Love and Sex

3 Ways to Really Invest In Your Relationship This Valentine’s Day & All Year Long

Welcome to Better Sex With Dr. Lexx, a monthly column in which Dr. Lexx Brown-James, a sex therapist, educator, and consultant, provides her knowledge, insight, and wisdom on sex, relationships, and other topics. Dr. Lexx (also known as The #CouplesClinician) is your guide to the shame-free, medically correct, inclusive, and thorough talks for you, your partner, and your entire family. She approaches sex education as a life-long activity — “from womb to tomb.”

On Valentine’s Day, Michael Douglas is bursting with “always & forever” love for Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Lovers, End of January here. This indicates that the glitzy, exhilarating enthusiasm of the new year has subsided and that Valentine’s Day decorations have begun to appear in all the stores. There is a lot of pressure to be in love, or at least behave that way, by purchasing valentines, sweets, flowers, and plush animals. For the purpose of the eagerly anticipated “Love Holiday,” couples around the nation are stressing over gifts, raising hopes for romantic proposals, and even putting off splitting up.

Aside from the pressure to perform love and put it on show for others to see, the worst part of the commercialization of love is the anticipated re-ignition of intimacy, which, alas, doesn’t always happen. I wish for genuine intimacy to be established, sustained, and preserved between all partners.

As a clinician who has worked with lovers for more than ten years, I want to highlight three important ways that I have seen couples develop real, enduring connection. Unsurprisingly, these techniques don’t resemble the traditional commercial Valentine’s Day romance. Therefore, think of this as a loving “anti-Day” Valentine’s strategy for enhancing your relationship.

Take chances with each other.

Risk-taking can be as big as skydiving together or as quiet as discussing previously private matters while cuddling on the bed. When you show your true inner self to someone, you are implicitly asking, “Will you still love me?” A loud “Yes, and can I share this with you?” in response to that inquiry fosters intimacy and long-lasting trust.

I’m sure you’re wondering what would happen if the response was “no” or if the share was treated with scorn. Keep in mind that not all private issues require resolution and that some may require healing. Remember that rejection is a means for someone to set a boundary for themselves. This is the hardest part. This indicates that they are aware that they cannot adequately support or legitimize you. Although this is crucial knowledge, it does not necessarily imply that they will reject you or stop loving you. It implies that they might not be the best match for this aspect of you. Even this difficult learning fosters intimacy because you are both discovering aspects of one another that are unknown to others.

“Remember that setting a barrier for yourself through rejection is a method someone does it.”

Practice being vulnerable

Being vulnerable in practice often sounds very ethereal. Like it’s a fake thing or a magic key that you have to defeat the most bad guy to get. Yes, it is possible to feel that way. In our society, “being strong” is sometimes defined as not raising a fuss when we are hurt, outraged, or wronged. It frequently also entails putting on a brave face while we are in pain. Practice vulnerability with your partner rather than “being strong.” Tell them the truth about what’s going on behind the wall. Are you feeling frightened, worn out, powerless, desperate, or grateful because you didn’t know how to ask for assistance? You are demonstrating your humanity to your lover by explaining the emotions underlying the presentation, letting them know you are fallible and that you do require (and cherish) their support. This strengthens your relationship’s endurance and sense of sympathy for one another.

Putting Limits On

I’m aware that this almost comes off as anti-intimacy. There is a perception that there must be no boundaries between you in order to be really committed with someone. that, in a sense, you all merge into one body. Although it is a common misconception, we refer to this in therapy as enmeshment. Enmeshment occurs when at least two individuals lose their uniqueness, capacity for autonomous thought, and even functioning. Most likely, you have seen this behavior. A pair cannot operate without one another at events, one person cannot make everyday decisions without the other’s input, and even in situations when only one person was involved, one person’s feelings are shared by the other. The clinical term for co-dependency is “enmeshment,” but let’s avoid using the buzzword for the time being.

By setting boundaries, you are telling your partner that you want to be close to them and that you need them to act differently. It also tells us something about them when we set those boundaries. Either they hear the message and make the necessary adjustments to be near and personal, or they reject it and distance develops. Boundaries must be acknowledged, upheld, and recognized in order for closeness to be created and maintained.

So, instead of just giving out candy, cologne, lingerie, and steamy sex this Valentine’s Day, how about trying some other strategies that will make your relationship last?

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