There used to be a dreaded moment every year, when I’d tear off the page of my inspirational desk calendar to reveal the month of February. Don’t get me wrong, February can be an awesome time of the year. After all, it’s when we celebrate Black History Month and when we honor two of the founding fathers of our nation on President’s Day. While that’s kind of a big deal, for years I struggled with a particular date in the middle of the month, when everyone else around me seemed excited about Valentine’s Day. They were buying gifts, exchanging sappy Hallmark cards, and preparing for an evening with that special someone —complete with dinner, flowers and chocolates — all supposedly leading to a phenomenal night of hot romance.
Talk about pressure! If I had someone special in my life at the time, I had to be sure to plan carefully so that I could increase my chances of experiencing the kind of romantic evening that the greeting card companies promised me I deserved. And, if I wasn’t in a relationship with the love of my life, the fact that there would be no gifts or cards waiting for me seemed like an announcement to the world that I was a hopeless loser. Deep in my heart, I knew I was anything but that.
A few lonely holidays got me pondering about the most important relationships in my life. After a lot of contemplation, I realized there were really three critical relationships to pay attention to: my relationship with myself; the relationship I share with those I love; and my relationship with my work. That epiphany changed my life and it might just make a difference in yours too. Since the big “V Day” is looming, I’d like to discuss the first two relationships because they are so critical to making love last.
Learning to Know Yourself
With all of the emphasis on having a date for Valentine’s Day, I realized that the one person I could always count on for company was myself. I actually enjoyed time with my own thoughts and hobbies, so I learned to use that time to better understand myself. Just what were my passions, I asked myself? How did I want to express them in my life and my relationships? And what kind of person (from a passion perspective) would make an ideal mate for me? Back then, I hadn’t yet conceived the idea of passion archetypes, but what a huge help they would have been on my journey to learning who I was!
Later, my research helped me gain insight into the 10 Passion Archetypes operating in all of us. They are: Creator, Conceiver, Discoverer, Processor, Teacher, Connector, Altruist, Healer, Transformer and Builder. Discovering which are your top three passions and learning about their strengths and vulnerabilities is where you gain the greatest awareness about your “passionality” and the deepest appreciation for the environments, people and situations that can best contribute to your happiness. It’s some of the most important knowledge you can have about yourself, especially if you want to have a successful relationship with someone else.
Now that I know I’m a Builder/Transformer/Healer, I better appreciate what I can bring to the party and what I need from another in a romantic relationship. My Builder passion makes me a goal seeker, with the (sometimes relentless) drive to achieve what can seem to others to be the impossible. Likewise, I enjoy and thrive in change because of my Transformer passion. When others crave stability, I’m busy thinking about how to stir things up, especially if they seem too status quo for me. I’m not happy when I’m required to do things the same way day in and day out. I need to keep life edgy and interesting, or I get bored, and that’s usually when I get myself into trouble by trying to change something that should be left alone. Not every simmering pot needs to be stirred, I’ve learned.
My Healer passion has been both my greatest gift and my biggest Achilles’ heel, especially in love matters. The Healer in me makes me deeply empathetic and strongly motivated to shepherd others through their own pain and difficulties. If I’m not vigilant about managing the vulnerability of my passion, I can easily take on someone else’s problems as my own and run myself ragged trying to resolve them. Because I’m a Healer, I can be more susceptible to collecting people who seem to need “fixing”, thus setting myself up for a long slog through their emotional challenges, with little attention being paid to my own needs. Healer is a wonderful passion, but left unchecked, it can be a recipe for burnout. Time alone allowed me to realize that developing mastery over both my passion strengths and vulnerabilities was key to me being the best person possible for someone else. And why? Because I would then be operating as my best self, and there is no more attractive aphrodisiac than that.
Being In Relationship
As I began working with the passion archetypes, I developed a deeper appreciation for how crucial it is to understand the passions of someone with whom you’re romantically involved. Not that knowing another’s passions isn’t important in every relationship you have, but being in a romance ratchets up the stakes in a big way. After all, this could be the person that you potentially choose to spend your life with, so understanding all of their nuances could make the difference between a relationship that thrives and one that fails. Wouldn’t it be great if all first dates included a pre-screening for passion archetypes? Then at least you’d know more about what you’re really getting into and you’d have a language to help the other person learn about you. Plus, it would eliminate all of that awkward searching around for something to say at dinner between the appetizer and main course!
So, if you have an important date on February 14th, and especially if you don’t, I’ve put together a list of the passion archetypes and what they most need from a romantic partner. This may be the most valuable gift that cupid could ever deliver. Happy Valentine’s Day!