Valentine’s Day is a bit of a minefield for many of us. Whilst celebrating love and romance is a wonderful thing, the reality is that the 14th February can be a really tricky day with lots of strong and unpleasant feelings.
And I’m not just talking about people who are currently single. Valentine’s Day can be a difficult day for people within a relationship as well. Here’s why, and then followed by some ideas on how to best navigate through the day.
If you are feeling wonderfully in love, and you and your partner are really looking forward to the 14th, then that’s fantastic. Go and enjoy the day, but this post is probably not for you
Why Valentine's Day Can Be Such A Minefield
Lots of reasons why Valentine’s Day can be difficult, but mostly I think it always comes down to this. We have certain expectations and then the reality doesn’t match those.
And that can apply whether you are single or not.
Perhaps you’d really love to be with someone you love but you can’t. Maybe you’ve just had a relationship breakup. Perhaps you’ve really had enough of being single. Or maybe you’re normally fine about being single, but all the adverts and the commercial stuff around you makes you feel miserable or irritated.
Or, perhaps things with your partner aren’t going so well at the moment. Your relationship might, in fact, be really struggling. Perhaps you’d rather be single, or with somebody else. Or you and your partner live many miles away from each other at the moment.
And maybe these special days throughout the year have generally been disappointing because what you’d like to do and expect differs greatly from your partner’s wishes and feelings.
Or perhaps these special days have added an extra strain onto your relationship. Because let’s face it, you’ve already got so much going on in your life. Having to make this particular day extra special can be exhausting.
And then maybe all these messages on Valentine’s Day cards make you question your love for your partner, even though you wouldn’t have done so otherwise. “My heart beats stronger since the day I met you”, or “My love for you makes each day so special”…or something around having found the perfect one, the one of a lifetime. Being romantic and showing your love is wonderful, but let’s keep it real too.
Through in low mood and/or anxiety, and Valentine’s Day can be just so hard and upsetting. Particularly if you’re dealing with major depression, it can feel (and be) impossible to create any sort of magic. If you can’t feel many positive emotions, it’s hard to celebrate and express your love – even though it’s there.
How to approach valentine's day if it's not filling you with joy
In all honesty, do whatever you like with it. You’ve got the permission.
If you’re single and Valentine’s Day is making you feel bad/sad/irritated/angry, why not use it as a day to treat yourself. Watch an inspiring movie, go out, buy a new book, have a bath, have your most favourite dinner.
Or meet up with a friend who’s also single and chat about all the many things that are actually good about single.
Or go ahead and tell somehow how you’re really feeling. Whatever you are feeling is what you are feeling. Trying to deny your thoughts and emotions or pushing them away tends to only make them stronger. If it means crying into your pillow, you know what? You’re allowed to do that. But all the while, keep in mind that it’s the whole expectation around Valentine’s Day that’s causing the extra upset.
And if you are in a relationship, again talk to your partner and make the day or evening whatever the heck you want it to be. Have an open conversation about your expectations or rather, what you’d ideally like your Valentine’s Day to look like. Again, it’s high expectations that differ from our reality that leave us feeling upset. My partner and I have certainly learnt that lesson many times!
And of course, you’re also allowed to skip the event for whatever reason you might have, and I’m aware there could be many reasons, including painful ones. So skip and ignore it, if that makes life easier.
Valentine’s Day can be a minefield, so take it easy and embrace the day with compassion towards yourself. If you do have someone you love and both of you want to make the day a special occasion, go and enjoy it. And if that’s not you, that is also okay. You will be okay.
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