Even if the whole world is loved up and you’re not, you don’t have to be a sad singleton on Valentine’s Day, according to my friend and colleague Christine Webber. She’s a psychotherapist who’s just updated her book Get the Happiness Habit, so you can expect her to know what she’s talking about. Here’s what she has to say…
When you’re single, February 14 can feel like a nightmare – being one of those dates that loom large and trip you up emotionally. It’s nearly as bad as having to go to your sister’s wedding when you’re heartbroken after a relationship break up, or being forced into a family Christmas where relatives invariably – and loudly – ask if you’ve got a boyfriend.
On Valentine’s Day, everyone seems to be flaunting their flowers, their cards, and their plans for the perfect evening. Not surprisingly, you can easily allow yourself to feel a romantic failure in comparison.
But here’s the thing. How insecure, or unfeeling, must your boss be about her relationship if she has to have a Valentine’s bouquet delivered to reception rather to her own home? Maybe she sent it herself? And how many of your friends are going to be seriously out of pocket after a poorly-cooked dinner in an overrated and crowded restaurant? People’s expectations of Valentine’s Day are stratospheric; so much so that they’re nearly always disappointed. Well, you have no expectations. And no need to spend a fortune. So your situation’s not all bad!
Why not stay home on Valentine’s Day and paint the kitchen or something? But then go out with a bunch of happy, single friends on the 15th when everything is saner, cheaper and roomier.
Here’s something else to ponder. Most of us – in our fast-changing world – are going to be single from time to time. And it’s important that we view these periods of our lives as viable and productive – and not just as some sort of limbo till we fall for someone new. Individuals who place too much importance on the value of relationships are often guilty of believing that their single life can never be anything than a dilute version of the joys of coupledom.
This is dangerous thinking – particularly when people believe that they must have a partner in order to be happy. When they have those thoughts and beliefs they’re anxious about relationships even when they’re in one – because they’re constantly terrified that it might end. That anxiety generally manifests itself as neediness, which is hugely demanding on any spouse and damaging to the relationship.
So, this February, have a think about what being happy means to you. And make sure that there is plenty about your single life that is contented and joyous even though – at present – you have no romantic liaison.
When people take responsibility for their own happiness, rather than expect someone else to provide it for them – they become more mentally healthy, resilient and optimistic.
Of course, having a warm, loving partner is going to augment your levels of happiness, but he or she should not be responsible for it.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Thank you very much, Christine.
For more insights and advice on being happy, see Christine’s book Get the Happiness Habit.
You may also like to read her guest post on How to Mend a Broken Heart.
By the way, in case you’re wondering, I’ve never seen Christine look glum.