Remember to ‘love yourself’ this Valentine’s Day and don’t get preoccupied by unrealistic expectations of the perfect relationship, says a BACP counsellor.
For many, the thought of February 14th conjures up images of romantic meals-for-two, elaborate bunches of flowers and couples sharing gifts and cards.
This can pile on pressure for both couples and those not in relationships.
But people shouldn’t rely on a partner to validate themselves, says Cate Campbell, a counsellor in Buckinghamshire.
And there are plenty of positive things about being single, she adds.
Look at all the people in your life
“If you’re single, look at all the people in your life. Friends are a great thing.
“Rather than having unrealistic expectations of a relationship, think about the people in your life who are positive, who fulfil your needs. They are the important ones for you.
“Remember to love yourself – and I don’t mean that in a narcissistic way,” said Cate.
“You don’t need someone else to validate yourself.
“If you’re relying on that, it can end up with you feeling very low. You may feel as if you’re being dismissed, they are not listening, that they don’t say the right thing. It’s often because we have these unrealistic expectations of a relationship or the other person.”
Cate says that sometimes people split up with their partners ahead of Valentine’s Day because of the pressure or anticipation surrounding relationships on February 14th.
Sometimes they feel it would be dishonest to continue and celebrate the day when they no longer want to be in the relationship.
But Cate says there is a positive way to look at break-ups.
“If you look at a relationship as a form of personal development, the breakdown of it actually means the relationship has been successful. People have developed and have got all they can out of the relationship. It’s time to stop.
Just a social construction
“When people develop and grow together, the relationship keeps on. But if they develop in different ways, then it can be time to stop.
“People have outgrown the relationship in its romantic form.”
For those fed up of the over-hyped and over-commercialised build up to February 14th, whether they are single or in a relationship, Cate has an important reminder.
“At the end of the day, it’s just a social construction. Valentine’s is just another day.”
You can find a BACP counsellor or psychotherapist via the BACP’s Therapist Directory.