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Be in partnership that boosts your development
Sanda Stanković Psychologist at Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy
Be in partnership that boosts your development
February 14th is coming near, the date which is popularly marked as Valentine’s Day. The name is seductive and radiant. Undoubtedly, some couples are going to dress up and go to their favourite restaurant or for a romantic trip, exchange beautiful gifts, have passionate sex, or maybe say they love each other for the first time. They are going to remember how much they enjoy each other, talk about the shared past and future, feel close. Others will go out for a dinner and try to convince themselves and their partners that they are fine, although they are not. They will be bored, they will think about their lovers, their jobs, they will lie they are too tired for sex or they will quarrel as they did so many times before.

Some people who are not in an emotional relationship will go out and have a good fun, while some will treat themselves for plucking up the courage to break a bad relationship or for feeling happy alone. Others will stay at home thinking that they will never find someone, pining for their ex-partners and reconsidering their past decisions.

Many will feel lonely and suppressed on Valentine’s Day. They will feel unloved and therefore less worth than other people, even pathetic and useless, unworthy of love. They will believe something is wrong with them. They will be ashamed and angry with themselves. These feelings are not necessarily associated with whether a person has an emotional partner or not, but with whether that person equates acceptance, love and attention by another person with his/her own worthiness and happiness. If I am loved, I am worthy. If I am not, something must be wrong with me. I’m a failure. I will never be happy. I cannot stand being alone. I need to have someone. It is terrible if my partner does not love me. Such thoughts are followed by comparisons with other people in our idealised version of their lives: others are more loved because they are more attractive, more charming and more capable than I am; other couples are happier and more harmonious.

Valentine’s Day makes fertile ground for emergence of such beliefs, largely due to having an element of public and visible, for representing a certain kind of a stage. On this day, we show and prove to others and to ourselves we are happy as a couple. By this we meet an important social expectation and this is a measure of our success. On this day, it is more visible if we are unloved and alone, and therefore unsuccessful and inadequate – if not to others, then certainly to ourselves.

Glorification of love today often boils down to glorification of the form of partnership itself, and is predominantly based on unrealistic conceptions of being in love, of love and emotional relationships. In the real world, partnership relations are complicated and complex with a potential to upgrade or degrade our mental health. They can heal us, help us love ourselves more, but they can also wound us and humiliate us. Being in an emotional relationship and working on a partnership relation can sometimes be something that improves our psychological development and contributes to our happiness, while sometimes it can be the very breaking up or a decision not to enter a relationship. Partnership relationships or being without a partner are no guarantee of happiness or unhappiness or a measure of success or failure.
Sanda Stanković
Psychologist at Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy