Valentine’s Day: Four Steps to Make It Hurt Less

Valentine’s Day is coming, and if there’s one thing I know about this day of red and chocolate, it’s that it can be a big let-down. Whether you are single, in a relationship, married, or divorced, it can really just be a festive time for you to beat yourself up for one reason or another.

This post is here to address some of those reasons and to remove some of their power.

Some people are going to have a hard time on Valentine’s Day because they lost someone that they love. Some are going to have a hard time because they are single, others will have a hard time because even though they are with someone, the actual celebration of the Day is going to fall short of what they want.

When there is recent trauma involved, this advice may not apply, especially if the loss is recent. Speaking to a professional would be good if you are in that situation. In the cases where someone is being let down by this day because of anything other than physical loss, the pain of Valentine’s Day is going to come down to one thing: Our expectations.

Step One: Identify Why It Will Most Likely Suck

If you are single, then why does February 14th have to suck? If you are in a relationship, and you and your partner both have to work and won’t end up with a dozen photos to paste up on Facebook at 7:45pm, does that suck? Your expectations may say that it does, but it really doesn’t.

The trick is to identify why you think Valentine’s Day might suck, and tackle them. Figure out what it is in your thought process that tells you what this day should be. Then realize that it’s all false. Every last drop. This day is subject to your decisions and values, just like every other day.

Maybe you are supposed to get a beautiful bouquet of tulips or bacon roses. Maybe you are supposed to have a fancy dinner or breakfast, mimosas, a great adventure, a romantic meal out complete with glowy pictures to put on Instagram, really great sex with fancy lace underwear and no stretch marks. These things are not love, they are not human connection, and they are not a recipe for fulfillment. They are aiming at some values that we all share, but they miss the mark in more than a couple of ways.

Step Two: Figure Out What You Value

Remember that a value is not a goal that can be pass/fail (Like, I’m going to have a fancy dinner tonight) but more of a way that you see the world (I value appreciating the taste of my meal as I eat). The values that you have about Valentine’s Day can be explored to figure out how your expectations can be questioned and your values met.

What do you value about this day and the meaning of it? Is it the love, the connection, the feeling of being loved? Is it the togethernesss, the fancy items, the sex? Whatever it is, pin it down, put it on your table of mindfulness, and look at it with an open heart.

You can get any of those things on this day whether or not you are in a relationship, whether or not you and your partner can spend time together on that day, and whether or not you are even on the same side of the world as them.

For me, this day will be slightly painful because me and my partner cannot spend it together. We will both be working in different towns, and because of my new job I can’t simply decide to take the day off and make less money in order to spend time together. I’ll be alone in a place I barely know while he works till the late hours. It’s also our anniversary. So I know it’s going to fall short in some ways of my expectations. But I also know that I can find the values that I place on it, and nourish them in new ways.

Step Three: Get Creative on Nourishing Those Values

Use your imagination. How might you nourish the value of “being loved” if there is not a partner to love you? Maybe you can call someone that you feel close with. Tell them ahead of time that you would love to talk to them for at least an hour on Valentine’s Day. If you plan now, you can have a lot of people to talk to during the day to offer and receive love and support.

Take a few hours and do whatever you want without thinking about what the people on Facebook would think about it. In fact, vow not to even mention it on Facebook. For all they know, you are too busy to post a status update because you are busy getting a massage in a Hilton Suite with your new fling. Show yourself love as you would show someone else love. We all know we have to learn how to do this for ourselves before we do it for someone else.

Buy yourself some fancy underwear and wear it around the house. Make a mimosa for fun and sip it while you watch the clouds roll by. Do something for you. It’s easy to say and it sounds cheesy and ridiculous, but take a second to really think about spending an entire hour just letting yourself be. Draw, paint, cook, dance, sit, nap, eat, pet the dog, sing the songs you liked when you were 15, make silly faces at the TV, do push-ups and count out loud in funny voices, wear your hair differently, dye it even. Do whatever you want, and do it for you.

You’ll be having more fun than people on forced dates who pause every five seconds to get the perfect picture so that their acquaintances know how much fun they’re having.

