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How to Survive Valentines Day

Last year at approximately 9:30PM on Valentines Day I was at Walgreens. I’ll never forget the image of this guy frantically running through the store towards the card aisle.

He came around the corner holding a GIANT valentine card, I mean it was HUGE. It probably cost the guy $15 and must have been the only one they had left and he’s trying to make up for something. He sprints towards the Valentine aisle, and yes, Walgreens has an entire aisle devoted to this. He makes his way to the checkout line. He’s got his heart-shaped box of chocolates, a flower he grabbed by the door and the giant card. As I stood in line behind him I said, “Did you forget?” He hung his head in shame and said, “Yea.” I could see how painful this was for him- it was painful just to watch his struggle!

I said, “Well, at least you remembered! You’re in the same boat as most other people on Valentines’, and all she really wants is to know how much you love her.” I could see the relief on his face. “Take her out to dinner, it doesn’t have to be tonight. Just tell her how much you love her. It doesn’t have to be just on this holiday.”

He thanked me and scurried off. I looked at the woman behind the register as she began ringing up my items, and she said, “Are you a relationship expert or something?” I laughed and said “No, I’m a failure expert, and I could see that one coming.”

You can’t really miss Valentines’ Day. Everything is littered with glitter and hearts this time of year. I’m romantic, and I’m all about celebrations of love, planning wedding proposals, and surprises for those I love; but I’ve never understood why we have designated only one day for love. Why? So the rest of the year we can be an asshole? But we’re going to pour on the love- this one day of the year. Oh, maybe you give a card on anniversaries, but that’s only if you remember those after many years of marriage.

One of the things I can say is that my first marriage would have gone a hell of a lot better if it wasn’t so forced. I can remember waiting for the card from the ex to hear that he loved me, or the flowers, but sometimes there weren’t any flowers. He had me at once a year, and I guess it’s nice; but not really.

I don’t believe love is just one designated day where we’re forced to perform for our partner. Don’t get me wrong, I love an excuse for romance, but I think the pressure behind Valentines’ can kill the romance. I always thought love should have been different growing up. I remember it being Valentines’ Day, so “time to get Mom flowers. Let’s do something;” but the rest of the time you didn’t see it a whole lot. I remember watching my mother fall out of love with my father, and I remember creating the same scenario with a husband and children of my own. But why?

I became aware that I wasn’t putting effort in. I hadn’t learned to making it a priority, seeing it as beautiful, as something good. I wasn’t in the full gratitude of it, of finding someone to love and to have them love me back.

Instead it had become a hole- a void I was trying to fill with valentines. I didn’t like who I had become. It wasn’t his fault mind you, I’m not blaming him. Im blaming myself- I could have put more effort in. It has to be a constant nurturing, a constant giving. If you have a plant that you ignore for a month, and then drench it with water, how well is it going to survive?

And I can’t speak for all men, but when I polled the men I know, it’s really more of a women’s holiday. Women like to express, and show their love, so they are out there expecting their men to ‘DELIVER’ on this special day. But that’s not really how men see things, or how they perceive it. I think we as women tend to hold unrealistic expectations for our partners, and they’re bound to fail us.

Men, all I can tell you is tell your partner that you love them, and if you try to show more love all year round, it won’t matter so much if you forget a valentine or anniversary—because they’ll already know you love them. And it doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Scribble hearts on post-it notes, send a loving text message during the day. Those little things are what really matter.

Ladies, all I can tell you is: don’t expect it. Tell your partner that you love them too. It’s important that you express how you feel, and be truly honest and genuine with how you feel.

To the couples that I work with, I explain that there’s a bridge between two people; and just like with any bridge, there has to be “bridge maintenance.” This bridge is the path to each other’s lives and hearts. But when that bridge is neglected, it starts to fall apart. It’s crumbling, and you don’t dare risk stepping on the bridge. You’re afraid of falling; so you create barriers so you don’t step onto the bridge.

And it’s not just maintaining that bridge with one person in your life, it’s learning to maintain my bridge with everyone in my life. Think of it as that neutral space in which we can talk to each other, have friendships, have easy access to each other. I have seen barricaded bridges, filled with baggage, that they couldn’t get past. It can cause the demise of a relationship. So when your bridge is cluttered, and there’s holiday pressure of Valentines’ Day, they may send by airway a balloon saying, “love ya hon,” across the bridge. It’s gonna get across, but “does he really mean it?”

The biggest thing we have to remember is that we’re not responsible for clearing anyone else’s baggage. We’re only just responsible for keeping our own baggage out of the way. Yes, this does require only focusing on yourself, which can be one of the biggest hurdles people face.

If you’ve been neglecting something way too long, like rotting teeth, relationships can fall out of your life. If you truly want to nurture a relationship, it isn’t part-time. You have to do it for your whole life. Remind yourself, that you’ll be teaching the children and people around you how to love all year long, (even on those sad anniversaries you may forget). I can tell you it’s not perfect; and it’s not easy. But if we can do a little bit more to show more love to the people in our lives all year around, there won’t be so much pressure on Valentines’ Day.

You will know that you are loved.

Cheers to more having more love in your life- all year long!


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