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As a relationship therapist, here’s what I’ve come to understand about Valentine’s Day
pink and white heart illustration

Valentine's Day can be very special and romantic for many. It can be a wonderful and exciting day to celebrate a new relationship. And for married couples or partnerships, it can also be a nice reminder of all the good times spent together. Indeed, this is often a technique I use as a relationship therapist with my clients.

Couples can sometimes forget what they saw in each other, all those years ago. Therefore, it is important to occasionally reflect upon exactly what drew them together and recognise the qualities that allowed them to fall in love. Valentine's Day offers up a great opportunity to do this or rekindle a struggling relationship.

However, I am not entirely a fan of Valentine's Day.

I am aware that for many who find themselves on their own on Valentine's Day, it can be emotionally painful not to have received a card or an invitation to dinner and so on. Seeing red roses, chocolates and cards being sold and bought, and watching or knowing that couples will lift champagne glasses to celebrate, can also be very hard for those on their own. It is a day that can trigger all sorts of negative emotions:

1) When partners sometimes forget or can't afford to send flowers, buy chocolates, and so on, that can lead to disappointment and dismay.

2) It can be a reminder of a relationship that is failing.

3) It can also be a sad reminder of a partner who may have passed away.

4) It can set off feelings of loneliness, sadness, depression, and even abandonment.

5) Consequently and statistically, suicide rates go up, and yet knowing this, we continue to celebrate this ancient ritual.

6) It can also set off feelings of failure for not having a boyfriend, a girlfriend, or a partner.

7) And waiting for that lone Valentine's card to be posted through the letterbox can be most excruciating, especially for teenagers.

8) Some people with weight or self-esteem issues and so on can find this day excruciatingly painful. They can feel rejected, and any feelings that they may be unattractive or worthless can emerge.

READ: 9 questions you should ask before falling in love, according to a relationship therapist

9 questions you should ask before falling in love, according to a relationship therapist

Relationships are risky. Getting to know a prospective partner and asking the right questions early on is crucial to reducing this risk – especially when we all know love can be blind, and it doesn't always recognise the pitfalls.

In other words, if any day is to be celebrated, then surely it should be celebrated with an upbeat, happy sentiment that is shared by ALL? This is certainly not the case with Valentine's Day. But, I am also aware that many shops rely on this day for much of their profits.

Sadly, Valentine's Day also re-affirms all the nonsense we've been fed for decades. Not all relationships are about sending one another red hearts, kissing a prince or princess, then walking hand in hand into the horizon and living happily ever after. Life just isn't like this.

Sure, it may be nice to play make-believe for a day. However, the reality for many is often far from the fantasy that Valentine's Day produces.

However, if you find this day hard, remember you are not alone. Many feel the same way, perhaps even for different reasons. On the other hand, if you know of any single friends, maybe you could send them a Valentine's card or maybe they'd appreciate a call, so they'll know that someone cares.

But, if you are with someone you love, permit yourself to shout your love from a rooftop or from wherever you are. And tell everyone in your life how much you care and how much they mean to you.

Why not? That's what one should do on Valentine's Day!

Deidré Wallace is a relationship therapist and educator. She has had a private practice for the past 20 years. For more information, visit her website here.

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