With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, some couples may be feeling the pressure of the upcoming holiday. Despite its romantic origins, for many people, Valentine's Day can be a source of stress and anxiety. The societal pressure to have a perfect and memorable day with a partner, the financial cost of gifts and activities, and the impact of media and marketing can all contribute to feelings of stress and disappointment.
Social pressure and marketing images surrounding Valentine's Day can increase stress levels and create unrealistic expectations about the holiday.
If you’re feeling the pressure of the Valentine’s holiday, step away from social media, pay attention to when you’re being marketed to, avoid comparing yourself to others, and talk to your partner about how you’re feeling.
By embracing alternative and personalized ways to celebrate the holiday and breaking away from societal pressures, you and your partner can have a unique and meaningful Valentine’s experience.
However, despite the social pressure to have a “perfect” holiday, there are things couples can do to relieve that pressure and have an authentic and connected Valentine’s Day experience.
Social pressure of Valentine’s Day
Valentine's Day is often marketed as the most romantic holiday of the year, with images of happy couples, extravagant gifts, and candlelit dinners. These extreme and idealized expectations can create high expectations, pressure, and disappointment for those who don't have the means to live up to the commercialized standard of the holiday. This social pressure to have a perfect Valentine's Day can also lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.
Social media plays a big role in amplifying the expectations and pressures of Valentine's Day. People tend to see only the highlight reels of their friends and loved ones, which can lead to feelings of comparison and jealousy.
It's important to recognize that the version of Valentine's Day portrayed on social media and in other spaces isn’t realistic and only reflects a snapshot of some people’s reality. By reducing the focus on the commercial aspect of the holiday and focusing on authentic connection, couples can adjust their expectations and put less pressure on themselves.
Ways to lower Valentine’s Day pressure:
If you’re feeling the pressure of the Valentine’s holiday, here are some things you can do to relax and put less pressure on yourself.
Pay attention to marketing messages
Marketing is everywhere these days, from TV commercials to billboards to social media posts. Be aware of the marketing messages and images that surround Valentine's Day and try not to compare your experiences to those portrayed in the media. Remember that these images are often idealized and unrealistic. Pay attention to when you’re being marketed, especially on social media.
As the saying goes, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” With so much focus on grand romantic gestures and perfect relationships, it's easy to fall into the trap of comparing your experiences to others. Instead, try to focus on what is meaningful and important to you and your partner. Celebrate your own unique love story and embrace the qualities that make your relationship special.
Limit your social media use
Social media can be addictive and it can be hard to step away from. If you’re feeling the pressure around Valentine’s Day, consider limiting your usage or even taking a break around the holiday. Also limit your exposure to social media and ads that promote Valentine's Day, as these can increase feelings of stress and pressure. Instead, focus on positive and uplifting content that brings you joy and inspiration.
Talk to your partner
Sometimes, Valentine’s Day pressure might come about if you have an assumption about your partner’s expectations for the holiday, but does your assumption fit reality? If you think your partner wants an extravagant romantic Valentine’s Day or you feel pressured to live up to their expectations, sit down and have a conversation about it. Share your feelings with your partner and talk it through.
Tips for an authentic Valentine's Day experience
Despite the social pressures of the Valentine’s holiday, there are many things that couples can do to have an authentic and connected experience without giving in to societal norms.
Consider what Valentine’s Day means to you (and your partner)
In order to create a truly authentic and meaningful Valentine's Day, couples can benefit from reflecting on what the holiday means to them personally. Consider why you want to celebrate and what you hope to achieve through the holiday. Take time to also consider (or ask!) what Valentine’s Day means to your partner. You may have differing perspectives on this, which makes it all the more important to ensure that you’re on the same page. By taking the time to reflect, couples can ensure that their celebration aligns with their individual values and desires and that they are able to create a holiday that truly resonates with them.
Focus on your relationship
Rather than focusing on material gifts, societal expectations, or extravagant romantic gestures, focus on your partner and use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship. By taking the time to appreciate and celebrate your love for one another, you can strengthen your bond and connection without the social pressures of the holiday. Use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to reflect on your relationship and set goals for the future.
Personalize your celebration
There’s no rule that says you have to celebrate Valentine’s Day in any particular way. Instead of following traditional norms, find ways to personalize your Valentine's Day celebration to fit your unique interests. This could include a romantic picnic in the park, a movie night at home, trying out a new restaurant or recipe, playing games together, or something else entirely! You might even decide that the best way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is by not celebrating at all. Do whatever works best for you and your partner.