Depending on who you ask, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, a Hallmark inspired scam, or a depressing reminder of being alone. I tend to go with the celebration of love, despite being single. In my Valentine’s themed post last year, I talked about different ways to think about Valentine’s Day, whether you’re single or part of a couple. However, I am well aware of the fact that a lot of people regardless of their relationship status and best of intentions find Valentine’s Day stressful. So let’s talk about why that is, and how to avoid it.
Why it’s stressful: Expectations. There are some very strong messages coming from everywhere, all the time, about what Valentine’s Day should be. I think this has gotten especially strong in today’s world of ubiquitous social media. You need the right gift, the right card, the right flowers, the right restaurant. If you don’t plan the perfect Valentine’s Day, you’ll be in the doghouse, or if you aren’t on the receiving end of the perfect Valentine’s Day, your partner is insensitive, irresponsible, and/or just doesn’t care enough.
What to do about it: First of all, tune out all of those advertisements, movies, and advice from others and realize that there are only two expectations that matter: yours and your partner’s. Have an honest conversation about how important Valentine’s Day is or isn’t to both of you. Talk about the options, and plan together instead of one person taking on all the responsibility. You might find that your expectations are in sync, and if not, it gives you the opportunity to find your middle ground or to decide what you’re willing to give up or grin and bear.
Once upon a time, I had a significant other go absolutely insane planning an expensive and elaborate Valentine’s Day experience. I appreciated it, but honestly, it was completely unnecessary. I’m a no frills kind of girl and would have been fine with something simple. I wish I’d made the effort to make my feeling’s known and saved the poor guy a lot of stress.
Why it’s stressful: This is where I live my life right now, and it’s actually a very easy place to be. For those of us who are content with not being in a relationship, most of the Valentine’s Day messages just become white noise. The thing that can be stressful, though, is that Valentine’s Day often inspires the people around us to comment on our single status. It amazes me how often people try to fix me up in the first few weeks of February.
How to deal with it: Start by remembering that most people are doing these things from a place of concern. Odds are that if you hear them out, they will then be receptive to a polite response. Have one ready so you aren’t caught off guard, like, “I appreciate it, but I’m actually very happy with my life right now. I hope that you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, and again, thank you so much for caring.”
Why it’s stressful: This is probably the toughest place to be, and I have been there. If you’re not in a relationship and would very much like to be, Valentine’s Day is one of those times where you feel the universe is rubbing it in your face.
How to deal with it: First, remind yourself that things happen when they happen and that trying to force a romantic connection almost never leads to a good outcome. Second, keep yourself busy. Make plans with other single friends, or set the time aside for solo activities you enjoy. Remind yourself that there are also benefits to not having to check with someone else about what to do, what to eat, what movie to watch, etc. Give yourself a self-care night or time to indulge in a hobby or interest. Enjoy the company of friend and family, or yourself, because those relationships are important. Either way, focus on what you have as opposed to what you don’t.
And stay away from the rom coms. Trust me on that.
Do you have any plans for Valentine’s Day?