Valentine’s Day haters do not just include those who find themselves without a valentine.
There are plenty of reasons couples hate Valentine’s Day too, and they are not necessarily just because the “holiday” can all too often feel hollow, or capitalistic, or otherwise forced. So I asked six relationship experts to reveal why they think some couples hate Valentine’s Day so much. After all, these psychologists, therapists, and other experts know a thing or two about the dynamics of couples. I figured they could shed light on such a widespread feeling of dislike.
Shed they did. And one expert reminded that it’s possible that even the grinches of Valentine’s Day can be won over, if they just change their mindset. “For people that hate V-Day, I would suggest they find amazing ways to show love that buck the commercial aspects,” Rob Alex, who created Sexy Challenges and Mission Date Night with his wife, tells Bustle. The options are endless, but the only rule is that you eschew traditional tropes of the day for things that are more personal and special.
“Make your own card, cook a fabulous meal together and just spend that valuable time with your partner, just being together and talking,” Alex says. “Love is the most valuable thing on the planet, and yet it doesn’t cost a dime.” Truth. Here are 10 reasons some couples hate Valentine’s Day so much, from a psychological standpoint:
1. Disappointment Is Too Easy
If there’s smoke, there’s fire — and if there are expectations, disappointment is bound to be not too far behind. “Couples learn to dislike Valentine’s because of the pressure to be romantic, to do something special, and the disappointment when it doesn’t go right,” Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, tells Bustle. “That’s why keeping it simple is a good idea.” If you keep the whole thing low-key, as she suggests, your expectations will stay at a reasonable level, and you won’t set yourself up for disappointment.
2. It’s Commercial
“Many people hate V-Day from the commercial standpoint,” Alex tells Bustle. Basing the day on “how much you spend on your partner” will never make anyone feel fulfilled, he says. “Getting away from the commercial aspect of Valentine’s Day could help these people heal from their hatred of V-Day,” says Alex, aka the Guru of Getting It On.
3. Some People Think It’s A Fake Holiday
Similarly, psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle that “some people believe that it is a ‘Hallmark holiday’ — something made up to sell cards and candy.” Though the origins of the day are anything but commercial — in fact, the traditions associated with Valentine’s Day started out rather dark — the day has evolved to be just that, but only if you let it be.
4. It Can Feel Obligatory
“Valentine’s Day can feel like obligatory love,” Carlyle Jansen, author of Author, Sex Yourself: Woman’s Guide to Mastering Masturbation and Achieving Powerful Orgasms, tells Bustle. “I have told my partner never to do anything for me on the 14th of February. Any of the other 364 days of the year is wide open for indulgence, and I am happy to receive any other time.” She just doesn’t want her partner to do something special just because “it feels like you are ‘supposed to,'” she says. “Of course, my partner always thinks that this is a trick and will get into trouble if nothing happens.”
5. You’re Forced To Perform
“I believe couples can come to hate V-Day, because of all the commercialization of this holiday with the emphasis on spending too much money,” relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can’t Leave Bad Relationships, tells Bustle. “Restaurants can be overcrowded and over-charging, and yet the pressure to do something special can make couples do things they really rather not be doing.” Rather than forcing yourself to shell out for a prix fixe menu you’d rather not eat, feel free to stay home and watch a movie — you can always get dolled up and go out another night.
6. It Can Feel Superficial
“People hate rejection, and if a focus is on a romantic love, which is fleeting, then almost any love that is not superficial could feel to some as if they are experiencing something ‘less than,'” psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. In other words, the superficial starts to feel real — and real, from-the-heart gestures can feel like they are not enough, even though they are authentic, if they don’t involve red roses or candy. “It is so important to understand that what is celebrated and what is real might be very different,” Paiva says. “We put expectations on ourselves, partners and relationships that are unrealistic.”
7. Too Much Is Crowded Into One Day
“Many believe that there should not be a day to show the other person how you feel about them, but this should be a regular occurrence throughout the year,” says Martinez. By jamming it all into one day, pressure and expectations can be too high — and you can lose out on exchanging little gifts and performing acts of kindness throughout the year.
8. You And Your Partner Can Be On Two Different Pages
“There’s always this unspoken need to meet your mate’s expectation, and frankly, two people who are otherwise very compatible, might just not be on the same page about the whole ‘Hallmark card and everything is coming up roses, candy hearts and chocolate kisses thing,'” says Sansone-Braff. A real, heart-to-heart discussion with your partner is in order. “The solution to this problem is to talk about what this holiday means or doesn’t mean to you, and come to some kind of compromise on how to spend this day together,” says Sansone-Braff. “Whatever you do, don’t start a War of the Roses over Valentine’s Day.”
9. It Can Be Re-Traumatizing
“Some have simply had terrible prior experiences in the past, and this has made them unable to move past it and learn to enjoy it and the company of their partner for a special celebration,” says Martinez. If you’ve had a horrible Valentine’s Day — or multiple awful V-Days past — you can skip the day, or make new memories by doing something completely different.
10. Everything Is Packed
And sometimes you want to share your googly eyes with no one but your partner. On Valentine’s Day, everywhere you go will be extra packed, often requiring reservations months in advance. Even worse: You’ll be surrounded by other couples, and it’s hard to ignore what everyone around you is doing/wearing/saying to each other. If you really, truly hate V-Day, and your partner does too, you can always opt out. But if you just dislike the day because of one or more of these underlying reasons, you can always alter your choices, so you can still celebrate love — without the icky parts.
Curated by Erbe