Are you hating Valentine’s Day or loving it? Maybe it doesn’t feel like something to celebrate for you right now? Perhaps you’re single and wondering when you will share in this pleasure, or perhaps you’re in a relationship but feel far from a Valentinesque paradise.

It’s great to have a day that focuses on love and relationships, but I don’t think it’s easy for many people as the focus can be on the ‘in love’ phase of relationship and doesn’t allow for the normal – yes, normal – phases beyond. Trying to recreate the ‘loved up’ or ‘being lost in one another’ phase from the start of a relationship is impossible – sorry to break the bad news if you hadn’t realised this yet. Valentines day can create enormous expectations and a hope that romantic gestures (which can of course be lovely) might be the answer to deeper relationship issues. It’s normal to feel disappointed when the initial ‘in love’ attraction changes, but the good news is that there is more beyond. It is possible to experience a different sense of love, deep feelings of intimacy and sexual connection if you are willing to go on a journey in yourself and with your partner. Along the way it’s natural to struggle with moving into new phases in your relationship alongside evolving individually, although both are essential for a healthy relationship.

So my valentine invitation today is to embrace wherever your relationship is, including the one with yourself. Know that the really tough, painful places that relationships naturally take us, can lead to the possibility of more.  If you feel on the edge of a cliff or on the verge of separating, explore what new phase might be next together if you dare to be really honest, rather than avoiding or delaying conversations assuming it’s the end of the relationship itself. Otherwise, you risk leaving relationships whenever they have the chance to become something richer and better than just ‘being in love’ or limited by your fixed image of what you think a relationship should be. There is most definitely something beyond that’s worth exploring further.