“Ode to Valentine’s Day: Love First. Love Well. Love Often.”

NOTE: This is an article I wrote for Our Voices Magazine that I thought I’d share with you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


“Ode to Valentine’s Day: Love First. Love Well. Love Often.”
By Udana Power

Men don’t like Valentine’s Day. Did you know that?

And many times Valentine’s Day turns out traumatic for women… kind of because men hate it, get really confused and feel guilty because they are not sure how to do it right. So then they don’t do Valentine’s Day at all – or if they get grumpy – which annoys the woman, it can add enough strain to make the whole thing go south, even if you are both pretending to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a proper dinner. Arg!

I took a whole series of seminars from an amazing woman who teaches women and men how to understand and be happy with each other. It was one of the first things I treated myself to when I started making some money. I had to figure this guy-thing out.

Amongst the series of weekend lectures that I was ultimately happy to spend a ton of money for, I was SHOCKED to learn two things. Literally knock-me-over-with-a-feather shocked. Actually, the whole room of women I was with gasped when the trainer told us what I’m about to tell you.

At the time she made her statement, there was a group of men standing on the stage in front of us sharing their points of view with the room. (I thought I was listening to a foreign language being explained.) When the trainer spoke this pressing truth, the audience of women gasped with incredulity and the men stared in surprise. The statement was so obvious to them that they were baffled why we were so shocked.

What does all this have to do with Valentine’s Day? Everything. You’ll see.

Here is an approximation of what she said: Girls, put down your pen and paper. Sit there because I want you to get this. I have interviewed men for years to find out how they feel and think about women – what they like, what they don’t like. I dedicated myself to finding how to find a wonderful man and then create a wonderful relationship. I did that for myself and I am now sharing the things I learned with other women. In my years of asking men what they REALLY think, here’s what every man will tell you all the time, bottom line: Men LOVE women. Period. All men love women.

The audience of women was dumbfounded. Literally. We were stunned mute. The guys stood on stage in front of us nodding their heads, wondering why we didn’t know that. Their world revolves around women from puberty on. Everything they do is to make a woman happy, even though it may not appear obvious. (Yes, I agree, men are not very obvious about that.) Men take commitment very seriously. Once he decides that “she’s the one”, he’s all in for the whole kit-and-caboodle. He won’t marry a woman with the thought that he’s going to change her later. Only women do that. He’s taking his woman just like she is. Simple.

A man’s world shines when he sees that he’s making his woman happy. And it’s really difficult for a man when his women is not happy.

Hmmmm… so what does that have to do with Valentine’s Day? Why would men be so traumatized by Valentine’s Day? Can’t they just go buy us some flowers? Some candy? Can’t they get their imagination up and take us away for a weekend or do something special? Why can’t they purchase a gift that we will LOVE?

Because that’s really hard for a guy. Here’s why:

A guy thinks like a laser beam. He does not notice all the little things that women notice. Men are hunters…. they have to focus on their hunt so that they can bring home the deer so the family can eat. Men have to provide. That’s a man’s identity: Provider. They are built to zero in on bagging that game. We women are out gathering nuts and flowers, admiring the landscape, watching over the kids and multi-tasking like crazy. The guy is only looking to see if something is moving in the bushes that he can catch for dinner. When a man is working, he tends to forget everything else but what is directly in front of him.

If he remembers, ‘Uh oh… Valentine’s Day is coming up… what do I get her?’ He DOESN’T KNOW. Truly. He’s like a deer in headlights. How is he supposed to know what you want? He’s been out on the hunt. He didn’t notice flowers on the next ridge over.

There is a solution. Men like this suggestion. If you have a wonderful man in your life who wants to make you happy. Try this:

#1) First: Get happy. Just be happy with him. Honor who he is and admire things that he does well. I love telling the man in my life that he just makes me happy. It’s pretty simple. He makes me grin and giggle. He makes me feel happy. I don’t get gooey and complicate it with, “I love you” which invariable makes a guy feel like he’s got to say, “I love you” back and more yaddah yaddah. There is no negotiating about happy. Happy is my big reward for spending time with him. I don’t try to explain why I’m happy… Just being happy is enough to start a whole lot of wonderful energy happening. And, FYI, he’s not “perfect.” Not by a long shot… and he doesn’t have to be perfect to make me feel happy.

