Let’s face it: Valentine’s Day can be a drag. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, Valentine’s Day can create extreme pressure. For some couples, the pressure is on one or both partners to develop the “perfect” day and to even outperform previous Valentine’s Days. For single people, V-Day comes with the bombardment of social messaging shouting that the “right thing to do” is to be coupled up to participate in the festivities. The result of much of the advertising and messaging around Valentine’s Day is that many people don’t end up feeling very… festive. It’s a holiday! It should be fun, right?
You’re absolutely right. Valentine’s Day should and can be a blast. Whatever your relationship status, if you’re feeling the pressure this year, take note of the following tips to de-stress your V-Day and actually enjoy it for once.
Honest communication is a cornerstone of any healthy romantic or platonic relationship. Few things cause more stress than a mismatch of expectations – especially during a holiday that puts the performance of romantic gestures on a pedestal. If you’re panicking because you don’t know what’s going to make your partner swoon this year, or you can’t imagine how to outdo last year, take a deep breath and a significant step back. While asking your partner what they expect from you might seem un-sexy, clarifying expectations before feelings get hurt, will undoubtedly be worth it in the long run.
Don’t listen to sit-com logic; believe you should have “taken some hint” and psychically chosen the perfect gift or date location. Ask! Maybe your date will tell you exactly where they’d like to go or what they’d like to receive. Perhaps you both want to keep the surprise alive, and you can solicit date ideas by asking your partner about destinations they’d like to go to this year.
The bottom line is that it’s okay (yes, really) to ask your partner if they expect extravagance or prefer a night in. Maybe you think your spouse needs a night on the town, but a night with pizza, a good movie, and the kids at a babysitter would be better. Removing the guesswork will only make you shine as a partner and reduce the pressure of divining the perfect gift or night out.
If you’re single, this applies to you, too! By taking this advice, you can also alleviate some of those Valentine’s blues. This looks different for every situation, but maybe it’s just telling your mom that you don’t want her annual “Happy Valentine’s Day!” call or asking a friend to a platonic dinner, so neither of you has to be alone.
Honesty with yourself is crucial, as well. Why do you feel down this year? Maybe you’ve gone through a rough breakup, and the wounds are still fresh, but perhaps you’ve felt empowered as a single person and don’t need to let the advertising overload and your friends’ Instagram feeds get to you.
Keep Romance Alive the Rest of the Year
For many, Valentine’s Day might feel like their one shot to prove their love to their partner and keep the romance alive. That’s a lot to expect from just one day! What if there was more than one day a year to shower your love in affection? It turns out there is. Some might host other holidays, but still, about 364 other days in an average year are just as suitable for showing your partner some love.
Maybe what works for your relationship is surprising each other with little mini-getaways from time to time. Work in some simple surprises here and there, like pausing to tell your partner how much you love and appreciate them. Or, try ordering take-out when you know they had a rough day. Whatever works for you, focus on giving to your partner more than one day a year, and you’ll probably be surprised at the positive change you see in your relationship!
If you both work on keeping romance and appreciation alive the rest of the year, winning Valentine’s Day won’t feel like such a monumental task.
Avoid Budget-Busting Dates and Gifts
If you feel like Valentine’s Day empties your wallet every year, or you find yourself working extra hours for weeks afterward to make up for it, you’re probably dealing with way more stress than necessary. Movies and advertising have scarred some of us into believing that if we don’t get our date that diamond necklace or take them to the highest-end restaurant in the city, we’ll look bad or aren’t doing enough as a partners.
It’s imperative to remember that movies and advertising aren’t real. It isn’t true that romantic means shelling thousands of dollars out on gifts or extravagant dates. If you’re in a financial position to do these things, and they speak to your partner, by all means, enjoy it. That isn’t the reality for most people, though; if it isn’t your reality, it doesn’t make you less of a partner (or person). Besides, if you’re in a long-term relationship where shared finances are a concern, extravagance might bring a smile the day the gift is given but cause fights and unnecessary stress later on.
What is the better approach? Find budget-friendly ways to spend the day. If you live in a coastal area, a lobster dinner out might cost too much, but fresh seafood from the coast and a home-cooked meal might taste better and cost less. If eating out isn’t in your budget, plan a picnic or barbecue at a local park or scenic spot.
Advertisers’ job is to get you to spend money, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them. Follow the guideline of “authenticity over expense.” A book of hand-made coupons for breakfast in bed, a bubble bath, or a massage might mean more to your partner than diamonds, anyway. If you panicked after Valentine’s Day last year, use this year to trial budget-friendly date and gift options. You’ll be pleased with how much less stress you feel.
Single and Ready to Mingle… or Not
Whether you’re single by choice or not, Valentine’s Day can feel rough. The good news? It doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re going to opt out of V-Day altogether this year or still want to celebrate on your own, there are a few things to keep in mind when trying to cope with this holiday.
First, if you feel the pressure to find a mate – or else – around Feb. 14, you have something in common with members of couples who feel the pressure to buy, buy, buy. Valentine’s Day originated long ago but was only commercialized relatively recently. Only since the mid-20th century have people been as bombarded with V-Day marketing as they are today. The rise of the Internet means that advertising for date locations, gifts, cards, and so on is only more ubiquitous.
The thing to keep in mind? Much social pressure to be in a relationship on Valentine’s Day comes from advertisers who want you to buy more for your partner. With this information, try to re-frame your singleness in a way that suits you. Maybe you’re rebelling from the commercialization of love or celebrating your independence. Whatever works for you is great. Just don’t forget: you’re not less of a person because you aren’t buying a heart-shaped pizza for two.
Second, who says you can’t still have fun? Love doesn’t have to mean romantic love, either. Whether you plan a platonic date with a friend or treat yourself to your favorite restaurant, there are no shortage of things to do. Valentine’s Day might be a great time to show your family members how much you care or to shower your friends with appreciation. You might find that pushing yourself to go out alone opens you up to meeting new and exciting people. Certainly, you aren’t relegated to eating ice cream on the couch (unless that’s what you want to do, of course).
So Go, Enjoy!
One last and vital tip: don’t compare your Valentine’s Day with anyone else’s. Your path is your own, and however, you choose to celebrate (or not!) should be enjoyable for you. Whatever your relationship status this year, take these tips and have a lovely Valentine’s Day.