The most important message you will read about love (and Valentine's)

So I was walking through Liverpool Street station in London yesterday, and was delighted to see so many images of hearts and messages of love. As a dating coach I was filled with warmth. I am a sucker for positive messages and lovely reminders. And then I remembered - oh, yeah, it’s Valentine’s next month...

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It’s a funny thing. Some people hate Valentine’s. They put it down to a conspiracy to rip customers off. We should celebrate love every day! But we don’t, do we? Others welcome the celebration. They see it as an opportunity to tell people they love how they feel and indulge in feelings of romance. Celebrating love can enhance our sense of wellbeing. It can feel great.

However, I think we make a general assumption that people know that we love them. But what if they actually really don’t know?

This realisation hit me when I was working at Childline not long ago, a place where I volunteer as a counsellor. I had a couple of similar calls. Young people, who had done something quite benign in the grand scheme of things, and who were terrified that their parents would find out and disown them as a result. They were so embarrassed about what they had done. One was considering running away from home. The other felt suicidal. “I am always good and if my parents found out I had done something wrong they would be so disappointed, I can’t bear it”.

It struck me that their parents would be devastated if they knew the anxiety their children were experiencing. That the children thought they would be unloved simply because they had made some forgivable human error. I wondered if these children would have experienced such heightened anxiety had they known they were loved, not only for when they were ‘good’. Had their parents been explicit in showing them and telling them that they love their children dearly no matter what, would the parents have been the first port of call for help, and not Childline?

I wondered then, if this extends to adults. To our partners in particular, with whom we rely on for love and support, and yet whom we might take for granted (that they know how much we really love them). Yes we should celebrate love every day, but if we have forgotten, then let Valentine’s Day be the reminder to ensure that we do. A day to top up that message and reassure those around us that we still love them. You don’t have to spend a fortune, book an expensive restaurant or trip away. Love is shown through thoughtfulness, understanding and care. It might be buying that rose, but it could be something else, just make sure your actions are accompanied with those words.

I love you.

Madeleine Mason Roantree

Dating Psychologist, The Vida Consultancy Ltd

Dating and relationship expert, with an MSc and BSc in psychology, pending counselling psychology doctorate, Cert. in Applied Positive Psychology, plus cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), person-centred and psychodynamic training. Madeleine offers personal coaching and counselling sessions as well as seminars and workshops. Having experience in marriage, divorce, dating and relationships, Madeleine is passionate about helping people to understand their own needs and getting successful results in their personal relationships. She was shortlisted for Dating Expert of the Year 2014 and 2015 at the UK Dating Awards, plus nominated best dating expert in the world at the 2016 iDate awards. She has worked with various publications such as TimeOut, Daily Telegraph, The Independent and continues to blog at LifeLabs. In 2016 she founded the UK Dating Fair, an annual event for singles to get dating advice and meet the best dating experts in the UK, she is open to collaboration and idea exchanges within the helping profession.