For some, it is better than New Year’s Eve. For others, it’s more like Groundhog Day.
For those who are alone, Valentine’s Day, which is Tuesday, just reminds you of your relationship status, which may be the result of a wise choice but not what you’d prefer. Remember, a “sense of belonging” is an important foundation on Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.”
There’s “Quirky Alone Day,” created with the help of Sasha Cagen and her great book “Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics.” It’s not against relationships. It’s about wanting what’s right for you. The celebration gets bigger every year. Now I expect it to be even more diverse and inclusive.
All those times when I wasn’t in a relationship, this would have been a good alternative to the things I remember doing. When you feel like the rest of the world has the one thing that you want most of all, and you can’t seem to find it, that makes you feel bad. No research needed — it’s a human thing, and I am sure you understand it.
So honor your relationship by all means, if you have one, and if you have single friends, know that no matter what they say, they are feeling a little uncomfortable about the whole Cupid thing. So don’t show off your presents or brag about the great time you had, but save that stuff for your coupled friends or your parents.
For those fortunate people who are in loving relationships, this can be seen as another year of overpriced flowers, pre-set menus, long waits and chocolate. Most store-bought cards don’t really express true feelings. I recommend writing one yourself, because that’s the best way to say what is really in your heart. It also means a lot more.
At the very least, if you buy a card, write something meaningful in it.
When you are in a relationship, the most important thing about the day is that you agree on how to celebrate it. My wife knows I don’t like going out on national holidays. (Birthdays and anniversaries are an exception). In any case, we have compromised and agreed to stay in, send out for dinner, watch a RomCom, and share some champagne. After that, we will both probably pass out on the couch holding hands with the animals on top of us.
That’s our idea of romance.
As long as you both get what you need from the day, it becomes a celebration. If you can’t agree on how to spend the day, and it becomes a point of contention, you need to talk about it. Things like this can turn into resentments, and too many of those can damage your relationship.
In fact, one of the best Valentine’s Day gifts you could give to the one you love is to drop some of those resentments you’ve been holding on to. It may be hard to wrap, but think about the comfort it will bring you both. Then there’s the extra love you will feel when you drop the emotional burden of something that was done or said that hurt your feelings. That’s the real truth about what happened — you got hurt, and now it would be a very healing thing if you could let it go.
Maybe a better name for Valentine’s Day would be Drop-a-Resentment Day. It would be a lot healthier for relationships, and it might even put me out of business as a marriage counselor. I’m good with that.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith is a psychotherapist in Westlake. He’s the author, most recently, of “100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence — Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too.” Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com. Follow his daily insights at www.twitter.com/BartonGoldsmith. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Saturdays and Mondays in the News-Press.