Valentine’s Day is upon us again and if we are to believe television shows, romantic comedies and especially advertisements, it is a happy occasion, filled with chocolates, roses and romantic dinners…but is this really the case? The constant bombardment of imagery depicting perfect relationships and everlasting love can trigger stress, self-doubt, sadness, discontentment, and even depression for many. Whether you are single, in a relationship or going through a breakup, Valentine’s Day can result in serious anxiety. As a day dedicated to the celebration of romantic love, it is filled with a lot of expectation. This spotlight on your relationship status can make you compare yourself to others and feel like you don’t measure up, as if you are the only person not enjoying Valentine’s Day.
So, You’re Single!
When you’re single, Valentine’s Day can feel like a criticism of your life rather than a celebration of love. All the focus on romance can leave you feeling lonely, unlovable, or unworthy of love – you may even worry that you’ll never find anyone. It goes without saying that there is no such thing as being unlovable. Remember, everyone has the potential to love and to be loved by others, but here are some ways to help you cope if you’re feeling down:
1. Find Social Activities
Get together with other unattached friends, go to a movie, look for mixers, events or parties targeted at singles, go to a fitness class or do something to get yourself out and about.
2. Use social or online resources
If you want to be in a relationship, then you need to be proactive. Join a dating website, ask friends to set up a blind date, or connect with an interest or fitness group. If you are out there, you have more chances of meeting someone than if you stay at home?
3. Treat yourself
You don’t need someone else to pamper you – do it yourself. Watch a movie, book a personal training session, organise a massage, take a friend out to dinner, and who says you can’t buy yourself flowers, chocolates or jewellery?
Doing some of these things will make you feel that you are moving in the right direction and, more importantly, that you have the ability to make yourself happy.
New love – isn’t it sweet! While this is true, a high pressure, high profile event like Valentine’s Day can derail even the most blissful early relationships. Expectations of a big romantic evening can put a lot of pressure on your partner and even your relationship. Likewise, trying to plan the perfect date can be very stressful. Here are a few things that can help:
1. Talk to your partner.
It’s best to discuss both of your expectations in advance.
2. Be realistic.
To avoid disappointment, tell your partner what would make you happy and find out what you can do for your partner.
3. Don’t get fixated with one ideal.
Be open to new experiences. You don’t have to do the same thing as everyone else.
Above all, don’t use this event to test your relationship. Try to think of Valentine’s Day as a time to learn more about your partner and an opportunity to get to know each other better.
Going Through a Breakup.
The sadness and loneliness of a breakup can be magnified on Valentine’s Day. Instead of wallowing in what might have been, change your mindset and focus on the positives of your situation.
1. Remind yourself why you ended your relationship in the first place
It is better to be in no relationship than in a bad relationship. Focus on the good things about being single and how it is far better than being with the wrong person.
2. Look after yourself
If you didn’t initiate the breakup, then you may need to nurture yourself – try a massage, a facial or a fitness class.
3. Keep your friends and family close.
Spend time with a friend or loved one, be it dinner, a movie or a phone call. You might need the extra support.
Above all, focus on the areas of your life that are positive and remember that breakups leave you open for new opportunities.
In a Rocky Relationship!
There’s nothing like Valentine’s Day to make you realise you are unhappy with your relationship or magnify a rocky phase you are going through. This can create lots of anxiety. Maybe you’re working overtime trying to keep up the pretence that everything is fine, or feeling helpless and suffocated in an unhappy relationship. You can work through this anxiety by either facing your problems head-on with your partner or deciding that maybe it’s time to go your separate ways.
1. Look at what’s wrong.
Think about why the relationship leaves you feeling unhappy, and then decide whether you want to work on your issues or move on.
2. Shake it up.
If you’re bored in your relationship, use Valentine’s Day as a way to spice things up. Book a couple’s massage, visit a new restaurant or spend the night in a plush hotel. Break up your normal routine.
3. Spend some quality time together.
Forget the drama, plan an evening with your partner, try to focus on each other and avoid all the distraction … for one night at least.
If you’ve tried it all but still feel the relationship isn’t working, maybe Valentine’s Day is the inspiration to start your single life. You aren’t doing yourself (or your partner) any favours by staying if your heart just isn’t in it anymore.
So, whatever your relationship status, remember you are not the only one feeling anxious on Valentine’s Day. Take the opportunity to assess your love life, where you want to be, and how you can get there. If you are worried you’ll be sad, do let your friends or family know so they can be there with you or at least check in with you. Remember, people won’t know what you need unless you tell them. And keep in mind Valentine’s Day’s importance is magnified by shops trying to sell their products. In the end, Valentine’s Day is just a day – keep things in perspective. Don’t despair if you aren’t in a relationship and don’t base your worth on your relationship status.
If you need help coping with Valentine’s Day-related anxiety, give Wellbeing Therapy Space a bell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Claire Mansveld of Hey Zeus! Creative
Photo by Evelyn Bertrand on Unsplash