The Great Valentine's Meltdown
Love is in the Air
Love is in the Air
Christmas is over and gone, and for a few short weeks, you take a break from gift giving, sugar and holidays. The New Year offers a clean, fresh start, and you hunker down, go on a diet, evaluate your finances and get down to business.
Suddenly, you look out the window and it's Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil is glaring out of his gopher hole, searching in vain for his shadow, predicting the sudden onset of spring, or the lingering doldrums of winter.
February? That mean's only two short weeks until Valentine's Day. You frantically wonder what exquisite gift you can purchase to prove your love to your sweetheart. And, inside, you secretly wonder with anticipation what great gifts your honey will present you to prove undying love, affection and adoration.
Instantly you are swept into daydreams of chocolates and rose petals, diamond jewelry, a marriage proposal, a weekend at the beach, breakfast in bed, and red satin sheets twisted around your bodies.
And if you're single, then you likely find yourself filled with dread as endless marketing campaigns tout all the benefits of being in a relationship. You'd rather just bury your head in the sand until the end of February.
Hold on. When did Valentine's Day become so laden with expectation?
What can you do to experience the bliss of love, without the let down of unrealistic expectations? And can you experience said bliss with yourself? Is it even possible to feel loved if you don't have a significant other?
This article will help you wade through the morass of Valentine's Day expectations and come to a place of love. For others and for yourself.
You Can Choose
Unrealistic Expectations Create Misery
A great Buddhist truth, and a lesson still relevant for most of us today, is that pain is inevitable, while suffering is optional. You have the option to choose your own happiness, in spite of pain. The key is managing your expectations. Whether it is facing an upcoming holiday, such as Valentine's Day, your birthday or Christmas, manage your expectations. Be realistic.
As soon as you expect people to behave in a certain way, or you expect a situation to have a specific outcome, you are setting yourself up for misery. Sure, it might hurt if your lover forgets your birthday. But take a step back. Does that mean he doesn't love you? Or could it mean that he's been busy at work? It hurts, yes. But you choose whether to wallow in misery.
Yeah, it sucks to be alone during any holiday. But are you really alone? If nothing else, you have the awesome company of your best and longest friendship, that with yourself. Being alone doesn't mean being unhappy. Your own expectations determine your satisfaction.
Instead of setting up expectations for your happiness, you could choose to let it go. Release your desire to control others or control situations. Allow yourself to go with the flow, whatever comes along.
And above all, choose happiness, not only for Valentine's Day, but every day. You don't have to let anyone or anything ruin your day.
What do You Expect?
What is your idea of a perfect Valentine's celebration?
Simple, Inexpensive Valentine Craft
When I was a homeschool mom of six kids, I wanted to make Valentine's Day seem special, without the shoe box crafts.
During the first two weeks of February, I would purchase a tablet of construction paper. Each morning, I would make a card for each of my children and my husband. I would usually write one thing I loved about them. At breakfast I would hand out the cards. At first, my children were embarrassed. By the end of the first week, though, they looked forward to seeing what mom would say.
It was a fun tradition that made them happy, and it didn't cost much. It also reminded me of how much I loved them, and all the unique things about each one of them that I really valued.
You can continue this tradition after the kids are gone, leaving a note for your partner in unexpected places. Let them know you care!
If you aren't in a relationship and you don't have children, you can still share your love with others and with yourself. Make an unexpected treat for your friends. Make cards for those friends who mean the most to you. Make yourself a card, every single day for two weeks, and each day, write down something you appreciate about yourself. Be the kind of friend and partner to yourself that you wish others would be for you. Your own validation and compassion go a long way to reinforcing positive emotions.
Not Make or Break
Many people place unrealistic expectations on Valentine's Day. They figure it is the one day of the year when they can prove to the entire world just how deeply and truly they are loved. For many people, this is the "be all, end all" holiday, when they determine how deeply they are loved. People use it as a "make or break" watermark to determine whether a relationship is salvageable.
But is that what Valentine's Day is for? What is the purpose, and what should you reasonably expect during this so-called holiday?
When we were kids, we'd spend weeks thinking about the class list, and the perfect Valentine to give to each student in the class. It wasn't a matter, back then, of leaving some people out, and only giving cards to your best friends. It was about finding the perfect card for each person in homeroom, and signing your name with just the proper flare to send the right message. Too many swirls could seem too lovey.
We would spend an entire day creating a Valentine's Box out of an old shoe box, lace, craft paper and Elmer's Glue. The classroom was a buzz of noise and excitement as students decorated and colored their boxes perfectly, to receive the Valentine's bounty.
