FRIDAY is St Valentine’s Day. A day that can bring each of us a spectrum of emotions.

Not only may we have expectations of the day, but we also hold memories of past St Valentine’s days.

The more we have experienced, the larger our memory store will hold – good, bad and indifferent, joyous and heart-breaking.

The earliest memories I hold are of schooldays and girls boasting about their Valentine cards, while I had received nothing. One year I received my first one – it’s silly that I can still remember it. A squirrel saying: “I’m nuts about you”. It’s a shame really, because I certainly wasn’t nuts about him.

Some people say that it’s just a modern invention, or American, and for businesses to make money. The business angle is certainly true, but St Valentine and romantic love have been celebrated for centuries. My grandfather was born on February 14, 1885, and was given Valentine as his middle name.

Human beings have a basic need to love and be loved. If these needs are met healthily, then life can be good. But for all the smiles, hugs and good feelings, there is another, less attractive, ugly side, where the need to give and receive love can cause problems.

I belong to an organisation called Soroptimist International, the York Ebor branch. The clubs in the York region support and promote an anti-grooming initiative. In a reflection below is a list that was created with young girls in mind, but is suitable for all children and adults, all genders, in any relationship, in any situation.

I hope on this forthcoming St Valentine’s Day you can recognise the signs of emotionally mature love in the Loves Me column.

In a perfect world, we would all have relationships in the Loves Me list, but this is an imperfect world.

At home, the workplace, school, college, clubs, in fact anywhere, if there is a relationship in your life that ticks some lines in the ‘Loves Me Not’ list please ask someone for advice and support.

Points for reflection

Loves me                                                                  
Makes me feel safe                                             
Makes me feel comfortable    
Listens to me                                                               
Values my opinions   
Supports what I want to do in life                               
Is truthful with me                                                        
Admits to being wrong         
Respects me                                                              
Likes that I have other friends  
Makes me laugh
Trusts me
Treats me as an equal                                                   
Respects my family 
Accepts me as I am                                                      
Understands my need for time alone or with family

Loves me not
Is jealous
Is possessive
Tries to control me
Gets violent, loses temper quickly
Always blames me
Is sexually demanding
Keeps me from seeing friends and family
Makes all the decisions
Embarrasses me in front of others  
Hits me
Makes me cry
Is always checking up on me
Takes my money and things
Bullies and puts me down
Threatens to leave me if I don’t do what I’m told.

Rita Leaman is a psychotherapist and writer who lives in North Yorkshire and is the author of Are You Chasing Rainbows? under the pen name Alison R Russell