Back in elementary and high school, I used to feel the excitement of Valentine’s Day after receiving ‘thoughts of love’ from everyone. I’d receive 25-30 Valentines — featuring punny comments, like “I Choo-Choo-Choose You” or “Slam Dunk a Super Day” (think Michaell Jordan in Space Jam style). Those early Valentine’s Days are some of my fondest.
Now, in my 30’s and single — things have changed. Being single around Valentine’s Day can bring up a variety of emotions for people. Marketing around Feb. 14, often features happy couples, hearts, romance and love in the air. Even though in 2020, 47 per cent of the Canadian population was single, you will rarely see a three-course meal for one advertised.
Magdelena Oskam, a local single person and social media marketer, reflected that the more time she spends on social media, the more pressure she feels to be in a relationship.
“All the marketing, all of the ads, all of the giveaways, all of the Valentine’s Day deals, it can add up to make me feel lesser than because I am single and not in a relationship. It’s a complete holiday that’s marketed towards being in love with someone else and not being in love with yourself,” Oskam said.
Part of the pressure around Valentine’s Day can be the social expectations we experience, whether you are in a relationship or currently single.
“Valentine’s Day sets expectations that this is what you need to do, you need to spend this money, you need to plan this and you need to make sure it’s special,” local therapist and registered social worker, Stacey Reinsma, explained.
On Valentine’s Day, it’s important to check those expectations and focus on what truly matters.
One of the recommendations that Reinsma had for those struggling with the pressure of being single on Valentine’s Day is to focus on acts of self-love.
To Reinsma it is really important to ask yourself, “If I don’t have someone to be with, how can I love and care for myself? What kind of self-care, self-soothing, enjoyable things can I do for myself, on that day, to meet my own needs and show myself love?”
Another local single, Gregory Leavitt (who opted to keep his occupation close to his heart) admitted he didn’t feel those same pressures. For Leavitt, his relationship status on Valentine’s Day does not have the same impact.
“I don’t attach where I should be, to my age or anything in between. If I’m single that day, I’m single,” Leavitt said.
Leavitt did echo a similar sentiment to Reinsma’s in his advice in taking the day for yourself and added that it’s important to appreciate what you’ve accomplished.
“People don’t absolutely need another person, but to look after your own mental health on that day, and appreciate what you’ve done and how far you’ve come, it is a big thing.”
Being able to reflect on this holiday has allowed Oskam to realize what is important to her on Valentine’s Day. She plans on using Feb. 14, to do something special for those she loves, and turn the holiday into something more meaningful to herself — celebrating with friends, hosting a virtual wine night, but also sharing her love with her family.
“COVID-19 has made me realize … how important my family and my relationship with my friends are. Not only during Valentine’s Day, but this entire pandemic. It has really put spotlights on people in my life, and areas of my life that I need to improve, which has been extremely humbling,” Oskam said.
Everyone gives and receives love differently, and on a day about love, it’s important to consider your own primary love language. There are five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. You can use your love languages to honour yourself on Valentine’s Day.
“One of my love languages is gifts, so then on Valentine’s Day I can purchase myself something that I really like, or if it’s quality time, you could spend quality time with somebody, it doesn’t have to just be a romantic partner,” Reinsma explained.
For Reinsma it doesn’t matter how you plan on celebrating — just to remember that it’s all about love.
We’ve hand-selected some cool upcoming virtual Valentine’s Day events happening in our region to spice up your life, whether you’re celebrating radical self-love, romantic love, or friendship — Galentine’s Day anyone?