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Why Valentines Day F**ks Up Your Love Life

There’s a lot I don’t like about Valentines day. It makes people in relationships feel pressured, and it makes single people feel inadequate.

The former group have to go out and find something to do so as not to look like they don’t care about each other. They pay astronomical prices in an overcrowded restaurant for the same wine and pasta that cost a third of the price the week before, and buy some plastic crap with hearts and clichéd teddy bears on it. It becomes a day of merchandise and extortion for those who feel coerced into doing something for their partner.

Then there are the latter group, the singletons, thrust into a feeling of lacking as every business promotion, television ad, and shop window is full of images of what they don’t have. Consequently they either become depressed about not having someone, they rebel against the idea of having someone altogether, or they throw themselves into a fit of action fuelled by the panic that time is running out.

The truth is I very much like holidays. They force us to celebrate, create memories, and express how we feel about each other at least once a year. But I can’t help but think that this is where the tragedy lies for many relationships. Valentines, like many other holidays, becomes a rushed effort to make up for what we haven’t done in the other 364 days of the year.

It’s seen in the case of the workaholic man who after ignoring his spouse’s needs for the last six months buys her a Cartier bracelet in an effort to pay off all of his emotional debt. Or the woman who decides she’s going to wear or do something really sexy in the bedroom which she could have excited him with year round!

Unfortunately, nothing we do on one day will even out what we haven’t done the rest of the year. A day is just a day – no matter how romantic the restaurant or how expensive the jewellery – our relationships are the measure of our averages, not the intensity of one day.

Wonderful one off acts are a little like a sugar rush – massive highs which quickly disappear once normality sets back in.

This notion both takes the pressure off of Valentines day (you don’t need to perform a miracle, it won’t improve your relationship long term anyway) and puts the pressure on for the whole of the rest of the time, but in a more manageable way.

So why am I saying this? Is the purpose of this article merely to deflate the guy or girl who just booked a romantic experience for this evening? Should you now take back the jewellery and save your money if it’s not going to work anyway?

The answer of course is no. Enjoy the romance, enjoy the experience, and have fun watching that amazing reaction we all love when someone appreciates a beautiful gift.

But I’d like to offer a different perspective on this day than the one created by companies who want to make you believe that you’re not enough without getting their product as a gift for your partner. It goes like this:

What if Valentines day was like New Years day, but for your love life?

Let’s think about New Years day for a moment. It’s a time when we like to hit the reset button on our lives. We make resolutions, we think about goals we want to reach, and if we’re really proactive, we make a plan on how we are going to get there.

Well what about creating ‘Love life Resolutions’…

I want you to imagine that this year’s Valentines day is a ‘Love Life Reset’. It’s a time for you to make resolutions in your love life. If you’re a in a relationship it might be a resolution about the way you are going to treat your partner. It might be a new standard for how much you listen; or for your level of empathy. It might revolve around the amount of time you give to this person on a daily or weekly basis. It might be a decision to become more invested in their interests, goals and ambitions. Maybe it’s putting all of the important dates – anniversaries, birthdays etc – in your calendar now so that you’re ready for them when they come around.

What could be more romantic than a genuine commitment to your partner about what you are going to do and be for them over the next 12 months? This is how we can really show we care.

By the way, you may choose to tell them this resolution, or you may choose to just let your actions speak for you over the weeks and months. Either way, I want you to look back in three months time at how much your relationship has improved with this focused attention.

Now if you’re single, your resolution will be a commitment to yourself. Instead of letting Valentines panic or frustrate you, use it as a time to plan some really positive changes.

Your resolutions may involve a commitment to going out and meeting new people a certain number of times a week. It might be a commitment to taking more risks with the people you are attracted to when you see them. It might be a commitment to working on areas of your confidence that aren’t strong right now.

Looking at the situation this way will allow you to make genuine progress over the coming weeks, instead of feeling powerless.

With this in mind here are three quick tips in creating your new ‘love life resolutions’:

1) Start small

Just like any goal, your love life resolutions should start small. Trying to improve every part of your love life in one go will lead to overwhelm and you’ll end up doing nothing. Achieving these resolutions is paramount to moving things to the next level.

2) Target your weak areas

Be honest about where you suck right now. If you’re a bad listener, be honest about it and look to fix it. If you don’t show enough interest in your partner’s passions, build your resolution around that. It’s not enough just to build on areas where you are already strong – they will give you the least payoff.

