When Valentine’s Day Isn’t a Hallmark Movie For You



Every year when Valentine’s Day lurks around the corner, we are pummelled with advertisements and sappy movies about the importance of the day. No other holiday pushes the idea that everyone should have a date or be in the midst of a wildly romantic relationship on one specific day of the year more than St. Valentine’s Day. Mass marketing spends millions on the message that not only should everyone be in love but they must demonstrate their love by emptying their wallets or going into debt. We are told that purchasing flowers, chocolates, jewelry, and a host of other items in all price ranges will prove our emotions are true. This sentiment can be exhausting financially and in other ways. 

The Negative Messaging About Being Single

Valentine’s Day can present difficult situations for those who are in recovery. If the person does not have a spouse or significant other, being single around a holiday so focused on being part of a couple can cause feelings of loneliness or inadequacy. In turn, these emotions can cause a temptation to engage in negative self-talk and increase the potential for relapse. It’s important to be aware of the danger of getting trapped in the web of unfair marketing and predictable televised entertainment that comes with Valentine’s Day. 

Millions of people are single on any given day, and even those who are dating or purportedly happily married one year may find themselves single the next year. Remember that your self-worth has nothing to do with having a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. February 14 is just one day of the year, and you are entitled to spend it with friends or family or ignore it completely and enjoy a night in with pizza delivery and a streaming movie. 

Even Couples Feel Valentine’s Day Pressure

Even those who have a partner or spouse can find the annual onslaught of Valentine’s Day messaging to be tiresome. The expectations to provide the perfect evening out or the most romantic present pile up. They often leave a person feeling like if they don’t whisk their sweetie away for a romantic night on the town or slip them an expensive gift like jewelry, they have somehow failed at love. If you feel prone to caving to this pressure, discuss what expectations the two of you have for the holiday before it arrives. During a time of continued lockdowns and social distancing, dining out and shopping are often limited. You may find that just sharing a pleasant dinner at home and exchanging inexpensive, silly gifts from the heart is all you need. It’s also just fine to refuse to participate in the holiday at all, choosing instead to let daily expressions of love suffice.

Staying Single When You Are New to Recovery

If you are new to recovery, being in a romantic relationship may prove difficult at first. Many treatment centers and 12-Step programs recommend individuals new in recovery should avoid dating for the first year. This can be difficult advice to heed, particularly for teenagers and young adults who might be used to dating a lot or feel pressure to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. Keep in mind that your mental health and sobriety are your top goals and that a good relationship will come along and flourish when you are better prepared to deal with it. 

Despite the pressure from advertisements, rom-com movies, and well-meaning family and friends saying that everyone must couple up, you can learn to give yourself a break. Love doesn’t have to be limited to an exchange of feelings with another person. Self-love is vital too. Look for realistic ways to express love for yourself and you will be better prepared to be in a romantic relationship down the line. Take note of your own internal dialogue and challenge negative misperceptions such as how you should be dating someone or that having a significant other validates your worth or attractiveness. 

Expand Your Definition of How to Express Love

Do not let corporate America limit how you express love, particularly on one specific day every February. Buying expensive items for romantic partners is just one option, and not even necessarily the best one. Look around you and think about who holds a place in your heart, like a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a mentor. Be creative about gift ideas for them that are inexpensive or even free, such as one of the following:

  • Write a note expressing your feelings for someone important to you and give it to them 
  • Pick some wildflowers for someone who appreciates the beauty of nature
  • Create a playlist you know a person would enjoy and share it with them
  • Go to a discount store and pick out a whimsical desk toy 
  • Visit a used bookstore to find inexpensive books, DVDs, and music
  • Offer to do a chore your loved one doesn’t enjoy doing as a gesture of your love

Every year we are subjected to an onslaught of ads telling us that we have to celebrate Valentine’s Day and prove our love with expensive trinkets and dinners out. For people who are single, this can be a difficult message to navigate. Even people who have a significant other can tire from the pressure. Rebel against the idea that Valentine’s Day is a one-size-fits-all concept and learn to express your feelings in different ways. Sustain Recovery has a staff of skilled professionals who teach our clients that learning to love yourself is the first step. We offer long-term, proven methods of treatment that allow an adolescent or young adult to flourish under our care. We treat mental health issues and addiction, teaching our clients how to deal with their day-to-day struggles, rewire their thinking, and return home prepared for a life of improved mental health and sobriety. Call our Southern California location today at (949) 407-9052 to get started on loving yourself, others, and life!