The expectations surrounding the traditions of Valentine’s Day in America can be stressful. Understanding the negative holiday hype my help eliminate or reduce stressors. Most men and women feel differently about the holiday associated with celebrating relationships and love.
Many Americans have a distorted sense of what love means. Hollywood spins grandiose stories of unrealistic romantic relationships. Merchandising for Valentine’s Day candy, flowers, greeting cards, stuffed animals, and more place pressure on men and women alike. Jewelry advertisements increase the stress as well.
It All Begins In Childhood
Children think that Valentine’s Day is one when silly cards are exchanged in their classroom. Their tradition includes making cards for parents or guardians and eating candy hearts with simple sayings like, “Be Mine.”
As people grow into their teen years, girls yearn for the perfect Valentine. Teenagers often experience bittersweet angst and have expectations that can be unrealistic. Frequently, girls wander through the stores looking at all of the specific items on display, longing to receive one or more as gifts.
Peer-pressure can overstimulate the need to have an ideal Valentine’s Day. Today, people share everything on social media. Unfortunately, the reader does not know if the post is factual or embellished. Psychology Today explains that it is not unusual to compare their day with what they read.
These comparisons can lead to dissatisfaction about our own way of celebrating, even if it was perfectly enjoyable and satisfying in the moment.
When girls become women, they long for more romantic cards, chocolates, flowers, and jewelry. Men, too, have expectations. However, many complain they do not know the best way to celebrate this often stressful holiday.
Problems With Valentine’s Day
The celebration is overrun with expectations, which are often unrealized. No matter what person’s relationship status is, there are pitfalls.
- If single, a person could spend that day missing an ex or thinking about an unrequited attraction. Sometimes looking back can cause unhappiness and leave one thinking about the “what ifs.”
- If in a new relationship, especially if this is the first Valentine’s Day for the couple. Is the four-letter-L-word going to be shared? Is there going to be a surprise? There are stressors about what kind of card to buy. Should it be funny or mushy?
- If a couple is fighting the day can magnify the problems between the two. Because of the over-importance placed on Valentine’s Day, it is hard to spend time with one another if there are obstacles to happiness.
- If the relationship has lost its spark, the holiday can be a cruel reminder of the failed romance.
- Even if a couple is happy and loving, stressors can still creep in and cause concern. Perhaps there is concern about letting one another down.
Valentine’s Day has become a marketing marvel. Relevant magazine writer, John Weirick states the holiday was not always about money, but about 100 years ago it “was highjacked to turn a profit.” Moreover, this inadvertently has turned the holiday into “singleness awareness day.”
He makes another interesting observation about romance always taking the spotlight. The holiday focuses less on the day to day successes of relationships. The hard work spouses do taking care of children, and their partnership is neglected. Weirick writes: “We have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but these days get much less buzz than Valentine’s. Brotherly and sisterly affection are rarely worth mentioning.” He says it is highly unlikely that the month leading up to Friendship Day, Aug. 3, is not filled with commercials and merchandising.
Tips to Survive Valentine’s Day
There are several things a person can do to avoid any stressors that occur during the days leading up to and after Valentine’s Day.
- Treat the day like any other by removing the label. Avoid fantasizing about the perfect holiday.
- Take time to acknowledge painful emotions; about half an hour. Then plan to have a good day.
- If there is a disagreement with a partner, “take responsibility for your contribution and your feelings.” Apologize. Do not demand or expect an apology, as this can cause resentment to build.
- Let go of expectations and be open to surprises from the universe or spouse.
- Choose creativity when thinking about what to give a loved one. Avoid being seduced by traditions.
- “Whatever you do, be real.” Instead of trying to hide feelings be authentic.
Most importantly, remember that Valentine’s is only one day a year. It is acceptable to ignore the holiday exists.
By Cathy Milne
PsychCentral: 6 Tips to Avoid Valentine’s Day Traps
Relevant: 5 Problems With Valentine’s Day
Psychology Today: How Valentine’s Day Is Ruining Relationships
Featured Image Courtesy of Wyatt Fisher’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of Paul Cross’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of tetsuo shimizu’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License