Psychology Today

By Nicklas Balboa & Richard D. Glaser, PhD
Published in: Psychology Today

5 tips for connecting with your loved ones on Valentine’s Day.

Even though it is Aquarius Season, people of all astrological signs will celebrate the "Day of Love and Friendship" with rituals of romance and appreciation. Rather than pining about lost love or fretting about love that could be, Valentine's Day is about showing appreciation for the love that we have. The word Valentine stems from the Latin word valens, which means "strong and healthy." In honor of this cultured and celebrated day, here are five Conversational Intelligence® (C-IQ) tips that will keep your conversations with loved ones strong and healthy.

1. Don’t expect a Disney movie: Expectations can leave us feeling stuck, frustrated, and angry when they aren’t met. By appreciating what your partner offers and showing gratitude, we can connect on a personal level instead of protecting our ideals. 

2. Prioritize emotions: We tend to focus on sharing and persuading in everyday conversations (Level 1 & 2 conversations). However, on this special day, it is critical to focus on the energy shared between us and our partners. Our social emotions are built on individual experiences, thus our capacity to connect is dependent on sympathy, or when we show that we care about how others feel. By opening our conversations with sympathy, we can strengthen our resilience to social isolation and related stress, which promotes the positive activity of our social engagement systems (eye gaze, prosody, listening, etc). Once these vital systems are online, we begin to sync with one another and can truly empathize with our partner and physically share the same feelings. This deep connection opens the doors to compassion, linking our sympathetic intentions to our impact, showing that we can connect with and support one another through trust. 

3. Serve and return: Whether you are going out for dinner and drinks or just spending quality time with that special someone, remember to ask questions as much as you talk. Conversations serve as a regulative process between partners, where we constantly react to our partner’s changing neurochemistry, behaviors, and feelings. There is nothing more frustrating than being in a conversation with someone who is stuck in monologue mode, so keep the rants to a minimum and ask questions to ensure a healthy dialogue. 

4. No lip service: Be yourself. While consenting your words can get you what you want, dissenting your heart will never get you what you need. 

5. Share secrets: If sharing is brain candy, then secrets are the Hershey's Kisses. Sharing secrets builds trust and can “charge” a moment emotionally, making for memorable conversations. Ask questions that you don’t have the answers to in order to bring out your partner’s hidden desires. 

Remember, our conversations serve as platforms for sharing our innermost feelings and thoughts. This shared language is what allows us to partner, navigate, and grow together as humans. All it takes is one comment to send a loved one into a "feel good" or "feel bad" state of mind. So ask yourself, what am I doing to boost my conversations in healthy ways? 

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