Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! It’s a fun holiday to shower our family, friends and significant others with love and appreciation.
However, some people set extremely high expectations on what should happen on this day, and then later are left feeling disappointed when things didn’t go quite according to their plans. They imagined a fairytale romantic day, but instead got a watered down version that wasn’t as exciting as they thought it would be.
A few years back, there was a study done where Facebook status updates were analyzed, and it showed that right before and right after Valentine’s Day there were spikes of breakups.
So why is it that couples are more likely to breakup around this time of year? It may be due to their expectations.
How the Inner Critic Can Ruin This Holiday
Don’t let the pressure of the holiday get inside your mind. The Inner Critic can be a cruel, harsh voice in our heads. It can heighten our insecurities and bring up questions that were never there before. It can ruin Valentine’s Day for people by:
- Making them doubt themselves
- Questioning their relationship
- Attacking their partner
- Destroying the romance
Don’t let internal struggles ruin time with your companion this year or sabotage the day. Look within to figure out what is making you feel so insecure. Ask those difficult questions. Is there a deeper issue that needs to be worked on? Are there past situations that you never dealt with? If so, then take the next steps, like speaking with a professional therapist. Healing Happens Therapy in Oakland can help to begin the healing process.
How to Set Expectations for Valentine’s Day
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, some people want the works: attention, gifts, flowers, chocolates, cards, jewelry, trips, homemade thought out items, etc. But how realistic are these notions of expressing our love?
Another study found that couples that had positive expectations going into a relationship were more likely to face disappointment and problems in their relationship later down the road. While having a good mindset going into a relationship can be beneficial when it improves behavior and circumstances, having too high of expectations can be very damaging if things don’t work out the way one person expected them to.
Here are some things a couple can do before Valentine’s Day arrives to set themselves up for success:
Communicate with each other.
Don’t watch the days pass by, getting closer to the holiday without any ideas on what you want to do together. By discussing a plan-of-action and knowing what each person wants to do will help to take a lot of the pressure off. Be sure to express feelings, concerns or fears going into the holiday. If money is tight, then talk about ways you can afford to celebrate and still enjoy the day.
Head into the holiday with appropriate expectations.
Often people feel disappointed when their expectations are not met. As you discuss ideas with your partner, let them know what you’re expecting, but be realistic. It’s easy to get caught up and daydream about lavish dates that you see on TV or posts on social media, but don’t let those cloud your vision of reality. Maybe you can’t afford the Hornblower Cruises’ Romantic Valentine’s Day cruise around the bay, but you can rent some romcoms or old romantic movies, order in your favorite food and spend the evening together on the couch. It’s the time with each other that matters the most, and how you make that time special. You are worth more than just “it’s the thought that counts,” just make sure the thought is specific for you and your lifestyle and income and situation.
Don’t put a ton of pressure on the other person.
With everything else that may be going on in our busy lives, stressing over this holiday shouldn’t be at the top of our lists. And if your significant other is busy on February 14th, is sick or just in some kind of mood and doesn’t want to celebrate, then provide that flexibility for them and schedule another date night on the calendar. Show compassion and support for them just by allowing yourself to understand where they are at in that moment. Remember, not everyone gets mushy over this holiday or even remembers it, but if it’s important to you, and you have talked about it with your partner previously, then you know you’ve done your best, and life just got in the way this time. Don’t take it personally.
Worry more about what you’re giving than what you’re getting.
If you and your partner decide to give gifts this year, focus more on what you’re giving or making for them than worrying about what you’re getting. This will shift your attention from yourself to your loved one, and then you can concentrate even harder on making the day even more special for them. Studies have shown that people get more pleasure out of doing things for others than themselves.
4 Easy, Simple Ways to Express Your Love
Once expectations have been set, now is the time to think about what you’re going to do to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Here are a few simple ways to show the other person how much you love them while keeping realistic expectations.
- Create new traditions with each other. Traditions aren’t just for the big holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Couples can also start doing things together every year and make it special so they look forward to it each Valentine’s Day. Maybe it’s baking red velvet cupcakes, getting a couple’s massage, eating at your favorite restaurant, buying your favorite bottle of wine and exchanging homemade cards, or simply just taking a walk through Joaquin Miller Park. Get create and start your own new traditions.
- Ditch the “normal” routine and spice things up a bit by throwing in some curves. It can get boring doing the same things over and over. Do something different neither of you have done before, try new things, go to new places and explore. These exciting, new experiences will also help to release oxytocin (aka the love hormone) in the brain, which has the effect of bonding you to the other person. You’ll feel closer than ever and build an even stronger relationship.
- Go the extra mile and give something that has special meaning to your companion. When thinking about what to do for your companion, be sure to put yourself in their shoes and focus on their wants and desires, not yours. What may sound like a perfect gift to you may not mean the same thing to them. So think about what would make the other person happy, put a smile on their face or fill them with excitement. Be sensitive to their feelings and interests. The reward will be so much fulfilling for you to see the joy on their face.
- Express your gratitude. Some swept up in the materialism of Valentine’s Day, but what it really comes down to is being grateful for the love ones in our lives. Take a moment to express your gratitude to your partner, family and friends. Let them know how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate them. There are people out there who are not fortunate enough to have a community of loved ones around them. Close your eyes for a few minutes and allow all the wonderful memories and moments you’ve had with your family and friends over the past year to surface, relive those experiences, and then acknowledge your gratitude for them.
Have fun this Valentine’s Day and remember, it’s not about the giving or the getting, it’s about the loving!