How to Put the Love Back into Valentine’s Day

By Sharon Rivkin

What has happened to romance for the sake of romance, and love for the sake of love? In this day and age of commercialization, it’s hard not to feel the pressure to get the perfect gift and to have the perfect day of romance for your Valentine. Quality time with our Valentine seems to be replaced by “quick, get a dinner reservation before all the restaurants are filled up” and “quick, get a present that will show and prove how much you care and love your Valentine.”

It is more important to think consciously and creatively about what you want to do with and for your partner on Valentine’s Day. If you weren’t pressured to buy and do, what might you create that has internal meaning for both you and your Valentine? What does your Valentine mean to you? What does your relationship mean to you? How might you genuinely, rather than habitually, express this? Perhaps by writing a poem, going for walk, or making your own Valentine or present…a Valentine’s Day celebration can come from the heart rather than from expectations.

But what if you don’t have a Valentine? What if you’ve just broken up with someone or it’s your first Valentine’s Day after a separation, divorce, or death? Because of societal pressure, many single people feel badly about themselves on Valentine’s Day, and even feel lonelier than on a “regular” day. It can become a particularly “bad” day, emphasizing their sadness with thoughts like, “no one is giving me a Valentine this year” and/or “I’m not giving anyone a Valentine this year.” It can also be a time of memories from past Valentines’ Days. Even if the memories aren’t all happy and positive, “at least I had a Valentine then.” It can also bring up the most recent loss and put people into a tail spin in their recovery. We live in a culture that often doesn’t recognize a single person’s worth. This can become even more evident on Valentine’s Day.

One way to deal with these negative feelings is to think about becoming your own Valentine. What nice, loving, and thoughtful things can you do for yourself on that day? If you didn’t feel silly or if there was no pressure, what would you want to do for yourself? Perhaps, you would write yourself a Valentine, buy yourself a special treat, or take yourself somewhere special. The important point is to value yourself – who you are, what you’ve done in your life, and where you are in the moment. Maybe it’s not where you thought you’d be, but wherever you are and whatever has happened, you still have worth and deserve a warm and happy Valentine’s Day.

It’s been said so many times, in many different ways, that if we don’t love ourselves, how can we really love another person, and how can we really accept love from another person? Use Valentine’s Day, not as a day of sadness and regret, but rather as a way to nurture yourself and give to yourself. It’s a good message to give your psyche: “I am loved by me.”
So, whether you’re in a relationship or not, with a Valentine or not, make this Valentine’s Day meaningful for YOU. Whatever you decide to do, take some time to reflect on what the day means to you. Then choose how you want to express your love to your Valentine, whether it’s yourself or someone else. See if you can do this without obligation and pressure – just from the heart, in the spirit of loving. Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about?

About the Author:

Sharon M. Rivkin, Marriage and Family Therapist, has worked with couples for 27 years. Her unique insight into the first argument was featured in O: The Oprah Magazine and Reader’s Digest, and has attracted people throughout the United States and abroad for consultation, workshops, and courses. For more information on Sharon Rivkin or to contact her, visit

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