Step Four: Realize You Are Not Alone

This is the most important step. No matter what, no matter how February 14th is going to suck for you or not live up to the meagerest of your expectations, you are not alone. There is another human in the world who shares your pain. Maybe you can send love and compassion to them, since you understand what they are going through.

I hope that you all are having a great week and that if Valentine’s is going to bring any pain, that at least some of it can be averted and transformed into your own fun day that happens just the way you want it to, on your own terms, nourishing your own values, and making you smile!

Are you looking forward to Valentine’s Day?

Do you know someone who may be suffering on that day, someone that you might want to reach out to?

Do you always have fun on February 14th no matter what?


11 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day: Four Steps to Make It Hurt Less

  1. My wife and I do not celebrate Valentines Day as it is not significant in our narrative. We do not even formally celebrate personal dates (such as our wedding anniversary).

    To my mind there is nothing more special about the day we have been married for exactly X years. So we celebrate being together by being together.

  2. As always Ms. Stuart, your advice is amazing, your writing is great and your heart is very huge – and open. Your advice about Valentine’s Day is very logical and it’s great to read the interpretative information of someone such as yourself. For me, over the past three year’s Valentine’s Day has held absolutely little meaning romantically, and in the past when I was involved in a relationship, I never really treated it as anything special, and neither did my partner. True, we would often do something together, but I was always glad that she was never too interested in doing anything so outrageous either.
    I personally have often wondered why we make such a big deal about such an occasion because if we truly love someone, do we really need a 24 hour period to say and do something about our feelings? Do we not have the other 364 days (365 in a leap year) to express our feelings to the ones we love either verbally, literally or physically? Why do we need a day as an excuse to be unfathomably romantic?
    Also, I don’t know anyone who suffers on valentine’s Day. Everybody I know often has a splendid time when such an occasion annually arrives. For me, I guess I am disappointed that I will have no one to share the day with, but I often fill my Valentine’s with other activities (more often than not work or uni, but this year I’m free as a bird – dang!).
    Throughout your advice filled post you never said if your Valentine’s Day would be any good – despite the fact that you aren’t able to spend it with the person you love, I hope you make the most of it. It’s obvious you put a lot of heart into this post – just save a little for yourself as well. Take care!

    • 🙂 Aw thank you for the kind wishes! I think my Valentine’s Day will be pretty great. I felt like the post was getting long, and I was writing it while tired, but wanted to get it out there before it was too late. I think you are right that a lot of people have a great time no matter what, and then some don’t. Our society can sometimes make us feel guilty for not living up to some strange standards.
      And I agree 100,000% about what you say regarding the whole year- the whole year is a time for celebrating out love and connection to each other, Valentine’s Day just involves more cashflow to the chocolate and roses industry 🙂 Thank you so much for always reading and I hope you have a very fun work-free time on that day!

  3. Great advice Jen. I have never celebrated Valentine’s Day. For me it’s just another day. No worries and no disappointment. I have enough in my life that I don’t need a made up holiday. I’m not anti valentines day. I just prefer to treat it like any other day in my life. More people should realize if someone loves you or you love someone, you don’t need valentine’s day to prove it. Everyday should be special in some way or another. 🙂

    • I agree fully, Jackie! I love how you see the world 🙂 I think I gradually learn to let go of some of the expectations that I’ve been holding for too long in many areas, and it’s fun to sort of share that and see how many people are living free of them already!

      • As I’m older then you I’ve had more years letting go. Always glad when you post. You are a very wise woman. Keep it coming 🙂

  4. This Valentine’s Day was better with my BF because I vocalized what I want. Last year I left it in his court and although I am not a picky lady he didn’t do much in the romance department, all I wanted was “thoughtfulness” instead of “routine” like roses and a card. It’s been two years now that we have been together and he has taught me to vocalize what I want so he understands me. Simple but so many woman don’t let their men know what they want or how they feel, men are not mind readers and they are not good at picking up social clues. I learnt this from him. I politely tell him my heart’s desires and he listens and transforms that into his style and that is all I want, his effort. I didn’t get much this year which was fine, cuz he surprised me with a Hello Kitty stuffed animal which is something I wanted to start collecting, he remember I said I wanted that and got it for me.That I appreciated. Also without him asking he wrote me a love letter. This year he understood me more, and that is what matters, communicate and give and take and love each other for who they are.

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