A UBC’s psychologist’s tips for dealing with the pressures and pitfalls of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day expectations can be a recipe for disaster, for both lovers and the lonely, says UBC’s Jason Winters, a psychologist who specializes in human sexuality.
Does Valentine’s Day raise people’s expectations?
Many feel pressure to be with somebody on Valentine’s Day. From what we know about human relationships – sexual, intimate or otherwise – the more pressure there is and the higher the expectations, the farther the distance to fall when disappointed. Valentine’s Day can be really rough in this context. For people who are single and lonely, Valentine’s Day can be a very stark and unpleasant reminder of their aloneness.
What should people do on Valentine’s Day to manage expectations?
For people in long-term relationships, it’s a good idea to determine what your partner wants. If your partner has certain expectations and those aren’t communicated, it’s setting them up for disappointment, resentment, and even worse, contempt. So communication is key. Having said that, if you’re not sure what your partner expects, it’s better to err on the side of doing something rather than not, even if it’s just a small gesture. Just make sure it’s genuine.
Any advice for people who feel lonely on Valentine’s Day?
Find something fun to do that doesn’t require a romantic or sexual partner. Surround yourself with other single friends, for example, or go see a movie with someone. Remind yourself that Valentine’s Day is a constructed holiday. There’s still the rest of the year to get lucky.
Does hooking up on Valentine’s Day take on a different meaning?
Because of the pressure that Valentine’s Day puts on people, more individuals may be open to the possibility of hooking up. But just remember that not hooking up on a day with so much cultural baggage, despite trying, can sting a bit more than usual.
Jason Winters is an instructor in UBC’s Dept. of Psychology, where he teaches a course on human sexuality.