This time of year, when roses are marked up 7,000 percent, Hello Kittys with giant "I Love You"-embroidered hearts are jockeying for prime "impulse buy" position at Duane Reade, and Whitman's Samplers are pouring off of the shelves at Walgreen's, it's worth taking some time to consider where you are in this strange, beautiful, and yes, at times, tragic world of love.
Whether or not you happen to be in love right now, consider, for just a moment, what love means to you.
Love, is fundamentally, intrinsically, and indubitably not a spectator sport. It is not possible to love someone "in theory." You might admire someone, or even lust after them, but admiration and lust are not love, which brings me to my central point in this blog -- love is not a four letter word. It is a six-letter word: ACTION.
Love without action is no love at all.
In his bestselling relationship book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey writes that men and women often express their love in different ways (see Chapter 2, entitled, "Our Love isn't Like Your Love"). The question is: How you can translate your love into action so that your partner can feel what you're trying to express?
Every relationship is unique, and people express love in all sorts of ways. Some people show love by doing things, others by saying things, still others by giving gifts or food. I once had a patient who, a few months into his relationship, began taking his girlfriend camping because that was how his parents made him feel special when he was a boy. Unbeknownst to my patient, his girlfriend hated camping, though she didn't say anything until it was almost too late. In fact, they were in the middle of an argument and on the verge of breaking up when she asked him in frustration, "Why do you keep taking me camping?" to which he fortunately responded, "Because I love you."
This was the first time he actually said the words, "I love you," to her. From that moment on, everything in their relationship changed (including the fact that they stopped going camping). It's essential to consider that when you act out of love, your partner may not understand that at all.
So, whether you are "hooking up," breaking up, enthralled, betrothed, honeymooning, straying, mourning, or just "status quo-ing," take some time to think about how you want to express your love and how you want love to be expressed to you. The choices you make can make all the difference.
Dr. Ben Michaelis is a clinical psychologist in full-time private practice in Manhattan. Dr. Michaelis writes and speaks regularly about mental health, creativity, spirituality and motivation. He is the author of numerous popular and scholarly articles and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Dr. Michaelis is a frequent guest on nationally syndicated TV shows such as, NBC's The Today Show, The Hallmark Channel's Home & Family, and MSNBC's Your Business. Dr. Michaelis is the author of Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy.