10 Ways to Be Awesome on Valentine’s Day

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Well, friends, once again we have reached that special day of the year that we’re either really jazzed about, dreading, or have simply just completely forgotten until reading this post.

Valentine’s Day is a magical day if, like me, you enjoy the color pink and the sudden abundance of cupcakes and candy. Even on the Valentine’s Days of years past when I have had a significant other, my one true love has been, and always will be, copious amounts of sugar.

On Valentine’s Day, the world is divided into two types of people.

There are the single people and the non-single people (and then of course there’s the undefined relationships, which on Valentine’s Day suddenly feels like a very, very confusing time).

Valentine’s Day can be stressful for both types of people, whether you are agonizing over what to buy your sweetheart or what show to pick on Netflix as you sit alone in your pajamas.

Whatever camp you find yourself in this Valentine’s Day, here are 10 ways to make the 24 hours of love a little more awesome:

Call your parents.

Hey, your parents put up with you for a lot of years. They bought you clothes, made sure you didn’t only eat candy for breakfast (despite your best wishes), and kept you company while you were sick (and probably experienced way more vomiting than they actually wanted to). If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is.

Leave a valentine for your next door neighbor.

You don’t even have to sign it! Can you imagine how much it would make your day to find an encouraging note on your door step?

Compliment your server.

Whether you stop by a coffee shop or go out for a romantic dinner, point out something awesome about the person serving you.

Make a donation to a local organization.

Show some love to the animal shelter, YWCA, or an organization that holds a lot of meaning for you.

Pick up litter.

If you’re out and about and see some trash where it shouldn’t be, throw it away! The planet deserves some affection, too.

Make a gratitude list to God.

Gratitude is one of the most beautiful and life-giving forms of worship. When we take a moment to stop and really say thank you for the beauty in our life and what God is doing, we honor the way He loves us.

Make a Love Myself list, to yourself.

Sometimes we get so caught up in everything we think we could be doing better, that we forget to be in awe of just how awesome we are! Make a list of things you love about yourself – traits, dreams, physical aspects, etc.

Text a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.

Let them know you’re thinking about them, and be sure to include a unicorn emoji.

Leave an encouraging comment on someone’s Instagram photo.

A little affirmation is way better than a simple “like.”

Show your health some love.

Go for a quick walk, breathe deeply in and out, or rest your eyes by not looking at your screen for a while. Good health is an amazing gift that is easy to take for granted – enjoy the freedom your well-functioning body provides you every day.

SHARE this post with a friend this Valentine’s Day – and tell them they rock while you’re at it.

A Kiss Is Not A Contract, So You Better DTR

By Amy Juran

In an attempt to stay chill and keep things from getting too serious, we tend to shy away from labelling our relationships.

In reality, having a good DTR (defining the relationship) is incredibly healthy for everyone involved.

There is a natural period of time when we get to know someone and spend time with that person to find out if they are someone we could imagine dating. It can be awkward to finally start that conversation of “So…what are we doing here?”

No one wants to come across as clingy or needy, but it is perfectly natural to desire to know where you stand with another person. Just because you talk, look, and act like you’re dating doesn’t necessarily grant either of you the confidence to feel fully secure.

Here are four benefits that can come with taking the leap and starting the talk:

1.) Impart value on the other person

Putting a label on a relationship is a declaration of how you feel about the other person. When you are willing to make it official, you are placing value on a person that not only builds their confidence but imparts an affectionate commitment. If the other person gets the feeling you are hesitant for whatever reason, it can cause them to wonder if they are doing something wrong. But if you can respect them enough to open up and share your desire to be in a relationship, you are letting this person know you see them as more than a casual “hang out buddy” and as someone you wish to pursue with the integrity of a commitment.

2.) Build your own confidence and self worth

So much of how we view our self worth is derived from how other people treat us, whether we realize it or not. The desire to have clarity regarding your role in someone’s life doesn’t make you overly sensitive; it gives you the confidence to live into that role fully!

When we are unsure of how another person feels about us we tend to approach situations with hesitancy and can internalize our true feelings. But when we know that either yes, this person wants to be committed to me, or no, they only desire a platonic relationship, we have the choice to proceed with assurance or to even distance ourselves from this person.

In trying to show another person we care, it is important we don’t forget our own value. In not wanting to push the conversation because we don’t want to make the other person feel uncomfortable, we cannot diminish the importance of creating for ourselves.

