A Healthier Approach To Romantic Well-Being 💌
Perhaps the most polarizing American holiday, the day of love also seems to be widely hated. Couples feel pressure to make the day extra special, singles are bombarded with reminders of their single-ness, and all of us are expected to spend money on flowers, cards, and those little teddy bears holding a stuffed heart.
Many couples therapists have grown to dread February 14th. For couples who are already struggling, Valentine’s Day can often serve as a spotlight on already-existing difficulties and a reminder of what is missing. And for that matter, being single on Valentine’s Day can feels especially difficult for the same reasons.
The pressure to express and receive romantic love can feel inescapable. Even beyond Valentine’s Day, media campaigns, social media, and pop culture constantly pressure us to prioritize romantic love, dictating what a healthy relationship looks like. This kind of external pressure can be complicated by family dynamics and expectations, LGBTQ-specific issues, and even pressure that we put on ourselves.
As always, we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way.
Wherever you fall on the love/hate spectrum when it comes to Valentine’s Day, it’s always a good time to remind ourselves what true romantic well-being is all about. Looking beyond the distorted advertising portrayals of romance, and the societal expectations made all the more visible in February, we can discover romance that is centered around respect, healthy intimacy, and communication. We can tap into our deeper preferences for what romantic relationships mean to us.
Remind yourself that your relationship is not defined by one day. But if this one day does bring up significant negative emotions for you, that is often a sign to look deeper. Maybe there are other areas of your life that require some TLC, like your emotional well-being, your spirituality, or your non-romantic relationships. If you’re singe, the feelings that arise in you when seeing other people express romantic love can be an opportunity to learn more about yourself and what is important to you.
It’s also important to remember that pressure isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, a little pressure can help bring some life into a relationship that has become rote. For some people, Valentine’s Day is a welcome reminder to re-focus on someone that is important to you (romantically or otherwise) and celebrate the love you share.
And hey, if you’re into flowers and cute V-Day cards, by all means — go for it. Give yourself permission to experience the holiday in whatever ways bring you the most joy. If you’re in a relationship, this might entails communicating with your partner about each of your expectations around romantic gestures and Valentine’s Day.
Above all, remember to be patient with yourself. It’s not always easy to go against the grain.
Write Your Own Script This V-Day
Dr. Joy, the queen of “going against the grain,” gives us permission to tap into what we truly want out of our romantic lives this Valentine’s Day.
“I always hope to inspire folks to to select your truth, rather than just automatically take what the world is giving you to be true or giving you to be the right way. Because when you don’t, you find yourself pressured, because you think you’re supposed to do something, and you’re doing it because someone else said and because you think most people are doing it. So I would just say when we talk about the word ‘pressure,’ whether it’s Valentine’s Day or anything else, a solution to relieving pressure in every scenario possible is to become a critical thinker and to build your courage to be willing to write the script of life for yourself, write your truth for yourself.“