#2) Remind him that Valentine’s Day is coming up and that if he feels like giving you a gift, you’ve put a little list together of things that you would REALLY like. (Hint: They don’t have to be expensive or complicated…. A rose, some marzipan, a picnic together somewhere, a movie, a new lamp…whatever.) This will give him a lot of relief…. because as he looks out in that vast wilderness around him for what to get you, he’ll have a clue of what to aim for. Again… he really just wants the woman in his life to be happy. You are giving him a not-so-subtle hint what will take you from happy to happier.

#3) Stay happy. Just be content with who you are in your life and what you’re doing. (That always makes you fascinating to a man.) You might have to remind your guy again that Valentine’s Day is coming. It’s okay. Men forget all these things when they are working. Do NOT guilt him. Not even a trace. If you find yourself starting to run a guilt trip on your guy, then call a girlfriend. DON’T tell him you have to have a discussion about your “relationship.” Yikes!! NO! Just enjoy your life. Let him know he makes you happy and that anything on this short list of things that he might like to get for you would delight you even more.

#4) Clue: if your guy does NOT make you happy, then why are you with him? You might want to wonder what that’s about. Do you need to take a bit of your life back? Not be needy? Create a full and rich life for yourself that you share with him, rather than give to him (and then be pissed off when he doesn’t give you back all the attention you think you so richly deserve.) Why not just get happy doing something you like to do? Kayaking? Gardening? Dancing? Whatever. There is no one in your whole life who is responsible for all your happiness except you – especially not one poor guy. However, the kind of happiness you can find with a man is like the sun rising – it makes the cold and dark vanish.

#5) What if he still forgets Valentine’s Day? Well… that may mean that you remember Valentine’s Day for your SELF. Do something that makes YOU happy. My spiritual teacher once said that we have to learn to love ourselves first. When we can thoroughly love ourselves, then that love will start overflowing and we will have all kinds of love to share. If we don’t love ourselves, then we won’t have any love to share.

Over the many years that I have lived, I have learned one thing… Love DOES heal everything. We are all going to be hurt. We are all going to have stuff happen in life. We cannot live life’s great adventures and stay pristine like a fragile porcelain figurine sitting on a top shelf collecting dust. At the end of our lives the only thing that will matter is if we truly lived. People will disappoint us. We will disappoint ourselves. That’s good news. That means we’re alive. If we are growing and experimenting with life, then we are definitely going to make lots of mistakes. So what? Love is the healer. Love is the unifier. Love is the peace that brings it all together again.

Don’t bother trying to not get hurt in life. Learn the art of loving.

Ghandi said: “Become the change that you want to see in the world.”

Osho said: “Become the loving and don’t get stuck on particulars.”

Rumi said: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Let loving start with YOU. Someone has to go first. You can’t negotiate love. Love just is. It is the fountain of youth. The fountain of healing. The Law of Blooming. It is what holds the planets in orbit and that to which we surrender in our highest moments.

The second thing I learned about men – that I almost forgot to tell you – is another gem that rocked my world. Women always want to know what men find most attractive in a woman. Is it boobs? Legs? Her outfit? Her makeup? Being skinny? Nope. None of that. The guys on stage said that even though all those things count… what they are really attracted to is a woman’s confidence. Wow!

Here’s the catch: most women are notorious for low self esteem and lack of self-confidence. How do you get confidence if you don’t have much confidence and feel like in order to get confidence someone else has to approve of you? That’s a total conundrum (a dog-chasing-its-tail kind of thing.) Exhausting. I have seen many women ask permission to share their own opinion.

The answer is: Love your SELF. Unconditionally. And celebrate all your mistakes.

Love is courageous. The French word for heart is “coeur”… which is the root word for Courage. Courage is of the heart. It takes courage to love first. And in our culture it’s truly radical to even contemplate loving yourself first. How dare you?! Even so, once you think it through it becomes the obvious thing to do.

Let this Valentine’s Day fill you with the courage to become the love you seek. Let love fill you with the confidence to know that you are a source of happiness and can share happiness with all around you. Remember: a guy just wants to see you happy. If you are happy even if he’s hasn’t done anything to make you happy… then he’s going to get very curious and find you very attractive. It’s intriguing for a man to see a happy woman who doesn’t cling.

And if there is no man in your life right now, be happy anyway. Why not? It’s fun and very attractive.

Be the love you want to experience in the world – then watch the miracle unfold.

Love first. Love well. Love often.

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