The Valentine's party was always an eye-opener. HI-C punch in clear plastic cups, heart shaped cookies baked by stay-at-home mom's, and candy conversation hearts, with messages that could be hand delivered anonymously to the cute boy on the other side of the room, when he was at the drinking fountain. After the snacks, the boxes would be torn open, to reveal just exactly who had feelings and who didn't.
Of course, there was the rich kid, whose parents brought full-sized candy bars to accompany the cards. And there were the poor kids, who used lined Big Chief tablet paper and crayons to create their own cards. Somewhere in between, the rest of the class sorted through superhero's and princesses and wild animal cards, looking for that special message from that certain someone.
Most cards from boys simply had their name, usually printed in block letters at the bottom. Sometimes they remembered to put the name of the intended recipient on the card itself, although usually it was scribbled on the envelope. The girls spent hours picking the perfect message to match their feelings for each person. Not too friendly, for those they didn't really like. Adding a little heart near their name for the ones they especially loved.
No one really knew the purpose of Valentine's Day, way back then. It was a good day in the middle of winter to have a party on a Friday. It was also a good day to secretly reveal your undying love to your pre-teen crush.
The holiday originated as a Roman celebration of fertility, in which women were paired off with men. Not very romantic. Two men, both named Valentine, were executed by the Roman Emperor Claudius II on February 14, in different years. Finally, the Catholic Church honored their martyrdom by proclaiming the celebration of St. Valentines Day.
As adults, we have saddled a simple holiday with meaning far beyond the original intention. People place great expectation on proof of love. Valentine's Day has become a holiday to prove to everyone around you that you really are lovable.
You get proof; chocolates, flowers, jewelry, cards. This proves that you are loved and that you are lovable. And if you don't get those gifts, then what does that prove? The lack of validating external rewards can lead a person to break off a relationship, or to sink into depression, doubting their own value as a person and partner.
Be My Funny Valentine
Women Set Themselves Up
It seems like most pressure falls to men. They are expected to visit the jewelry store and purchase the perfect diamond ring, earrings and necklace. Then, they need to remember to get the perfect card. And don't forget the perfect chocolate covered pecans, with caramel in the center, in a red velvet box, with a perfect red bow. And the flowers. You cannot forget the flowers. The perfect long-stemmed red roses, in a large crystal vase, delivered at work, preferably while your girl is in a conference with a lot of people, who will all "ooh" and "aah" over how lucky she is to have such a wonderful guy in her life, who obviously loves her so much more than anyone else.
That is the unspoken, unrealistic expectation that women bring into adulthood. What's a guy to do?
Let Go of Expectation
Men Don't Usually Get Their Hopes Up
A man, on the other hand, is a much simpler creature. He's hoping he doesn't screw up too badly, and piss her off. He's hoping that they can have a nice dinner together, and maybe share a bottle of wine. He's hoping, but not expecting, that maybe he'll get lucky after dinner.
Men are basically simple. Not stupid, but not conniving either. If they say they love you, then chances are, they love you. He wants you to be happy. Unfortunately, many women want to make a game of their happiness, which includes making the man guess how to make her happy.
A man on Valentine's Day hopes he'll remember to do something nice for his woman. And if he forgets, he just hopes she won't be too mad. And he'll try to make it up to her, if he can figure out what would work.
A man just wants to love his woman and have her love him back, without having to jump through a bunch of hoops. At the end of the day, he wants her to know that he loves her, and he wants to feel secure that she loves him too. And, he's still hoping for a little action.
Set Realistic Expectations
Real Gift Ideas
Real Dinner Ideas
Real Entertainment Ideas
Buy flowers and create an arrangement
Make a nice dinner together at home
Choose a movie that you've both been wanting to see
Make a card, express what you really love about your Valentine
Take your Valentine out, and celebrate in public
Go to a movie, and kiss in the back row
Bring home some lacy lingerie
Skip dinner, open a bottle of wine and eat chocolate
Try on that new lingerie light some candles
"Alice, why are you crying?" BEAUTIFUL Performance
How to Avoid a Valentine's Melt Down
With all of these expectations floating around, how do you avoid a holiday melt down? First of all, be realistic. This is for both men and women. And it applies whether you are in a relationship or single.
Women, get your act together. Pull your big girl panties up, and say hello to the real world. Men, suck it up, too. Take a deep breath and face the world as it is, not as you wish it would be. This goes for everyone.
Advertisers and merchants make money from your misery. They create false hope and false reality. They tell you that if your man really loved you, then he would buy you things, and do things for you on Valentine's Day. Stop buying their nonsense. Grow up and get real. And for men, it is no better. Not every woman looks like a supermodel, who is hungry to get you in bed. Women have feelings and want to be loved, not just used. It's time for both men and women to get real, to deal with what is.
