It seems as if every year there is a debate going on as to whether or not Valentine’s Day is a holiday to actually invest in. Aside from claims that Valentine’s Day is just a marketing opportunity for greeting card and florist companies, many people dread the idea of Valentine’s Day because it inevitably reminds people of their relationship status and histories.
Indeed, Valentine’s Day is not intentionally designed to trigger disappointment in people who have not been “successful” in their love lives. Nor is it made to reward people who have found themselves in a romance. Valentine’s Day could easily be considered one of the most subjective occasions to take part in, however, it undoubtedly causes strong reactions in both people who are currently in relationships AND people who are single.
For starters, Valentine’s Day can come off as being exclusive or solely relevant to couples. Single people often feel isolated, unhappy, or even envious of those who are able to “celebrate” this holiday with cliché gifts and special dinner dates. Learning about the plans a couple may have arranged for Valentine’s Day may leave a single person questioning their sense of self worth and wondering why there is not someone in their lives who wants to make them feel special. It can also cause someone who is not typically focused on his or her own love life to reflect on the past, forcing unnecessary self-evaluations and comparisons with others’ relationship efforts.
On the other hand, being in a relationship on Valentine’s Day can ignite anticipation and pressure for both partners. These two emotions are rooted in expectations that each partner may or may not have for this holiday. For instance, perhaps a woman has been looking forward to Valentine’s Day for weeks, with an excitement for every component of the day- what she’ll wear, what her significant other will give her as a gift, where the two will go to dinner, what their cards will say, etc. And while she is counting down the days until she will be reminded of how happy her significant other makes her, her partner may be in a totally different mindset. Her partner may believe that the holiday is overdone and not as special as she considers it to be. Her partner may feel pressure on Valentine’s Day to not “mess up” or jeopardize the future of the relationship. Or her partner may show no interest in the day, causing a great deal of disappointment and frustration for that woman.
So this year, whether Valentine’s Day means something to you or not, remember- YOU have the choice to celebrate your relationships at any point during the year, not just one (very publicized) day.
Danielle Adam, PARC Blog Editor