4 Tips To Have A Valentine's Day That Doesn't Suck
By Danielle Carney, LMHC
Whether you’re single or in a relationship, Valentine’s Day can feel loaded. If you’re in a relationship, Valentine’s Day can come with some high expectations of romance and wanting to feel special. If you’re single, it can kick up some feelings of loneliness or longing. Whatever your relationship status is, know that your feelings about Valentine’s Day are valid.
You have the right to feel however you do about the holiday, and let’s also remember that it’s just another day of the year, and we get the choice to assign its meaning. Valentine’s Day can carry a lot of weight in our society, and if you’re finding it’s not helpful for you to look at it that way, then maybe consider reassessing its importance to you this year.
Here are some tips to make the holiday as bearable as possible, whether you’re spending it alone or with a partner:
1. Get clear about your expectations.
If you’re in a relationship and you’re waiting on your partner to magically know what you’re expecting of them, this is your sign to reconsider. While it’s totally understandable to wish our partners could read our minds, we also need to realize that many times this hope sets us up for failure, hurt, and disappointment.
As great as our partners can be, and regardless of how well they know us or how much they love us, they can’t possibly know what we want without us telling them. Sure, surprises are nice, but if you’re in a headspace of secretly willing them to pull out all the stops for you on Valentine’s Day, I’d encourage you to reassess and actually talk to them about what you’re hoping for.
I have heard countless stories of people feeling let down when they don’t voice what they want. As a general rule, it is self-defeating to not ask for what you want. When you speak up and are clear about your expectations, it increases the likelihood of making them happen (and no, it doesn’t mean that someone is just doing it because you told them to).
In a similar light, if you’re single, give yourself the opportunity to assess what you want to make of the day. Do you not want to do anything? Do you want to make it a day of self-love? Do you want to spend it with your friends? If you’re clear about what you want for yourself, it’s more likely you’ll feel content and positive about how you spend it.
2. Remember to show love to yourself, too.
Who said you can only celebrate Valentine’s Day if you’re in a relationship?
While Valentine’s Day can feel like it’s geared only towards people with partners, I’d also encourage you to see if you can reframe your perspective to show yourself some self-love, regardless of your relationship status. Take the morning slow, practice small, mindful moments throughout the day, treat yourself to a meal you enjoy, paint your nails, or watch your favorite movie – whether on your own, with friends, or with your partner.
Taking a few small steps to take care of ourselves is so helpful for fostering increased self-esteem and reducing stress, on Valentine’s Day and otherwise!
3. Consider lowering the bar.
If the glamorized and commercialized version of romance just isn’t your vibe this year (or maybe ever, lol), take the pressure off of yourself! Who actually likes calling around frantically for dinner reservations or going crazy trying to plan the perfect night anyway?
Putting so much high expectation into the day can often take the fun out of it. If it’s important to you to do something special, plan ahead and speak to your partner about it early. If you’re finding the heightened pressure around doing everything just right is anxiety-provoking, then consider lowering the bar. As long as you find enjoyment and presence in the day, that is all that matters.
4. Reclaim the day.
If Valentine’s Day brings up painful memories of past relationships or traumas, remind yourself that we get the choice to redefine how we want to experience it if and when we’re ready to.
For some people not in a relationship, it might bring up feelings of loneliness, bitterness, or sadness. If this resonates with you, ask yourself how helpful it feels to spend the day attaching to those feelings, or if there’s room to take actions that support feeling something different – perhaps towards fulfillment, connection, joy, or peace.
It doesn’t make those memories go away or minimize any difficult, complex emotions you might feel, but it’s helpful to be intentional about what’s going to feel best to you and how you can meet your own needs.
Maybe you want a chill, lowkey day spent in your own space and energy. Maybe it feels preferable to stay busy and spend time with supportive friends. There are no right or wrong answers here, but check in with yourself, listen to your body, and see what feels right.
Happy Valentine's Day!
I hope you make the best of the day, whether you choose to celebrate it or not. Remember you get to choose how you’d like to spend it in a way that feels good to you.
If you’re looking for support from an online therapist specializing in relationships and dating, you can reach out to me here.