The truth is ladies, if you have a man who loves you, he loves you every day, not just on Valentine's Day. The truth is, most men have a lot on their minds, just like you do. And they don't always remember holidays and such. It is not a priority. If it is really important to you that he do a specific thing, purchase a specific ring, or a certain type of flower, then tell him. Even if your man is a genius, he probably can't read your mind. If you want dinner at a certain restaurant, then make the reservation and tell him, so he knows it's been taken care of. As for you men, if your woman makes a request or a suggestion, try to honor it. She's asking because she wants you to do something. As long as it is within your power, do what you can.
Don't pout or whine or talk badly to your friends. Just take care of it, and on the flip side, tell your partner what you want. Communication is the key to successful relationships, and if you aren't willing to communicate your needs, then how can he or she meet them for you? Dropping hints is not the same as communicating. Be honest about your expectations and desires. If you can't be honest with your partner, then why are you in a relationship?
And as far as meeting a man's needs and expectations, women, you are in the driver's seat here, as well. A man just wants to be loved. He wants to feel your skin against him. He wants to hold you and kiss you and love you. If you are pouting and mad, how can you meet his needs?
The answer is, you can't. A woman controls when the couple has sex. You have all the power, and by default, you have the responsibility to meet his needs. Most men are pretty clear when it comes to having sex.
They want it. They think about it. They hope for it. And they know that if they screw up, they won't be getting it. So, women, take the bull by the horns and give him what he wants for Valentines day. It won't cost you much, and he will be happy for days.
Both partners in a healthy relationship have several responsibilities. The first is to truthfully communicate your own needs. The second is to meet your partners needs to the best of your ability. Be open, be honest, and share yourself. That is the key to avoiding emotional meltdowns, whether during a holiday or any other day.
Finally, if you are not in a relationship and feel down in the dumps over Valentine's Day, then do something about it. First, do you really want to be in a relationship? Be honest with yourself. Most people are exactly where they want to be. So don't be miserable. Buy yourself something nice. Do something fun. Invite other single friends to join you. Enjoy your space and your peace of mind.
The Key to Happiness
The bottom line, whether you are speaking about Valentine's Day, or just your relationship in general, is to give.
Give of yourself. Give of your talents. Give of your time. Think about what your partner values, and give them that. It doesn't cost any money to give of yourself. Stop focusing on what you get, and focus on what you can give.
Be honest with yourself and your partner. Communication is the key to a successful, happy relationship. And being honest with yourself is the only way to find true happiness. You are responsible for your own happiness. So take a moment, be realistic about your expectations, and realize that external factors can never satisfy your soul.
True happiness comes from finding contentment in each moment, and only you can make yourself happy.
Even After All This Time...
Look For Love
Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate the love in our lives. It is a time to look around and notice that you are surrounded every day by love.
Sometimes, it's easy to overlook what is right in front of your face. It's easy to feel sorry for yourself, alone and marginalized. This Valentine's Day, rather than wishing for things in your life to be different, take a look around you, and spend some time being thankful for what you have.
You are completely surrounded by love. Whatever your religious or spiritual leanings, you are surrounded by love. Take a moment and allow yourself to feel it. You might wonder what it means, to feel that kind of love.
There is a saying by the great poet Hafiz of Shiraz, "Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth,'You owe me.' Look what happens with a love like that. It lights up the whole sky."
There is a deep and abiding love, that lights the sky. Birds sing. Flowers blossom. Snowflakes shimmer. That energy is the love that fills the entire world and will fill you, if you allow it. Take a deep breath. Feel yourself completely filled and surrounded by that beauty. Let it be. Let it happen. Allow yourself to float. Surrender to the love that surrounds you.
When you have become completely immersed, then begin to look around you, at the people who surround you. Your friends, coworkers, family, and loved ones. These people are in your life for a reason. Share yourself with them. Give of yourself. Offer your love, even without words. Be kind. Smile. That is how you share the love that you have been given.
You Hold the Key
In the end, you are responsible for your own happiness, and ultimately, for basking in the love that surrounds you. No one can make you happy. You choose to be happy. You choose to appreciate and celebrate the love in your life. You get to define exactly how your life turns out.
If you don't feel loved, or you don't see love in your life, then you have a choice to create it. Breathe deeply and celebrate the fact that you are alive. That in and of itself speaks of a great love. Now, be kind, to yourself and the people you encounter today.
Manage your expectations and celebrate your life. In this manner, you will find great love.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2016 Deborah Reno