3) Start today

In whatever small way you can, show your intent by beginning your love life resolution today – if you do you are likely to see some immediate small pay-offs in the next 7 days which will reinforce the behaviour.

So there it is. A new approach to Valentines day.

What if this became a day we look forward to because of all the positive changes we make when it comes about? It could actually become something really meaningful. I would promote it non-stop.

The bottom line is this. The little things we all do in our love lives over the next twelve months are going to determine how we feel by the time next Valentines day comes around.

If we are in a relationship one year from now, we should be able to laugh at Valentines as merely another day in the calendar when we treat our partner like royalty (no different from any other day). Even the idea of spontaneity can be tame if we’ve been spontaneous in our relationship year-round. If we’re single one year from now, we’ll be able to look at all the things we are doing to dramatically improve our love lives, without feeling depressed that we have wasted another year.

After all, I believe it’s not the fact that we are alone that most pains us, it’s the knowledge that we could be doing more to change it.

There is a wonderful line put forward by Keith Cunningham which I try to remember at least once a day: “Ordinary things done consistently produce extraordinary results”.

So there’s no need to worry about today. Instead of rushing around to make someone feel extra special, spend that time thinking about how you are going to make that person feel special for the next 12 months – including yourself. The results I promise you will be far grander.

Bits and bobs to finish…

Leave a comment… What do you think of this new approach to Valentines? Does it make you like the holiday more?

If you want more like this… Check out my online training programme The Man Myth. This is the complete A–Z, it will give you more ideas for resolutions that you know what to do with (whether you’re single or in a relationship), and get you excited about the idea of implementing them. Use today as a chance to hit reset and get access to the videos right away.

Contest winner!
This is for the caption contest I ran last week on the US GetTheGuy book cover. We had some really great entries, and thank you to everyone who left a comment! We’ll be having more contests for you to enter coming up very soon.

My favourite caption, one that made me crack up when reading it, was from Amanda: “If you liked it’d then you should have put a bow tie on it! (in a Beyonce style)”. I now can’t stop playing that song in my head with those words, so thank you for that Amanda! My team will be getting in touch very shortly to book your two spots on the GetTheGuy Tour

**The dates and locations for which are going to be announced this Sunday! Set the date in your diary, it’s going to be big.**

Photo credits: QThomasBower 

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104 Replies to “Why Valentines Day F**ks Up Your Love Life”

  • Never having been a big fan of V-Day since those awful elementary days where we “had to give everyone” a card. So going to pick something up light some candles open a bottle of wine and toast me and my health with my dog ;o) Take her for a walk and give her a well deserved tummy rub ;o) Sometimes you need to be with someone who loves you unconditionally. Happy V-day everyone whether you enjoy it with your friends, fur babies or if you are lucky enough to have a special someone in your life. Karen

  • The retailers will hate you for this but I love you for it! Three cheers for maintaining your integrity in a world where even ethical considerations are tainted by commercial interests THANK YOU

  • Hey Matt,
    Thanks for the article…I just got home from my first valentine’s day date with a boyfriend. I just have to say…I hate Valentines day. I felt so much pressure today because of it. I care about my boyfriend so much…but I just hate the pressure. I didn’t know what give to give him: what if it was too cliche.. and frankly- I’m not such a gift person. And I don’t really like receiving gifts or when other person spends money on me – it’s just makes me feel uncomfortable.
    I just wanted to spend time together…but we ended up spending time with his friends too. It makes me wonder: doesn’t he like spending time together alone? Do I get him bored?
    But you are right..thinking about V day as an opportunity for resolutions and growth – that certainy takes a lot of pressure off and is constructive too. :)

  • Hi Matthew ! I LOVE the way you see things ! I believe, as you do, that we should take care of our love life all year long. I think your approach on how to look at this day as if it were a moment to reflect on our love life and take a resolution for the coming year very refreshing and inspiring. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one ! Have a great Valentine’s Day ! xoxo

  • Hey Matthew!

    I totally agree with what you said about Valentine’s Day! It is sooooo over-rated and I think it’s harder on men, personally.
    My mother is reading a book by Zig Ziglar about “courtship” after marriage and one of the things he mentioned was the importance of doing special things for your partner no matter what day it is. It is better to give your partner a gift or plan a special outing just because you want to, not because it is expected.
    Two resolutions I plan to make are: taking more risks with people I am attracted to and working on my self-confidence. Great article, which I will keep on file to read whenever I need a boost!

