I like Valentine’s Day as a whimsical celebration that brightens up a cold mid-February day. It provides the perfect excuse to temporarily break any New Year’s resolutions to swear off sugar, and instead happily indulge in a decadent square of salted caramel chocolate. Yet, for many people, Valentine’s Day results in tears and tantrums. In fact, over half of women say they would end their relationship if they didn’t get something.
Isn’t that blowing things just a little out of proportion?
Admittedly, it’s hard not to get carried away when there are so many reminders to make Valentine’s Day a big deal. Whether it’s being bombarded by advertising or heart-shaped velvet boxes of chocolate at the check-out counter, Valentine’s Day is hard to ignore. And, as evidenced by the more than 13 billion dollars’ consumers spend annually, many people embrace this occasion!
So, how can one put this day into perspective? Here is my take!
Who got the biggest bouquet of red roses? The largest assortment of artisanal chocolate? A diamond ring? It’s virtually impossible not to compare our own lives to others’, especially because others’ lives are so visible via social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Research shows that this type of comparison often results in negative emotions, like depression. Furthermore, comparing ourselves on social media is even more damaging psychologically than when we compare ourselves in real life.
So, if you are prone to jealousy or depression scrolling through Facebook (or other social media) after seeing the curated happy lives of others, it’s probably best to unplug. The only calculations you should make are how your own relationship stacks up to the criteria that matters most to you.
Money ≠ Love
People, on average, spend a lot on Valentine’s Day—well over a $100. Cards, candy, flowers, and jewelry can add up! It’s not a good idea to buy into the belief that a partner who showers you with pricey experiences (a surprise trip to Paris) or purchases (a Birkin bag) is any more devoted to you than someone with a more modest approach to Valentine’s Day.
In fact, research shows that those who place too much emphasis on material things run a higher risk of future break-up. In an earlier eHarmony Canada post, Toronto relationship therapist Susan Valentine said: “Grand gestures or gifts can risk replacing genuine connection and intimacy.”
Remember, a thoughtful hand-written card takes more effort than plunking down a credit card!
Don’t Be Rash
Valentine’s Day is a romantic occasion and it can be hard not to get carried away by the spirit of the moment. Whether this is breaking the bank by spending way too much on an expensive bottle of champagne at a fancy restaurant (and having to survive on Kraft dinner for the next three months) or popping the question before you are really ready for a long-term commitment, thinking with your head (not only with your heart) may serve you well.
If you need more convincing, one study found that those who married on Valentine’s Day were more likely to divorce down the road than those who married on “ordinary” days. And, partners who married on this special day were less similar in age and education than couples who did not marry on special days.
Valentine’s Day is fun as long as you don’t take it too seriously. Try to keep things in perspective—it’s just one of many, many days of love.