Valentine’s Day is a strange day of the year. No matter what your age or relationship status, it’s a day that (if allowed) induces anxiety and unnecessary stress in some form or another.
For young children, it’s fun. There are parties and sweets and overflowing amounts of all things red, pink and purple. The parents have to run around like chickens with their heads cut off making it magical; but the kids have fun.
As we get a little older and become school-age, the unnecessary stress kicks in. Parents take a back seat to making it magical and it’s up to our tween counterparts to validate us and make us feel like we matter that day. Whoever thought that was a good idea should have their privileges revoked-but that’s another post for another day.
I remember Valentine’s Day in 8th grade when they did the “buy a rose for your sweet heart” or “send a secret Valentine to your secret Valentine” stuff.
Instant anxiety and insecurity inundates the school like a plague.
The popular kids get flooded with cards and candies and stuffed animals while the rest of us sit around all day with anxious bellies hoping just one person remembers our name and thinks to send us a rose too. Most every year, the only Valentine’s I got were from my mom. (Thanks Mom!)
Even in middle school, I knew it was all kind of ridiculous and slightly misguided. But that didn’t really stop me from feeling the pressure and insecurity of comparing how many cards I got next to someone else. It didn’t really stop me from feeling, even at young ages, that maybe I was unlovable; or at least less lovable than the girls with all the hearts and flowers that day.
It’s not just the girls receiving or not receiving Valentines that struggle. It’s a lot of pressure for the guys too. Even the 8th graders. You can look at them and see the stress. They’re judged for what they did or didn’t do, and they’re judged for who they chose. Is he good enough for her? Is she good enough for him? Did he do enough? Did she react well? Did she reciprocate his feelings?
It’s too much!
Then we get older and it doesn’t stop. The heat just gets hotter.
Single, married, dating, solo-ish. Whatever the status, Valentine’s Day places a magnifying glass on your heart and your love life and forces you to examine what it looks like.
Facebook is flooded with sweet status updates of happy couples. Commercials are taunting us. Grocery stores are begging us to buy extra crap no one needs. And if we allow it to, especially those of us who are uncoupled, it can start to make us feel particularly alone and unloved.
Valentine’s Days were never that spectacular for me even when I was married or in a relationship. That’s largely due to the fact that I was with men whose romantic bones were broken and/or they just simply cared more about themselves than going out of their way to make a February day extra special. Most sweet gestures were done out of obligation and societal coercion; and to me, that feels even more lonely than having no one.
After a series of failed relationships or a divorce, many people start to question themselves. “Will I ever find someone? Am I going to die alone? Is there hope left for finding what I want in a relationship? Should I just give it up altogether?”
Valentine’s Day can tend to bring these pesky questions and self-doubts to the front burner.
Over the years I have learned a couple things about Valentine’s Day, love, and relationships.
Now, you may think to yourself, “Oh yeah Mrs. Thirty-Year-Old, Two-Time Divorcee…. what great knowledge are you going to lay down for us on love and relationships for Valentine’s Day??”
Well, here it is.
First of all, we’re just as single or married or dating or solo-ish on Valentine’s Day as we were the day before it.
Being single on February 14th doesn’t make you any more single than you’ve been or will be. It’s just another day. In the same vein, being married on February 14th doesn’t make you any more married. It shouldn’t be a day filled with pressure to woo and romance your partner because you should already be doing those things on the regular days. While it’s a great opportunity to do a little extra, your partner shouldn’t have to wait for February 14th to see how much you love and care about them. They should know by the way you treat them everyday, not just on Valentine’s Day.
Second of all, I’d choose being single and getting nothing but some hugs from my sons over being in a damaging or unhealthy relationship ANY day of the week-even if it did come with flowers.
Flowers and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate don’t equal love. The reason we all want those things is not just because we love chocolate and we think flowers are pretty. Inside of a relationship, we don’t want our partners to acknowledge us on Valentine’s Day because everyone else is doing it or so that we can post a cute lovey picture on social media.
We want those things because of what they signify. We want to know we are seen. We want to feel loved. Appreciated. Desired. Cherished. Honored. We want to know we are worth the effort. And we want to know that February 14th is just one more chance to show that; not simply a day of obligatory forced romance.
Single people on Valentine’s Day often focus on the love they don’t have yet rather than the love they already do have.
Don’t do that!
If you have children, you’ve already got more than enough love in your life-for Valentine’s Day, and every day. If you have a family, whether through blood or other means, you have love in your life.
No matter what your relationship status is, don’t let Valentine’s Day become bigger than you.
If you don’t have a significant someone to celebrate the day with the way Hallmark wants us to, celebrate it with the loved ones you do have. Buy yourself some chocolate. Have a glass of wine. Shower your kids with the love they deserve every day. Pick yourself a flower. Love yourself a little extra that day. Look at what you do have.
You are enough. With or without a partner, you are enough. With or without Valentine’s Day, you deserve love. With or without February 14th as a reminder, you already have love in your life, even if it’s not via marriage or a committed relationship just yet.
No relationship is better than an unhealthy one, on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year.
So no matter who you’re celebrating (or not celebrating) with this Valentine’s Day, don’t let the day become bigger than you.
Love should be shown every day of the year in all that we do. Let’s focus on that.
And hey, in case you don’t hear it from anyone else, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!