As much as I love love (is it obvious, y’all?), I am not someone who gets super in to Valentine’s day. I mean, we do the cards, flowers, yummy meal thing…but unless it’s a couple trinkets for my daughter, I’m not buying out the dollar section in Target come February.
So when I saw my favorite Peloton instructor, Christine D’Ercole, did a love themed ride on Valentine’s day this year…I maybe rolled my eyes a little. But she promised love songs and thoughts for WHATEVER mood Valentines day puts you in (and HOWEVER you feel about love). I trusted that she wasn’t going to get too cheesy since she usually keeps it pretty real and I finally took the ride last night.
And I’m so glad I did because she opened up about her real life experiences (as she is wont to do) and spoke directly to my own experience of love.
Like so many of us, Christine has had her share of unhealthy relationships. I love that she speaks vulnerably from the other side of her experiences. She discussed the pressure we can feel to please a partner, even trying to change ourselves to become more lovable. She talked about the suffering that often comes in these relationships and how we can become consumed by our relationships as we pressure ourselves to meet our partner’s needs—working, working, working because we want the relationship to work out.
She shared that after a very hard divorce (and some good break up music, let’s be real), she vowed to herself to take a two-year break from “bed people”. She worked on reconnection to herself instead.
Have you been there? My love overhaul happened in college. It wasn’t perfect; there were ups, downs, crying, and lots of avoiding the hard truths…but I got through it. I realized I needed to learn to take care of my own heart. To feed myself my own needs. To let myself have expectations for how others treated me and to get clear on what I was looking for in a partner.
I slowly, surely, stopped thinking love was going to look like a rom com. I slowly, surely learned about boundaries (why I needed them and why others needed them, too). I slowly, surely invested in myself, my friendships, and made peace that taking care of myself was always going to be more important than making sure I didn’t end up alone.
And OF COURSE, I still longed for a partner. We’re wired this way. I just knew I wanted to take these slower, to let myself connect with someone’s whole self and tune in to whether they were a good partner to me—instead of an old habit of falling in love with love and then trying to shape myself or my partner into something neither of us were.
Towards the end of the ride, Christine shares that she loves herself and she finally found a healthy relationship in her current partner. Someone who doesn’t remember every single romantic memory they’ve had, who doesn’t swoon to lyrics of every love song, who doesn’t check every box of what romance is “supposed” to look like…but who instead does little things like make sure her alarm clock is set, and big things like, you know, respect her and love her as she is.
“If your relationship is a mountain,” she says towards the end of the ride, “I’m sorry, but I want you to hear this, if your relationship is the mountain…mountains should be things like COVID, things like Cancer, things like just the awful things that can face us. Your relationship should not be the mountain. Your relationship should be the car that helps you get up the mountains in life.”
Yes, oh, yes. Those words were all the romance I needed this Valentine’s Day.
I got off my bike, and went to hug my husband.
“I’m so glad you got a ride in,” he said. “Why don’t you take a bath and relax, if you want? I know you had a crazy week.” And there he was, our love helping me continue to trek up the mountains in life.
Do you want support either within your current relationship…or recovering from one? We all long for that secure loving feeling of a happy, healthy connection. Our therapists at Love Heal Grow are here to support you—don’t hesitate to reach out.
Hi! I'm Megan Negendank, founder and executive director of Love Heal Grow Counseling.
I help hurting, worried couples & individuals heal from pain and create thriving lives & relationships.
You can read more about me or schedule an appointment here: About Megan