3.) Avoid Confusion

Relationships can be so hard to navigate, even for couples who have been together for years, so it is only natural that newer relationships come with their own type of confusion as they blossom.

If you have been hanging out with someone and aren’t sure whether it’s the right time to have the talk, you can ask yourself, “What is keeping me from wanting to have an open conversation about this?” You might be surprised by the answers that arise. If you aren’t feeling good about the situation for whatever reason, this may be a sign you should rethink being with this person at all. Sometimes avoiding the DTR is a way of avoiding the clear reasons why you shouldn’t be together.

Opening up and seeing where the other person stands is the best way to relieve anxiety or confusion, and to protect yourself from becoming too attached to someone who doesn’t share the same affection.

4.). Establish physical boundaries

The DTR is the perfect time to set physical boundaries. It’s like laying down the ground rules before you start a game! Without the initial check in, it can be easy to think you’re just friends, and it would be weird to bring it up. However, it’s unlikely when you’re in the heat of the moment with the person you’re interested in, you will stop to analyze if your actions are attached to any sort of lasting commitment.  By talking with each other about how intimate you want to be, you can lessen the likelihood of misinterpreted actions and can trust one another to hold to what you mutually decided.  On the flip side, living in ambiguity is the surest way to end up in a situation that you don’t want to be in, so set the boundaries.

Take the leap. Define the relationship. You’ll be glad you did!

Have you ever been in a situation where you wish you had defined the relationship better? 

Stand For Something Or You’ll Fall For Anyone: The Reality of Open Relationships

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You only have to open your Facebook feed to know we are the generation of acceptance and tolerance (as long as someone’s view matches our own), and we pride ourselves in being open-minded.

Many topics our parents and grandparents saw as black and white tend to land somewhere on a grey scale in our current culture. And if we aren’t careful the lines between what is right, and what is accepted as “normal” can get pretty blurry.

Our romantic relationships are just one of the things that have started to lose definition.

There is a hesitancy to put a label on our relationships because it forces us to be vulnerable, requiring a commitment that takes work to honor. This is demonstrated in our culture by the prevalence of open relationships, ambiguous sexual orientation, polyamory, and casual hookups. Eventually I hope to go into more detail on these various topics, but something I’ve been discovering most recently is the basic importance of knowing where you stand and knowing how God feels about it all.

I was shocked to discover the numbers of how many open, or non-monogamous relationships exist in the U.S. Studies are showing that anywhere from 5-9% of people surveyed would admit to having “openness” with their spouses or partners.

Articles on polyamory (being in committed relationships with multiple partners with the consent of each partner) even boast about how much better poly relationships handle communication and jealousy struggles.

Knowing this, I can’t help but fear that we are heading down a road towards no accountability, where we devalue ourselves and God’s word by not honoring each other with the gift of commitment.

Most of the stories I’ve heard from people who are now in some form of open relationship claim they never would have imagined they could be okay with this kind of situation; it took a lot of growing and getting used to.

In life, we don’t always take the time to form an opinion or take a stand on something until it is right there in front of us, and sometimes not until we have met that wonderful person we’re convinced we should be with and they present an unfamiliar situation. And if we look at the culture around us and see what they’re presenting is an accepted practice, and no one is judging and it seems to be working for others, then we can be even more inclined to blur our lines and jump onboard.

If you don’t stand for something, you could fall for anyone.

That’s why it’s so important to know what God had in mind when he made man and woman for each other, not for each other and then some other people at the same time.

Hebrews 13:8 states, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever.” Though we live in an ever-changing culture, God remains constant, as do his desires for relationships and love life. He has also not wavered in His call that we should love one another.

There are so many benefits that come with being in a committed relationship with one person, like learning how to compromise, building trust, and finding contentment. To take a stand and be resolved in our beliefs does not have to make us judgmental or close-minded; rather, it protects us from being swept up by every new wave of thinking that hits our culture.

It diffuses the cloud of confusion that making us question everything.

Knowing God’s truth and taking a stand does not equal an absence of love for others. More important than being tolerant or accepting of every new trend is our call to remain in God’s truth, because He is not swayed, and neither is His desire for our ultimate good.

How social media impacted my relationship (and not in a good way)

Our social media coordinator, Julia, shares how social media impacted the way she viewed her relationship and her struggle to share that part of her life:

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Kids, let me begin by saying that when I started dating my first boyfriend, MySpace was still a thing.

