What better way than Valentine’s Day to show how much you love your partner, right? Stores have specific aisles with beautiful colors that are sure to catch your eyes. You may find yourself looking at all of the chocolates, stuffed animals,  cards, heart shape balloons, and heart shape everything that you lose track of time  daydreaming about  what your partner will do for you, or what you will do for them on Valentine’s Day. Let’s not forget all the fresh beautiful flower arrangements and bouquets.

But what I want you to focus on is much more than the eye meets, more than the bells and whistles that Valentine’s Day brings. Showing love for your partner should be something we do every single day, totally free of charge.

Showing love for a partner could be as simple as showing kindness by being empathetic to one another or simply providing comfort and support when your partner needs it. Healthy relationships should also move at a comfortable pace; where you are not being rushed or pressured in any way that makes you feel overwhelmed. You should be able to be your authentic self in and outside of the relationship by continuing to do your hobbies, hanging out with friends, and family members. Your partner allows you that independence as both of you should have that same freedom.

Safe, loving relationships show respect and value each other’s beliefs and opinions. You can set boundaries and be confident that the other person will respect them. There is balance in the relationship as both parties are putting in the same effort into the relationship. There is also equality and respect for your needs, wishes, and desires. Sometimes one person may put in more time, money or emotional support than the other and vice versa, but the outcome feels equitable.

Relationships are not all rainbows and unicorns all the time. Conflict is normal, there will be disagreements along the way, and that is perfectly ok! Heathy relationships should approach conflict or disagreements in a respectful way and by being non-judgmental.  Both parties should feel safe to talk and express how they are feeling without the fear of the other person’s reaction. Yelling or belittling should not take place during a conflict.

I hope that you love yourself enough to understand what true love should look like and not settle for less than what you deserved. Remember healthy love can’t be store bought!

-Estefania Barrientos