  • People should understand the origin of Valentines Day. Back in the third century marriage was condemned in Rome so as to get all the males to become soldiers and not to marry however, a priest named Valentine still carried out marriages in secrecy as he believed in his faith. Not much is known surrounding the exact date. Unfortunately around Feb 14, or Feb 24 (this exact date is still unknown) he was beheaded! So I like to reflect this day on the actual bloke himself! Sorry but I’m just stating the truth.

  • Matthew, I love your post today and whole heartily agree.
    My ex husband never did much of anything unless it was either Mother’s Day, Xmas or V Day and only because it was expected, otherwise it was just business as usual.
    I think we forget how important it is to show we care. I think, by and large, we take each other for granted, especially as a relationship matures.
    I love your idea of using this day like we would a new year’s resolution and work towards showing we love and appreciate each other far more. Well done!

  • Well…. I did not have anyone to cuddle up with, or for the last few Valentine’s… but this Valentine’s Day morning I thought “Screw it!!” and dressed myself beautifully, put on makeup and felt really good about myself. Because, loving yourself should come first & foremost.
    Then in the evening, I had an awesome time dancing & celebrating with others in a global campaign against violence against women. The best thing was that a guy I had my eye on came & he brought his dad along. A few days before V-day, I had sent him a funny hand-drawn & hand-written card which just was about how we first met, how I fancied him at first sight, & the incredible blunders I made to make him to notice me… and it worked because we hung around each other as friends more after that.
    So, after an evening of getting along (quite well, I think!) with his dad & himself…. I kind of feel great & positive of things to come! The guy I liked asked if I was free on Saturday for a movie! Not a conventional V-day, but I couldn’t ask for a better day! :)

    1. Sabrina, gush, I wish I could do the same.
      I served this guy at work and he is the most handsome man I have ever seen in my life
      However I have no clue how to see him again

  • I’m loving this new perspective of leading with valentine’s day!

    I’m not the kind of person who gets sad for not having someone to share this day with (maybe because in portuguese we often call it what could be translated to “boyfriend/girlfriend’s day”, I always thought that it would only make sense to those who have a partner.) I never really understood those girls who get depressed for not having a boyfriend at valentine’s day, for me it is like feeling blue at somebody’s anniversary because we are not the ones who are getting presents and attention – it doesn’t make sense, it’s all about being our day, our turn to celebrate something, or not (yet).
    I’ve always seen valentine’s day as a profitable day for the markets involved more than anything else.
    But on the other hand, and ironically, I suffered the bad side effects of valentine’s day whenever I had a boyfriend at the time. Although I never liked the clichéd flowers, chocolates and heart-shaped stuff which I always considered easy and lazy gifts, I wanted to have a special day (after all, being somebody’s girlfriend turns valentine’s day in my day too, as well as my boyfriend’s day, naturaly). I now understand that I putted too much pressure on my boyfriends to show me what they had thought and prepared for me, I wanted to be truly surprised and amazed by their romance (as I also demanded that from myself). And at the end of the day, it was nice but not awesome, they never exceeded my high expectations or at least got close to them.

    Until now I felt great for not having problems dealing with being alone at valentine’s day. But now I see that I wasn’t dealing with it the right way whenever I had a boyfriend.
    So I’m following your advice! My love life resolution this year will be to remind myself that “our relationships are the measure of our averages, not the intensity of one day.” which you, Matthew, wisely said.

    I believe I’m 1) starting small, 2) targetting my weak areas and I’m definitely 3) starting today =)

    Thank you!

  • wonderful post! i totally agree and have been PREACHing this to my friends for years. you should make the people you care about feel special all year. not just one day.

    i think they all ignore me because they think im cynical on the subject of love in general. =/

