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  • Writer's pictureRMTC Team

Managing Valentine’s Day Stress: For Couples and Singles

Counsellor, Counselling, Mental Health, Waterloo Region

Society romanticizes grand gestures, romantic movies tell us we should strive for certain things in our relationships (monogamy, marriage, kids, etc.), and many of us (regardless of orientation or preference) are under pressure to conform to some standard of what a relationship should be / look like. Equally, for those who are single (happily or unhappily) we often face pressure (both social and economic) to couple up and scrutiny if we opt to stay single.  


Everyone, regardless of relationship status can feel anxious and stressed around this time of year. Here are some strategies for handling relationship anxiety and loneliness on Valentine’s Day.  


Practice your media literacy skills and set healthy (and realistic) expectations


Romance saturates almost all our media, regardless of genre (and sometimes it is the genre!). Movies, tv-shows, books, comics, video games, and even memes on the internet are all places where the ideals of what romance can and should be are negotiated. Practice your media literacy skills by reminding yourself that representations of romance in the media are not how romance goes down in real life! Being able to approach representations with a critical eye is crucial to managing our expectations for romance and grand gestures (we cannot all be stopped from moving across the country by our crush at the airport!)  


Limit your time on social media and avoid comparing yourself and your relationships to others


In our increasingly online culture, many of us feel pressure to perform our daily private lives in increasingly public ways. Social media is great for connecting us to friends, family, and our communities, but it becomes an issue when it creates unrealistic expectations for what our lives should be. You might be tempted to compare your relationship to your favourite celebrity couple or even just that one friend from high school who seems to have it all put together.  


Remember that when you post on social media you are only posting a snapshot of your life; the same goes for relationships. No matter how happy a couple is (or how many cute and romantic selfies they post on Valentine’s Day), everyone has their own relationship issues and concerns to work on. 


Practice self-love


Partnership is portrayed in romantic media as the endgame: the movie always ends when the couple gets together, and the relationship is always what makes the couple as individuals ‘the best version of themselves.’ But you do not need a partner to be the best version of yourself!  

Sarah Potvin, MA, RP

Sarah Potvin, MA, RP, recommends that we all take time for self-reflection on Valentine’s Day and remind ourselves of who we are and what brings us joy as individuals:  


“Think about what brings you happiness and contentment; how can you engage in an activity that brings you those feelings today? Write out what you appreciate about yourself (skills, values, characteristics, choices, etc.), even if it feels silly or awkward to do.” 


Remind yourself that it is just one day


Your relationship and your commitment to your partner(s) is more important to you than the celebrations of just one day, right? Remember to take a deep breath and reflect on your relationship outside of the context of the day; you would not be so stressed if it was just a regular date night. 


Sometimes we might find it hard to build resilience apart from our partners. If you find this to be true for you, Sarah suggests that you, “Engage in self-compassion. Acknowledge that what you are going through is difficult, that you are not alone in your struggles (other people would feel this way if they were going through what you are experiencing) and think about what it means to be kind to yourself amidst what you are experiencing.”  


If you have (a) partner(s): talk to them!  


Knowing how your partner(s) like(s) to receive affection, or their “love language” can help you improve your relationship well beyond Valentine’s Day. Words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch can all have a different impact for different people. What makes you tingle might make your partner cringe, but you may not know if you do not ask.  


Be clear with your partner(s) about your expectations and find out what they are expecting of you as well. If this is your first Valentine’s together, you may each have your own idea of what the day means to you. You cannot expect your partner(s) to read your mind! If your ideal Valentine’s includes a big gift or grand gesture, but your partner usually does not even mark the day with a card, it is a recipe for conflict. Be sure to be clear with your partner(s) about what Valentine’s Day means to your relationship.  


Sarah reminds us that there are multiple types of love (platonic, familial, romantic, self-love). Take time to think of all the different ways you are loved and give love, whether to your family, friends, pets, or yourself. There are so many ways to love, so celebrate them! Romantic love is great, but it is not the only kind of love that the world has to offer.  


Whether you are longing for romantic love or single and loving it, Valentine’s Day can bring up a wealth of emotions. Take some time to notice your feelings instead of turning away. You never know what you will learn about yourself when taking note of these feelings.  


Relationship Matters Therapy Centre is a private therapy practice in downtown Galt, serving Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, and Guelph in-person, or Ontario-wide online. If you’re looking to book an appointment with any one of the therapists at Relationship Matters you may contact us via email at, or by phone at 226-894-4112. 


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