If you aren’t entirely sure what MySpace even is, it’s the Internet’s forgotten playground where many a personalized background and painstakingly selected popular music track have now gone to die along with Tom and his millions of friends.

You know what wasn’t a thing? Instagram, Twitter and Facebook (okay, Facebook was a thing, but as a loyal MySpace user I refused to acknowledge that until circa summer 2009).

In order to let the world know you were in fact dating someone, you could do a couple things:

  1. Update your MySpace profile picture to a picture of you and your honey (“bae” also wasn’t a thing, and in my opinion still shouldn’t be because, really, people?).
  2. Move your honey to the number one or number two spot of your MySpace top eight friends so everyone could know exactly how deeply important that person was in your life (if you were smart, you kept your honey at a solid number two spot behind your best friend).
  3. Walk down the hallways of school holding hands with said honey.

And that was mostly it.

Nowadays there are 402 ways to declare your relationship status to the world:

  1. Update your Facebook relationship status.
  2. Post pictures of you and bae at the baseball game or at your lake cabin or wearing matching pajamas on Facebook.
  3. Post pictures of you and bae at the baseball game or at your lake cabin or wearing matching pajamas on Instagram.
  4. Tweet about the quality time you spent together last weekend. #blessed, #love, #mcm, #wcw, #howdidigetsolucky.
  5. Identify yourself as so-and-so’s boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband in your Twitter bio.
  6. Identify yourself as so-and-so’s boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband in your Instagram bio.
  7. Upload a quick-but-not-so-quick-viewers-won’t-catch-onto-how-cute-you-are video on YouTube of you and bae lip-synching a song together and then post said video to Facebook.
  8. Create a Pinterest board for your upcoming wedding or quotes about romance and go crazy captioning each picture with something along the lines of, “For me and bae!”

And that’s just a few suggestions.

During this past year of dating someone, I became incredibly self-conscious of this widely accepted practice of making a relationship as public as possible. Being someone who is well immersed in social media, I struggled with the very real desire to show the world our life as a couple while knowing the insecurities I faced in doing so.

My biggest fear was posting a picture of my boyfriend and myself and having no one like it. I mean, that feels awful anyway, right? I became really afraid if no one liked the photo or commented about how cute we were together this meant people didn’t like us as a couple in real life. It even came to the point where I spent days trying to decide if I actually wanted to post something or not; I was that afraid of no one responding.

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As someone who works in social media for a living, let me just lay down some knowledge for you real quick:

Social media is all about timing. You could post the same picture twice in one day at two different times on the same medium, but the one posted during high traffic hours is going to get more likes and comments. Similarly, if you post the same picture at the same time but on two different days, such as Wednesday and Thursday, the one you posted on Thursday is going to get the most amount of recognition and likes (because Thursday is the highest traffic day for social media, particularly on Facebook). Also, if you post a photo and use an emoticon in the description, your likes will increase by almost 60%.

Based on this, it would have been pretty easy for me to manipulate a post of my boyfriend and me to ensure a lot of people liked it. But I came to a point where I had to stop myself from doing this because I knew it would be for the wrong reasons.

Social media, in almost all areas of my life actually, has become a form of validation. This became especially true when I had a boyfriend and wanted to join the masses of other couples posting adorable, well-liked pictures of their relationship. I wanted people to see how fun or in love we were, and I wanted these pictures and posts to be popular. Essentially I wanted the opinion of others (which had been reduced to a simple click of the “like” button) to validate the quality of our relationship.

I am not against people posting images of themselves with their significant other. Love deserves to be seen and celebrated. But I think we need to ask ourselves what the motive is behind posts such as these. Do we genuinely want to highlight how important this significant other is to us for the benefit of that significant other? Or, are we enjoying the attention having a relationship brings us and looking for others to take note of that and like it too? Are you in a place where if you uploaded such a picture and received no likes, would you still feel confident and happy about posting it?

These days, our lives play out on social media. Because of this, we give others the power over and over to determine how we feel about our experiences and ourselves. When it comes to showing our relationship to our followers and friends, it’s important to first understand how we feel about it and resist letting others influence our perception through comments and likes. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram should be a means to share your happiness for you, not for the affirmation of others (sorry, MySpace).