wrong and avoid doing so in the future.”

It is normal for a person to feel misunderstood. There are billions of us roaming this rotating rock. Everyone is wired differently. That is why it is rare to find someone who makes you feel seen, heard, and understood. If you truly understand someone, you’ll be able to be in sync with them all the time. You’ll be able to know what they’re thinking when you look at their facial expressions and body language. You’ll even be able to anticipate their needs before they realize they need it. Best of all, you’ll be able to grow your love for each other in a deeply profound way that is uniquely yours.

2. Serenity

I’m certainly repeating myself with this point, and I don’t care: true love is not an overwhelming feeling. It’s not this rush of intense emotion all the time. You shouldn’t feel like your love for someone is consuming your being. This kind of emotion is not sustainable. It’s a high, and like any high there is a low to counter it so you balance to neutral. Even if there is nothing actually wrong in your relationship, if you constantly seek these feverish emotions you will always feel a steep decline or a sense of boredom and staleness after because your emotions and energy have to balance out to a neutral level somehow.

True love is a serene feeling every day. It’s a peaceful within that sits comfortably and quietly. It doesn’t give you anxious butterflies. It doesn’t take over your entire mind or suck up all your focus. It gives you a warm embrace and allows you to be an individual when you are apart. Your brain should be able to focus on your work, your studies, your hobbies, your fitness, your health, your friends, your family, and literally anything else. The right partner wants you to nourish all the components that make you YOU. These components make up the person they love. These components contribute to the partnership. The right partner wouldn’t cause you any sort of stress or distraction when you’re apart so that you can fully focus on growing yourself.

3. Choice

Don’t be afraid of breaking up or divorce.

Whether you believe there is 1 person made for you or multiple soulmates you can choose from (or be with depending on the point you’re at in your life journey), being in a partnership with somebody is a choice. It is not natural for two creatures to mate forever never mind human beings! We all grow at different paces and through phases. Do you know how insanely rare it is to find someone who can both grow at similar speed or be compatible with you through out all those chapters?

All interpersonal relationships take a f*ckload of work whether it’s a romantic partner, friendships, familial ties, or even coworkers. There is no cheat code. You can’t use time knowing/spent with someone or blood relations to cut corners in building out your relationship with people. No matter who they are, you have to choose to nourish that connection. The only way is through effort and reciprocation. Most importantly, it has to be a healthy mix of sacrifice, compromise, and getting what you want.

You need to wake up every day and ask yourself if you are still happy, growing, and benefitting from your relationship. If you part ways at any point, that’s not to say that you can’t grow apart and find each other way later in life and be compatible again. It’s just that you’ve outgrown each other at this current stage in life, and this particular dynamic has expired. Don’t be afraid to move on. It’s not starting over, it’s just leveling up in the game of life.

4. 2 + 2 = 5

I don’t ever want to hear anyone I care about say “I want to find my other half” or “You complete me.”

NO.

Saying you’re a half implies that you’ve been broken into two parts and have to chase the other part down to feel whole. You are already whole. If you don’t feel like you’re complete, you need to reflect on why that is and focus on learning about yourself. After all, how can you expect anyone to understand you or know how to love you if you don’t even know those answers yourself, right?

You and your partner should be two well-rounded wholes coming together to form a unit. If paired properly, your unit will not only boost both of you but also give you power as a unit, hence 2 + 2 = 5. I’m sure you’re all sick and tired of Tayvis, but they are truly mesmerizing the world because they embody this behavior: Taylor and Travis are each entirely their own beings with her own lives and successes. But when they are together, they create this powerful storm and radiate in every endeavor both separately and together. They not only allow each other to be fully themselves but do not expect them to change because they understand each other and love each other for exactly who each other is. It’s why they don’t shy away from interview questions or paparazzi frenzies. They bring out the best versions (or at least the happiest versions) of each other as they do life happily and welcome anyone who wants to share their joy.

5. Needs vs. Desires

I was the queen of checklists. Even one night stands (sorry mom, scroll away) had to meet certain requirements. I thought that by setting these “standards” I was ensuring that I would only be surrounded by people of a certain caliber and mental level.

Making checklists is not a bad thing. It’s good to know what you want and manifest a partner that matches that. However, there’s a big difference between what you want and what you need. You can want a 6’3″ muscular rich Ivy League man, but do you really want him if you constantly feel like you’re missing something? Now you can tell yourself you deserve one all day. I agree, you probably do! But the résumé and bank account aren’t going to be a real support system for you when sh*t hits all your ceiling fans. The money might be problem solver, but you won’t be able to emotionally heal because this person was never able to satisfy what you need in life and in romance.

Stop chasing ornamental traits. Ask yourself how they makes you feel, what version of you they bring out, what positive elements they bring into your life. Most importantly, know what your dealbreakers are. Many couples have opposing viewpoints on things and can still raise a family and be lifelong companions with each other. If there are some values you simply cannot compromise on, do not over look them.

“But but but he’s so accomplished in life!”

“But but but he’s so generous!”

“But but but everything else is so perfect, and we’re so in love!”

Sure. Continue if you want, but if you recall I said relationships take work. At some point loving someone is not enough and the work is just too much. Most people cannot hide forever. Believe them when they show you who they are. Doesn’t matter if you “know” that they’re just acting a type of way because of whatever XYZ reason an excuse them for it because you can explain it. If they show you a reason they’re not the best fit for you, believe it until you see something different from them.

No matter where you are in your love story or quest for love, remember that everything you go through is necessary for learning who you are. Whether you wish to be in a partnership or stay single, don’t forget to love yourself the most and properly love those who love and support you along the way. Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

 

 

(P.S. Remember that photo I talked about in the closing of my last Valentine’s Day post? It’s the featured photo up top!)

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Erica Huang
Erica Huang

Based in New York City, Erica Huang is the creator and voice behind Bouge & Rouge. This blog is a playground of her thoughts where she invites you to join her on her journey through her 20s. Erica shares her lifestyle, fashion and beauty tips, adventures, and personal thoughts with the goal of inspiring others to always persevere and be unapologetically yourself.

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