Why Is Valentine’s Day So Triggering? 3 Ways to Cope With Your Feelings

A day of undying love or a day of unending pressure? Here's how to make the annual holiday less stressful.

The pressure is on. As we tick down the minutes to the “most romantic day of the year,” some people are excited —while many others are feeling literal and utter panic and dread. From planning the perfect night out, to gift-giving (which is stressful enough on its own), and even the pressure to just find a date or a mate, Valentine’s Day brings with it a lot of love —and a heck of a lot of duress.

In fact, a 2020 survey of singles by dating website Plenty of Fish revealed that 43 percent of respondents feel it’s THE MOST pressure-filled holiday there is, with one in five wishing it was canceled altogether! We consulted Cortney S. Warren, PhD, ABPP, board certified clinical psychologist and author of Letting Go Of Your Ex to pinpoint exactly why that might be.

“We are bombarded with cultural messages about love and romance, which exacerbate the message that you should have a mate, or at least a date!,” says Dr. Warren. “Add to that the financial pressure to buy an expensive gift or spend money on a romantic date night, express your unending affection in a romantic way, and the highly idealized and faulty messages about love, with this idea for everything to be perfect and boldly convey their importance in your life, and it’s just too much,” she explains.

RELATED: 10 Reasons Why You’re Dreaming About Your Ex

Those messages that Dr. Warren considers to be pressure-inducing and potentially faulty include the idea that this person is your soulmate, should be put on a pedestal, and they complete you. 

All of this can simply trigger a bevy of emotions that we need to learn to cope and deal with, attests Dr. Warren.

How do we cope with Valentine’s Day triggers?

stressed woman
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Dr. Warren has outlined three ways we can cope with our feelings and emotions when we start to feel that pressure build.

  1. Celebrate all the love in your life, not just that of a mate. Remember that Valentine’s Day is about love in general, and not just the romantic kind. “You don’t need to be in a relationship to celebrate. You can shift the meaning of the day to celebrate the love from your friends, family, children, pets and even yourself!,” she advises.
  2. Celebrate in more creative ways. Take the financial stress off the table by getting creative. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money to convey your love to others. In a post-pandemic high-inflation era, many are feeling financially strapped. Instead, get creative and plan a picnic at a park, make dinner at home, write them a card or paint a picture —anything that would be meaningful and not put you in a financial pinch,” suggests Dr. Warren.
  3. Be honest with yourself and others. It’s all too easy to get caught up in those idealized messages and the hype of the romantic greeting cards —so avoid the temptation to embellish the truth, and focus on how you actually feel. “Things like ‘you’re my one and only true love’ and ‘you complete me’ are highly idealized messages that you can’t really promise a mate,” says Dr. Warren. “So instead, focus on what you can tell them today in an authentic way, such as ‘I’m really grateful you are in my life,’ or ‘I hope to celebrate my love for you for years to come.'” These are more realistic and lead to less disappointment or triggering feelings in the long-run, says Dr. Warren.
Jené Luciani Sena
Jené Luciani Sena is an accredited journalist and internationally-renowned bestselling author, regularly seen on national TV outlets such as Access Daily, Today and Dr Oz. Touted as one of Woman’s World Magazine’s “Ultimate Experts,” she’s a TEDTalk speaker and a busy Mom of 4. Read more
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