Valentine’s Day is approaching.
As a relationship coach, I find it one of the most devastating holidays we ever invented. Does anyone truly —I mean really and truly enjoy, savor and celebrate this day?
Let’s start with the people in relationship. I am going to go out on a possible politically incorrect limb, and focus on people who identify as straight women. If you are in a relationship, are you truly happy on Valentine’s Day? Or is it more like relieved? And, depending upon how long you have been in relationship, how confident and relaxed do you feel as the holiday approaches? Are you hoping, hinting, asking and/or nagging your counterpart to make something spectacular happen? Are you enjoying the process? Do you even consider whether or not your date/partner is also enjoying the experience? Do you talk about what would be a perfect way to celebrate the current state of your relationship? How are these decisions made? What is spectacular? Dinner at a restaurant when they are particularly crowded and make special red heart items so you can declare your good luck at true love on social media? Is my sarcasm a little too obvious here?
Now let’s consider the male in this scenario. How many of you really want to go out to dinner, buy flowers, chocolate or come up with something creative under the pressure of being compared to all the others and/or graded...likely not to your own standards, but by the standards of the person you are dating/married to/just met three weeks ago (likely the most challenging situation)?
To be honest, I am not so clear on what happens in the ‘other than straight’ dating world on this day. I’m pretty surprised that I don’t know, and I don’t hear much about this particular day from my gay/trans/bi friends and clients. hmmm. Note to self: Ask a few questions.
Then there are the single straight women who are not partnered. The suffering I hear about this day...its just too much. How many articles are there about taking your friends out to dinner, or going to spa day, love yourself day, all of it. In general, you are invited to feel awkward, disappointment, sadness, despair, confused or outraged on Valentine’s Day.
I’m not sure how this day got so out of hand. There is the cultural clash between the ‘comedic’ portrayal of this struggle on television and romantic comedies that generally represents the inept male figure and the dominating and emotionally unbalanced female counterpart vs. the serious romantic movies that support represent the absolutely perfect happily ever after story that must have something to do with it.
It seems like we have given up our choice about what is important to us. On this day, how many of us hand our hearts over to ‘Madison Avenue’? I’d like to remind you that the holiday isn’t actually real. It is a day declared by a few to have a particular meaning. And it is very much (over) promoted by those who financially profit from this storyline.
I know a few whose relationships are pretty much in disarray and yet, they still make plans for the holiday. If you are married and unhappy to some degree, do you still go out/buy candy/flowers? I’m confused about this. Is it an actual choice? Do you think about what needs are served by what activity you do on this day?
Of course, if you experience true celebration and excitement and pleasure from making plans for the day, then have at it. Any day and any way that you can incorporate celebration into your life is something I support wholeheartedly!!
Take your Heart Back!
Those of you not in relationship. Please remember that February 14 in America is just like February 13 and February 15. No need to make up a story about ‘what should be’ so that you suffer (just a little more) on this particular day. How you focus your attention is something that is within your capacity and your suffering and/or enjoyment of the day is dependent on what you choose to think about on this day. While it might be delightful to be in a relationship (only if you have some mad good communication skills), the strong feelings you may have of distress are more likely a remnant of your evolutionary history of feeling safe in a pack having a hunter partner or procreate. It is likely not actually necessary anymore.
Those of you in relationship.Please remember that the relationship you have is what it is.And that is because of what you are and aren’t doing and saying with each other.This one day doesn’t mean anything other than whatever you decide.Remember to talk with your other person and navigate together what would be a pleasant way to spend the day.Which, by the way, is what I hope you do every day???