Whether I’ve been in a relationship or not on Valentine’s Day, my opinion of the holiday hasn’t changed: it’s a silly, silly day! While I appreciate the sentiment of showing your partner some love, the cynical side of me can’t help but acknowledge that this Hallmark holiday is ingeniously created and sustained by the marketing industry. (Hey, I said this was the cynical side of me talking!)
That said, whether you’re in a relationship or not this February 14, there are useful tips you can implement to make this day a bit more bearable.
1. For my readers in relationships, clarify expectations.
People have all sorts of feelings about Valentine’s Day, and with those feelings come expectations. If you’re the type of person who loves the idea of having someone bring you flowers and chocolates, you should make sure your partner knows this.
I know what you’re thinking: Doesn’t telling my partner to get me something take the romance out of it? Maybe a little, but you know what’s an even bigger romance killer? Resentment and anger. You might try saying something like, “I know people have different expectations about Valentine’s Day, so I thought I’d take the guesswork out of things a bit and make sure we both enjoy the day. It makes me feel really special and appreciated to be given flowers and I’d love to do something little for you, too. Does that sound okay?” This type of conversation might not seem particularly natural, but I’m a firm believer in being more direct up front so there’s less resentment later.
2. If you’re a man in a heterosexual relationship, do something—anything—for your partner.
Referring to point 1, a lot of women feel completely awkward, ridiculous, or annoyed by the idea of voicing their needs to their partner, which doesn’t always set men up for success. Nonetheless, I can’t think of a single woman who would dislike her partner doing something thoughtful. So men: at the very least, do something thoughtful for your lady. (You can get flowers for $5 - 8 at gas stations these days, so don’t give me the excuse that they’re too expensive.) It’s better to stay on the safe side and do something rather than nothing just in case.
3. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, stay off of social media for the day.
The reason Valentine’s Day can be so stressful is that it provides way too many opportunities for people to compare themselves (and their relationships) to others. You can start the day feeling completely okay with your decision to have a low-key V-Day and somehow wind up feeling resentful about the fact that your partner didn’t get you a bouquet as extravagant as the one Becky showed off on Instagram. It’s just silly! Lots of people use the day to show off, so save yourself the headache and stay offline when you can.
4. If you’re single, share some love with a friend.
While Valentine’s Day is marketed towards significant others, I think it provides a wonderful opportunity to share your love with anyone you love, even if it’s non-romantically. Maybe you can send a nice card to a friend sharing how much you appreciate them. Or maybe you can take a family member to dinner and a movie. Valentine’s Day needn’t be about just celebrating romantic love, but all forms of it.
5. If you’re single, show yourself some love, too.
Wear your favourite outfit to work just because. Treat yourself to a massage or manicure. Do a face mask at home and binge watch a crappy-yet-amazing TV show. Engage in positive, loving self-talk throughout the day rather than getting down on yourself. The most important relationship we have is the one with ourselves, so don’t forget to direct some of the Valentine’s Day love inward.