With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I’m reminded of an old episode of The Simpsons when the family celebrated the made up holiday Love Day—clearly a satire of Valentine’s Day, it included all my favourites; obligatory gifts, commercialism, and let-downs. I always smile at people’s reaction to my distaste for the holiday...”live and let live”, “to each their own”, and so on I’m told. And yes, certainly, for anyone who knows me, I am not one to impose my beliefs and ideals on anyone, however, I’m also rarely one to keep my opinion to myself.
Valentine’s Day in its modern form is something I just don’t get. So, in my continuous quest of self-reflection, I did some reading on the history of St. Valentine, and how the traditions of today came to be. Spoiler alert, I still don’t get it.
Let’s take a look at the psychology of all this giving and receiving. I don’t think that the motivation behind Valentine’s gift giving is quite the same as the misguided intentions I’ve spoken about regarding Christmas gift giving. Interestingly, this collection of data shows that the largest spikes in breakups happen the week before and the week following Valentine’s Day. There are likely several factors which are leading to this, all of which point to the unrealistic nature of Valentine’s Day romance.
For even the healthiest relationships, and to the detriment of some more challenging ones, the obligations that come along with the holiday can create undue stress and pressure. Namely, expectations are the largest culprit, creating grand illusions of what the perfect day should look like, what one should get as a gift, and how much effort their partner should be putting into all of this. While sometimes arbitrary, these expectations are often bred from comparisons we make amongst our peer groups, families, and most damaging of all, from the artificial lifestyles we view on our dear friend social media. So what’s the solution? Stop trying?
Saving all your love and affection for one day marked on the calendar is not an ingredient in the recipe for a successful relationship. Healthy, loving, and robust relationships require consistent attention, nurturing, and enjoyment. Learn a new skill together, take on a project as a team, explore a new vacation spot, and help one another with the housework. it is the accumulation of these, and many more year-round actions that contribute to the happiest of relationships, not the wow-factor of your Valentine’s Day endeavours.
Are my nails pink and red with hearts all over them this week? Yes. Am I going to buy a bunch of clearance heart-shaped chocolates this weekend? You bet. But my husband and I are also continuing to build one another up, turn towards each other, and show each other the same love we do year-round...except this week, while eating candy.