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By Hannah Connolly
alentine's Day might have been and gone but we’ve still got love on our minds. In fact, a Bell Hooks quote stood out to us particularly this week: “One of the best guides on how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others.”
Love or loathe the day of roses and romance, underneath it all there is a stand-out truth: in order to love well, the real relationship that matters is the one that you have with yourself.
This is the theme of the upcoming installment of our Stack Conversations series: happening next week. In the Fear Of Love Panel we will be diving into the big picture of love and romance. From our relationships with intimacy to making connections with others, we’re taking a deep dive into what love and relationships actually look like in 2023.
Be it your relationship with romantic partners or, some of the greatest loves in our lives, the ones with our friends and family: how we approach connections begins within ourselves.
This story is part of Issue 6 of The Stack World's weekly newsletter The Superconnector. Subscribe here to read more of our recomendations, advice and how-to's to connect more deeply with your community...
Where to go
**“Love yourself first and everything else falls into place. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball **
Fear of Love Panel: Headed up by writer, founder, and broadcaster Emma Louise Boynton, this panel talk is diving into our relationships with love itself. “Perennially fascinated by topics deemed taboo”, Emma is the host of the monthly Sex Talks Series and will be joined by Vicki Pavitt, love coach, former dating expert for Match.com, and co-founder of Project Love. Also weighing on the conversation is the inimitable Annie Lord, Vogue's resident dating columnist and author of Notes on Heartbreak. As well as Bolu Baboalola, the self-coined ‘romcomoissuer’ and author of Times bestseller of the year Love in Colour, as well as the novel Honey and Spice. Join the conversation at One Hundred Shoreditch as we pose the question: How do you open your heart to love?
A date, date… Okay, so we have to include a few of our favourite spots for a date in the city, but before that let's (re)define what we mean by “date.” Reevaluating our perception of what dating and love means is a powerful tool in establishing how we approach them in the first placce. Though, of course, a date can be an intimate evening with a potential partner or your significant other, it can also be a date with a friend, a date with a colleague, or a date with family – romancing all the loves in your life is key in building and maintaining those close relationships.
Pidgin is a great understated choice, don’t be deceived by the unassuming facade, inside expect a buzzy atmosphere, and incredible food. To go all-out our current favorite is Jamavar. Located in Mayfair, this Indian restaurant has recently received its first Michelin star and the food is perfect – the best way to do it is to opt for the lunch tasting menu where four courses cost £52 (dinner service starts at £105), that way you have the rest of the day ahead of you. The Rosemary Branch in Debeauvoir is the optimum Sunday date, a classic enough looking pub, but open fires, great roasts, a live pianist, and an endless supply of board games make it stand out. Other ideas we love are pottery and making sessions or a walk around one of London’s parks - perfect for sunny Saturdays.
A phone call: Remember to check in, romancing, dating, and love of all kinds from the platonic to the romantic call for little gestures – the grand might seem like a surefire way to impress but little and often can actually be more significant. Who doesn’t love picking up the phone to: I was just thinking about you, are you free to chat? Call the people that mean the most to you and let them know exactly that – you mean a lot to me. You’ll be surprised how much this form of communication will make your loved ones feel, well… loved.
Who to invite
As we mentioned, we have been thinking about love as a big picture. Friendships are amongst the most vital relationships we form in our entire lives, and nurturing those relationships is a romance of its own kind. In fact, recently, coaches, therapists, and counsellors have been noticing a rise in the platonic relationships – think all the hallmarks of a typical romantic relationship sans intimacy. But more on that later…
A technique for romantic dating we have been loving seeing on social media at the moment is the “invite a date to dinner” approach. On TikTok, viral videos show groups cooking up a storm and setting the table with each of the friendship group bringing a first date as a plus one. This is a fun and safe environment to introduce new people to your circle. It doesn’t have to be strictly romantic either, as we mentioned in the fourth issue of the Superconnector where we discussed how to throw a dinner party, why not tell each one of your invitees to bring someone new to the table?
Members to watch
When it comes to everything we know about love a lot of it is thanks to our Member's network… We have many members in the space from coaches to love and wellness founders - remember you can search our network with keywords both on desktop and in app…
Ellie Baker is a Relationship Coach and is on a mission to destigmatise relationship support through online courses. Baker is passionate about understanding people, and believes fundamentally in the importance of fulfilling relationships that don’t just “slide through life.” Using her background in psychology and coaching, Baker created Coupld, the “relationship gym” for online couples coaching.
If you are looking to work on your relationship with yourself, then look no further than Tajinder Kaur, your official hype woman. Working to empower women to wake up to their worth, reconnect with their beauty, celebrate themselves, and to create beautiful portraits through cultivating self-awareness, coaching, and creativity. Drop Tajinder a message to discuss self-love, art, philosophy, and music… because loving yourself is the first step to any relationship.
Jemma Sawyer is the founder of ILOH, the UK's first by women, for women, sexual health and wellbeing retailer in the UK, launched in 2020 to address the SexTech space being dominated by men. Jemma is on a mission to support women in changing the conversation about sexual health and pleasure.
What to discuss
In a recent feature, The Stack took a dive into a new form of relationship, one of the strictly platonic kind. On TikTok the tag ‘platonic life partner’ has amassed over 20 million views. On the subject, we spoke to psychotherapist Hilda Burke who had this to say about the rise of friendships being held in the same regard as the typically “romantic”: “With the elevation of friendship to a role more akin in previous generations to a romantic partnership, people are expecting more from their friendships than may have been the case hitherto. I think we’ll start seeing more rituals celebrating friendship such as commitment ceremonies between friends or friend-aversaries.” It's an idea we love here at The Stack – so, why not book a celebratory anniversary meal with your best friend? Years of friendship deserve celebration and again is a great way to nurture that relationship in your life.
Another thing to think about, and a subject we have looked at in-depth here at The Stack World is our relationships with sex. Check out Emma Louise Boynton’s Sex Therapy series where she shared her learnings after taking a deep dive into her own relationship with sex. In a similar vein to what we have said before, intimacy is really about the relationship you have with yourself so understanding what you want and need is vital…
If you missed it in January, as part of The Big Women Energy 2023 retreat Sharmadean Reid led our Members through the Vision and Mission setting workshop. As part of this, we got down to the fine details on what we want, need, and have to address in order for our relationships to thrive. This pertains to the romantic kind but we recommend taking a quiet moment this weekend to answer the below. The better you know yourself the better you can show up not just for others but yourself too...
Has dating in 2023 just become a game? Our Stack Conversation panelists talk protecting your heart, being on the apps, and dating fatigue.
By Hannah Connolly
The ‘Pure O’ or ‘purely obsessional’ type of OCD is characterised by distressing, intrusive thoughts and mental rituals to cope with them. Rae Elliman shares her experience of living with – and learning to manage – these hidden compulsions