The Hidden Face of Valentine’s Day: Exploring the Flip Side – Okay. It’s February. And the thing February is most known for in American culture is Valentine’s Day. The day of honoring romantic love.
For people who just recently fell “in Love,” this can be a fun and enjoyable time of celebration. And that’s wonderful indeed.
As a well-seasoned Licensed Mental Health Therapist providing help for individuals and couples, I have come to see our earmarking of Feb 14th from a different viewpoint. As ALL special occasions, it is, of course, just another way advertisers market i.e., attempt to manipulate and entice you to purchase cards, flowers, chocolates, etc. That’s nothing new. But I am focusing this article on the emotional effects that Valentine’s Day can and does have on millions and millions of people. Perhaps a more realistic view of this famous day.
Due to the vast amount of attention our American culture gives to Feb 14th, it unfortunately perpetuates a myth. That myth is: that we all should be in a partnered, intimate relationship with someone and if we are not, there is something “wrong” with us. Therefore, if we are single, we can be seen as suspect, damaged and in some way… less than. This attitude can be so strong that people think they need to stay in whatever partnership they are in, EVEN IF that relationship is toxic or detrimental to their emotional well-being. I see it often, especially with women. After all, for thousands of centuries, male-controlled society (and therefore some religions) has espoused that a woman is only “complete” if she is married to a man and has children. Because of this, women have been trapped and emotionally enslaved until very very recently in the story of humankind.
The wonderful thing is that this unhealthy, unrealistic expectation has been eroding. This is evidenced by research showing that now, more women than ever before in history are choosing to be single and not partner up. AND if they choose to partner, they are going about it very differently by being extremely wise, selective, and being very adamant that they don’t turn their life over to the other person in any way. They are choosing their own space, their own career and their own life of daily independence.
Hurray that this change is now being reflected in our celebration of Valentine’s Day evidenced by the new designation of things like “Palentines Day” where single women invite their best friend(s) out to a special dinner on Feb 14. This change has been brought about BY women claiming their own power and is a wonderful progression of health and well-being not only for themselves but for society as a whole.
So I want to applaud any of you, no matter your gender identity…who are choosing to honor yourself and NOT buy into the unhealthy myth that couplehood is always preferable to being single. And keep in mind, if any 2 people decide to get into a relationship, that relationship will only be as healthy as the 2 INDIVIDUALS who make up that pairing. I see this proven over and over in the couples counseling I have been providing for many decades.
For all of you who are single out there: enjoy this holiday alone or with friends.! Remember good friendship is the bedrock of all significant relations on earth. Don’t buy the standard old Valentine’s Day myth. Instead, try this: celebrate LOVE. All love includes self-love, as well as the love of pets and friends. If we look at it from this perspective, February 14th can most definitely be a fun and enjoyable day for EVERYONE.
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