Often when working with my counselling clients on or close to Valentine’s Day, relationship issues and/or feelings of sadness, loss, loneliness and inadequacy can come to the fore.
A client may say something like “All I see is happy couples everywhere…why can’t that happen to me? I feel so lonely…” When feelings are this strong, we sometimes only notice scenes around us that further compound a sense of isolation.
The reality is that there aren’t necessarily happy couples everywhere. When we pass people in the street, we make instant, fleeting assumptions. Most of us like to people watch don’t we?! When we are at ease and enjoying some time out from all our daily ‘things to do’, it can be an amusing pastime to watch people walk by and wonder where they are going, why and with whom. We are less inclined to compare ourselves in some way as we are transfixed and lost within temporary escapism.
However, when we are experiencing emotional turmoil, the couple walking by with shopping bags and sharing a light conversation are seemingly untouched by emotional difficulty and we may imagine them to have the most perfect and loving relationship. The reality could be very far from this ideal.
So, if Valentine’s Day is a difficult day for you, for whatever reason, keep in mind that your perception of other people’s relationships can trick you into feeling inadequate in some way or that everyone else is happier than you. You are absolutely not alone in hoping February 15th arrives quickly!
In the meantime, here are a few 'tips for singles' to help you deal with Valentine’s Day and make it a day for you:
You’ve already had a few weeks of being exposed to cards, gift ideas, flower displays and store banners whilst trying to do your weekly food shop!
If you really don’t want to see an outpouring of gushy love messages on a large scale, then perhaps avoid logging on to the social media websites on February 14th! Remember what I wrote above about perception and thinking that everyone is happier than you...people can come across as though they have perfect relationships on social media which could be far from the truth.
There is no doubt that social media can amuse us and help us to stay connected to others, however it is healthy to regularly review your friends lists on Facebook and other social media sites. Unfriend or unfollow those people or pages that evoke negative feelings for you.
If you have a hobby, interest or are a regular at the gym or a local exercise class, then consider making this activity a part of your day.
You could be really indulgent if you have annual leave or holiday to take - consider taking the day off work and curling up with a good book or film.
Do you have a friend, family member or colleague who has no plans on Valentine’s Day? Maybe they are newly single or their partner can’t be with them for some reason. Consider making plans for some company. You could cook a nice meal or order a takeaway or go to the cinema and make an evening of it.
You may know someone who is alone or had a difficult few months. Perhaps an elderly neighbour. Consider inviting them to you for a cup of tea or give them a small gift of spring flowers or a card. Bringing a smile to someone else’s face can help to increase a sense of positive well being and help you to feel good about yourself.
If you want to be in a relationship, then have a think about what you want from a relationship. How have your past romantic relationships been? Have you reflected on how these relationships ended...any themes? By being able to self reflect, you can become more aware of what is going on in your relationships and the interaction that takes place. Change and emotional growth can happen at any age.
If you want to meet someone and embark on a new relationship, think about how you could help this to happen. For example, what is your lifestyle like? Are there any small changes you can make to help you meet new people? A modern way of meeting new people is via internet dating websites and may suit you as you can communicate with people from the comfort of your own home. (Please ensure you read the safety guidance on internet dating)
So whether you are widowed, single or unhappy in your relationship, take care on Valentine’s Day. It is a day like any other. Oh and don’t forget…
You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.
Check out this funny video for some more tips for singles on Valentines Day...most of these are okay!