Valentine’s Day has been less than a bouquet of roses and box of chocolates for me. This holiday is over-rated and as a Courtship and Relationship Coach, I should be painting an uplifting picture of Valentine’s Day. But in the interest of keeping it real, here’s how I feel about this manufactured holiday.
When Valentine’s Day was humiliating, embarrassing and a let-down
You know those distinct moments in time where you feel deeply humiliated, embarrassed and let down – the kind where you clearly remember that makes you feel bad about yourself? That was me, on Valentine’s Day, when I was 29, 38 and 43 years old.
At 29, I was infatuated with a guy who led me to believe his feelings were mutual. Blinded by infatuation, I dismissed away these red flags — a fiancée who had recently broken up with him, finding out he was moving when I saw a For Sale sign in front of his house just a month after we met, me flying out to visit him for the weekend at his messy apartment with no food, and me initiating much of the contact.
Even after those red flags and him making less and less effort, I sent him a care package for Valentine’s Day that included a pair of sexy underwear. I felt humiliated and insignificant when there was nothing in return from him… except for a lackluster phone call that left me feeling even more humiliated because I had put myself on a limb even when my inner wisdom was telling me to do otherwise.
At 38, I started dating a great guy at the end of January. He invited me over for Valentine’s Day where he cooked me dinner. It was the sweetest gesture and as we were eating dinner, I felt a gush of blood soak my pants and his chair. To my horror and embarrassment, Aunt Flo decided to join us on that special day.
I found myself dashing to the restroom and texting him to explain what had happened. He was a gentleman about the situation and lent me his sweatpants. But it was hard to shake the embarrassment and relax because at that time, my periods were super heavy and I never knew when the gush was going to happen. So instead of feeling relaxed, I felt on edge.
At 43, I anticipated a man I dearly loved proposing to me on Valentine’s Day. We were two plus years into our relationship and had talked about marriage. The proposal I anticipated didn’t happen and instead of believing it was going to happen, I was let down and it showed in my response. I felt bad about the way I responded and he didn’t feel good about me in that moment.
Why I have an aversion to Valentine’s Day
I tend to have an aversion to holidays and occasions that feel manufactured by society, like Valentine’s Day, because they cause high expectations of how things should be, put unnecessary pressure on ourselves and others, and make us feel bad. (In fact, as I’m writing this post, I’m feeling pressured. With February 14th just 3 days away, I still don’t have a nice gift for my husband.)
Many people have the ridiculous notion that February 14th is the one time of year where they have to express their love properly. Women especially, place too much weight on how their partner should express their love, and if it doesn’t happen that way, disappointment and conflict end up being the central theme of their Valentine’s Day.
While TV commercials and glossy ads may try to convince you otherwise, the reality is, there’s no need to have such high expectations about this one day. In a truly healthy relationship, you and your partner are showing your love for each other throughout the year, in little ways (and sometimes big ways).
How to learn about yourself from Valentine’s Day
The thing about Valentine’s Day is we get to learn about ourselves because it amplifies feelings and emotions that are already within us, and gives us the opportunity to resolve them.
For instance, feeling pressured to come up with a nice gift for my husband also happens when his birthday and Christmas comes. If I examine that more closely, I see there’s a bit of a perfectionistic attitude about wanting to choose just the right gift. One way I can resolve this pressure is to have an honest and open conversation with him about that – how that makes me feel, what I would like instead, and see what he thinks. (As a matter of fact, I’ll do that this weekend.)
So if you’re single and are feeling lonely and sad about Valentine’s Day, perhaps the greater opportunity is to learn how to truly enjoy being alone. Or if you’re in a relationship and are having high expectations, perhaps the greater opportunity is to understand where else unrealistic expectations are keeping you from what you want so you can start releasing those expectations to move towards your desires.
I’d love to know what you think about Valentine’s Day – let me know in the comments below.