  • I don’t believe that Valentine’s day is a day for over spending or making bitchy comments. Obviously you should try to make everyday matter, treat people the way you want to be treated and let people know that you appreciate them. That’s not the point. The point is no matter what a woman says, it matters. Women, like men, want to feel appreciated and when it comes to Valentine’s day, it’s no different. Getting a card, flowers, or any sweet gesture really makes a positive impact. For the most part, I’d would say that Valentine’s Day is definitely a girl’s holiday. So what? Men have their days too. What’s wrong with that? Nothing. So do me a favor and just make the extra effort; it doesn’t have to cost anything. If you’re with someone who makes demands of expensive gifts, then maybe you should end it. But if you’re with someone you like or care about, then make the extra effort. I was with the same guy for years and he always chose Valentine’s Day to make a “statement”. All I wanted was for him to say to me, “Happy Valentine’s Day, babe”, but he couldn’t even do that. I guess his statement was, “I want to be single.” Well message received and now he’s single. I never said anything to anyone and no one knows until now, but I cried for months after we broke up. My ex recently called me and said that he regrets “letting me go” because I was both an amazing girlfriend and a great friend. Too bad he couldn’t realize that when we were together. Needless to say, too little too late. I don’t know if I’ll ever find Mr. Right, but I don’t want to spend my life feeling like crap. It’s hard, but at some point you just have to be your own hero and save yourself from a sad existence. If you really care about someone, then show it and yes, acknowledge things like Valentine’s day. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It just needs to show that you give a damn. This year I didn’t have a special Valentine. So what? I love holidays and I like Valentine’s Day regardless if I’m in a relationship or not and you’re right life is about making memories. This year my lil’ niece and I made treats and cards to give to her classmates and we had a great time together. I took a break from work and treated myself to a great lunch at this cool cafe I’ve been wanting to try for a while. I had a few co-workers that I saw were feelin’ down on V-day, so I brought back cookies from a bakery I went to after lunch and told them it was my way of saying thanks for all they do. Turns out they lreally liked it, which was nice. I just figure if I want to have a good day then I’ll make it happen. If you like it, great. If you don’t, that’s okay too.

    1. Still hopeful, I really appreciate that you put this out.
      I’ve read a lot of books to help me to understand how hard it is for men to express their sweet feelings. I am training myself to be the ones who inspire gentle sweetness in routine life

  • Matthew,
    I just had a pretty sucky Valentines day. A guy who I had feelings for and whom I have been seeing for 9 months did not ask to spend time with me on Valentines. I just broke off our “friendship” or whatever we had. What I liked about your article, is not so much how people can show love to each other every day of the year, but how they can enhance their relationship by seeing Valentines as a Romantic New Years. Right before I ended the conversation with the guy I told you about, he tried to promise me changes in our relationship. I believe I was too hurt to accept his offer. For now, I just need my space to cope with the whole thing. I think I need a new resolution for my love life. What do you suggest? This might be too hard for you to answer being that you don’t know the whole story. But I’d take any suggestion you’d think for a girl who is looking for love.

    Thanks for what you do,

  • I definitely love that idea: of making love resolutions. But also from my dating experience, I it when a guy gives me a small present or does something nice just because it’s a thursday. Only because if he waits for valentines day, sometimes that may come off as an obligation and not from the heart.
    There’s also the way valentines is celebrated in Japan. I love the idea of giving chocolate to males that matter to me, and then one month later see who I receive chocolates from. But as mentioned before, getting a present, flowers, a nice dinner, etc just because it’s a thursday is much more meaningful I think.

  • Thanks Matthew… your thoughts on Valentine’s Day are excellent. I feel normal again in this regard. I am a hopeless romantic who has become quite guarded over time and disillusioned because I realize I stuff up in my love life area and yet have never known what to do about it – that left me feeling helpless and hopeless and therefore putting up my guard. That didn’t work either. I could help other people with their emotions, but was a mess in my own.
    Matt, thank you for giving such solid practical advice in your series “Get the Guy”, even on a day like Valentine’s day when it’s all hyped with emotion, you still have given practical advice.
    You’re my hero…

  • I feel almost privileged coming from a country where Valentine’s Day isn’t that big a of a deal after reading these stories. In Finland Valentine’s Day is known as Friendship Day (Ystävänpäivä), when people acknowledge their friends and loved ones. But in the recent years your version of Valentine’s Day has found its way here too (probably due to the influence of chick flick movies). What a great idea to change it into a love resolution day! It works for all, and really makes you think about your own decisions and choices. Hear, hear Matt!

  • I love how you suggested looking at it like a New Year. It’s so important in life to evaluate what can be made better and it’s the same in relationships. I spent the evening with my girlfriend and I have to say it was the best Valentines day ever! Ladies please don’t beat yourself up over why you haven’t met your true love instead work on becoming your best self. The only person who can make you truly happy is you others just add to that happiness.

  • every one should really have alook at this article!! its informative and applicable. thx Mathew for your brilliant ideas!!

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