Whether you try to ignore it or not, Valentine’s Day is just a few days away. If you are in a relationship, then like it or not the pressure is on to do something- at a bare minimum a card and some candy. Most of us over age 40 are probably done buying into the hype of over priced flowers and expensive dinners out, but for those with a significant other they still need to be on the same page with their partners as to what is an appropriate way to celebrate this Hallmark holiday. If not, there’s no better time like the present to clear up any misconceptions about how V-Day should play out. And for those that are single, not having to deal with any of that awkwardness may indeed seem like the best gift of the season, but actually I believe we can all strive for more.
First, let’s be honest. The chances of finding a romantic love that lasts forever are pretty slim: About half of all marriages end in divorce, and of those that stay together, maybe half are happily married while the others seem to just grin and bear it either because of kids, fear of being alone or broke, or an unwillingness to make a major change to their social status. With only a 25% chance of success, it’s easy to see why so many find themselves believing they are “unlucky” when it comes to finding love.
Second, identify what you want most out of any particular holiday this year, starting with the one that is most imminent, and come up with an action plan. One of the most liberating things I’ve discovered whenever I’m not in a relationship is that I get to plan what I want most without the need to compromise. Too often, we sacrifice too much of our own wants when we are with someone, and inevitably that will lead to resentment or regret. So regardless of your single, committed, or it’s complicated status, can you just focus on what your own needs and wants for even just a moment? Visualize what you would do for yourself if it was only up to you. Then think about the steps required to actually get that done, and ask yourself whether you are really committed to implementing your action plan. I firmly believe that if you really want something, you will find a way to go for it.
Third, we all need to start small and work our way up to bigger tasks. That’s why Valentine’s Day is the perfect way to start with a simple task- do something for yourself on this holiday meant to celebrate love. It could be you buy yourself your favorite dessert, or you bake cookies to share with your friends at work. Maybe you treat yourself to a mani/pedi or buy yourself a new book or DVD to enjoy. Whatever small gesture you do for yourself, relish it. And if you focus on this act of kindness hopefully what you will realize is that the best gifts are those we give to ourselves– that includes finding gratitude in the little things and letting go of any expectations that someone else will make your day for you. Finding the power to self soothe and not dwell on whatever negative elements may be around you is a precious life skill worth developing sooner rather than later.
Whatever you do this Valentine’s Day, make sure that you take a moment to be kind to yourself. Don’t dwell on past loves, disappointing encounters or failed relationships that might feel like a complete waste of your time. The fact is we learn a lot from our failures, and most of us are usually highly motivated not to get burned again. If you can take a minute to acknowledge all the personal growth you’ve made over the years in pursuit of love, then regardless of whether you are alone or with someone, you should find ample reason to rejoice not just this week but year round. So try to make this V-Day special for you in some way, and continue to build on that with each new special occasion that arises in your life.
By Regina A. DeMeo