Every February we become inundated with images of romance in the shape of hearts, roses and chocolates announcing the arrival of another Valentine’s Day. Although we may enjoy the spirit of the day – a celebration of love – it may also bring feelings of loneliness and sadness. Whether single or coupled, our life may not seem as exciting, passionate and romantic as what is portrayed in the media. We may even begin to question our relationships, or lack thereof, and wonder if there is something wrong with us or our romantic life.
In reality, the problem doesn’t lie with us; the problem lies in the unrealistic fairytale images. While some lucky few will meet their perfect match, fall in love and live “happily ever after”, most of us will have more than one relationship, more than one heartbreak and times when we are single and “alone”. Our 50 percent divorce rate is testament to this as we all try to navigate this crazy thing called love.
This year, when February 14th comes around, consider using these 8 tips for surviving the Valentine’s Day blues. You may find yourself enjoying the holiday with greater perspective and love in your heart.
Tip # 1: Live in reality not a fantasy world
Plenty of people see Valentine’s Day as a commercialization of love for the benefit of florists, candy shops, gift stores and restaurants. Don’t fall into the hype that everyone is paired off and happy in their relationship because there are many people who are happily single while others are unhappily married. Avoid getting caught up in the fantasy of fairy tale love that doesn’t serve you in any way.
Tip # 2: Accept that love always comes with risk
If you are single and feeling lonely maybe it’s time to put yourself out there. Are you avoiding a relationship for fear that it might not work out? It’s impossible to fall deeply in love when you are living in fear that your love might end. This fear sabotages the relationship before it ever gets off the ground. Love is truly a leap of faith, but consider it one worth taking if you want to experience life’s greatest pleasure.
Tip # 3: Focus on your relationship with yourself first
The most important relationship you will ever have is the relationship that you have with yourself. Until you nurture this relationship, none of your other relationships will survive. Take time for self-care. Get a massage, cook a nice dinner for a close friend, get some exercise, learn something new; but most of all, love yourself first. And remember, people are naturally drawn to those who exude self-confidence and inner joy.
Tip # 4: Learn from past relationships
True romantic success is a process of learning through trial and error. We are not born knowing how to be a great partner or how to choose one. We learn this from our experiences and over time we develop the wisdom for choosing better mates. It is not about what we have lost, but what we have learned that’s important.
Tip # 5: Focus on the love you have in your life right now
Instead of over-focusing on the love you feel is missing from your life, turn your attention toward the things you already have. Focus on appreciation and gratitude for the love that is around you. Kiss your children, your sweet grandmother or your dog who loves you unconditionally.
Tip # 6: Don’t compare your current or future relationships to unrealistic ideals
In fairy tales, everyone who is kind and good find their happy ever after. Some people believe if they just find “the one”, their perfect match, they can ride off into the sunset. Setting up unrealistic expectations can lead to greater heartache than an actual breakup because it leaves people feeling constantly let down.
Tip # 7: Let your partner know what you are hoping for
Letting your partner know what you hope for during this holiday is not unromantic, it’s called good communication. Maybe Valentine’s Day is your favorite holiday, but your partner thinks it’s too commercial. You may need to find a middle ground that works for both of you.
Tip # 8: Do something nice for someone else
Last year my young son and his classmates made and delivered Valentines for seniors in a nursing home. What a sweet way to bring in the holiday. Think of someone who could use some extra love and do something special for them. When we open our heart to others, love has a way of coming back to us ten-fold. Happy Valentine’s Day and many XOXO’s to you!
Diane Lykes is a Principal of Synergy Counseling Associates in Albany where she specializes in individual and couples counseling, educational training and clinical consultation. She can be reached at 466.3100 or l[email protected]