Valentine’s Schmalentines. Many of us want to hide away from the world on February 14th.
Hate Valentine's Day? No one would blame you. The day is celebrated (or often, just tolerated) around the globe every year. It can cause us to question our own relationship status, enhance our existing feelings of loneliness and put enormous pressure on couples to meet the perceived expectations of their loved-ones.
Ironically, it even causes us question love itself: the most Googled question ahead of February 14 is indeed 'What is love?' closely followed by 'How do you know if you love someone?'. It appears that the day may cause more confusion, doubt and expense than it does solidify our feelings of love...
Here are the top reasons why people are becoming more resistant to the concept of Valentine's Day - whether you're single or coupled-up.
If you're single...
1. It shines a spotlight on your relationship status
While adding a little romance to the world is no bad thing, Valentine’s Day can also be hard for many people. If you’re single, it’s all too easy to feel lonely in the face of the onslaught of love and affection everywhere you go.
That can take its toll on your mental health, whether you’re in a relationship or not. Days which are supposed to celebrate love and togetherness can sometimes highlight how different, alone or low we feel.
2. Your Mum is your Valentine... *cringe*
Not only do you have to deal with your friends who are in a relationship saying "Ahhh, well maybe next year!" or asking "Why do you think you've not met anyone yet?" - but when you're single, your family can feel the need to fill the void.
Your mum especially may go mad with cupcakes, stuffed toys(!), or send you a sympathy card which everyone 'knows' is really from her. As well-meaning as this is, it can often make you feel more isolated and like a 'special case' - when that's rarely the case.
3. Social media is beyond painful
Social media's false sense of validation actually alters your brain chemistry, giving you a dopamine hit to get likes and interaction. So it's no wonder that February 14 is flooded with soppy hashtags everywhere you look on the internet - but it's to the detriment of our wellbeing.
Cognitively, we know that the highlights reel is just what we all choose to show to the world - but on a deeper level, comparison takes over. Social media plays into a lot of people's anxiety and depression.
People love to post Valentine-related visuals, seeking out this shallow validation. When you see everyone else's visuals of what they are getting from someone else, you're assuming that they're happy. Don't forget that there are also many unhealthy, unhappy relationships that look as if they're perfect online - don't fall into the comparison trap.
4. You have to 'get out of the way'
If you happen to have a birthday or want to go away anywhere for any reason in mid February - then you can forget it. Hotels and restaurants hike up their prices significantly, knowing that loved-up couples everywhere will be willing to pay it. Never mind those single people who have the audacity to want to celebrate anything else.
You very much have to move over and 'get out of the way' of Valentine's Day. And if you're brave enough to dine out with a friend on February 14, then beware: public displays of affection may just put you off that overpriced prix fixe dinner...
And if you're coupled up...
5. Just started dating? It can get awkward.
Valentine's Day isn't on everyone's radar, but if you've recently entered into a new relationship, you might be wondering how to handle the day of love.
Maybe you're not even sure if you're officially 'dating' if you've only met up a few times, or it's possible that your partner thinks they've met the love of their life - but you're still settling into the relationship. Is this a good time to ask? Or maybe how they react to the day may be all-telling? It's a minefield.
6. It's just so... 'extra'!
So many couples hate V-Day from the commercial standpoint. Basing the day on how much you spend on your partner will never make anyone feel fulfilled.
Despite knowing that companies pressurise you to ensure extra profit, we go along with it anyway! Supermarkets overcharge you for drink, chocolates and flowers (that you could purchase any other day of the year for half the price...).
It wasn’t that long ago that Valentine’s Day meant buying a card for your loved one and perhaps a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates. Not anymore.
Exactly how much we British spend on Valentine’s Day varies depending on the survey you look at, but whichever one you choose, the days of a simple card and a box of chocolates being sufficient on the 14th of February seem to be long gone.
7. Expectations don't always match
If there are expectations - which there inevitably are on Valentine's Day, disappointment is bound to follow closely behind. Couples learn to dislike Valentine’s because of the pressure to be romantic, to do something special - but it's a tough balance to strike.
If you don't do anything or keep it simple, your partner may secretly feel let down. Or in extreme cases (depending upon their secret Love Language) - as if they are not worthy of grand gestures, even making them doubt their partner's investment into the relationship.
But equally, if you do go 'all out' with flowers, cards, elaborate meals and jewelry - and your partner simply buys you a card - then it causes an instant imbalance and untold awkwardness.
8. You may have an 'Avoidant' Attachment style
Regardless of relationship status, Valentine's Day may be particularly cringe-worthy for those who prefer to avoid intimacy, or have an Avoidant Attachment style.
Relating back to Attachment Theory, which is rooted in research on parent-child interactions, those with an Avoidant attachment style tend to avoid intimacy with their partners and tend not to offer as much emotional support - let alone huge, lavish displays of affection.
You can find out your own Attachment Style by taking our complimentary online test here: REDDI | Attachment Style Test (iamreddi.com)
10. You might just be a rebel!
In marketing, there's a notion called 'resistance theory'. Basically, if people feel like they're being asked to comply with a prescribed, pre-packaged behaviour, they're unlikely to do so.
Valentine's Day is so 'in your face' that it's ripe for resistance, and people feel a strong sense of gift-giving resistance surrounding Valentine's Day, even as they feel obligated to get something for their significant other. The sense of obligation killed any sense of meaning that came with the gift-giving.
So maybe it's more liberating to draw your curtains and simply say 'Nope!' to the overhype?
In summary, Valentine’s Day is just another day. It means nothing if the other 364 days don’t come close to measuring up. Single or not, don’t let one day be the only day you share kindness or show your love to someone special.
If you are part of a couple, it does provide an opportunity to show your connection with your partner and make time for each other - which is something were not doing enough. Just be mindful and don't let the pressure negatively impact your mental health, or your bank balance!
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