This is a guest post by J Hellings, one of our therapists.
Saint Valentine’s day is coming up. Your feelings about that might not be simple and might not even be positive. If that’s so then you are not alone.
If you do look forward to Valentine’s day then I’m not here to rain on your parade and I’m not going to try to persuade you to do anything differently. If you know someone who is less enthusiastic about this particular celebration, then you might want to read on anyway. Maybe there will be some insight into how they think or feel about it.
I admit that I’ve always been a curmudgeon when it comes to celebrations where there is an expectation to buy things (cards, presents, decorations, etc.) I can’t help looking at the glitz and the advertising and thinking, “There must be things everyone would rather spend their money on than this.” And for some of us that is true.
Valentine’s day affected me more than the other celebrations though. At first I thought it was about the consumerist way that love and romance are packaged, as if love was a commodity, but in a learning process that took decades, I realised it was something deeper than that.
I identify as Aromantic. The simplest way for me to explain that is to say that if there is such a thing as romantic love then I don’t feel it. If that seems like a nonsense statement, then I’m sure there are people who can explain it better than I can. That’s not to say that I don’t feel love. I feel a deep love for my family and friends, but that love doesn’t look like something that would usually appear on a “Love is…” card.
I’m not here to say that if you dread Saint Valentines Day that you are aromantic. (Although if you want to know more then there are plenty of other people whose different experiences might be relevant.) There are lots of other reasons that you might be put off:
- a recent painful experience in a romantic or sexual relationship
- negative experiences with people who take Valentine’s far more seriously, or far less seriously, than you do or have done
- the pressure to be in some kind of non-platonic relationship in order to feel like an adult
- the pressure to conform to a very narrow idea of what love or romance or sexuality look like
- the feeling that Valentine’s day is more about profit than people
In case you do struggle with Valentine’s day then, here are some suggestions of different things you could do that day:
- Celebrate a different kind of relationship: I was lucky enough to have amazing housemates for a while who valued our friendships as much as any romantic attachments. We would all go out for a meal on Valentine’s day. Some people attended regardless of whether they had romantic partners.
- Celebrate being single: Not having a partner can be worth celebrating. Can you notice how much freedom you have because of that? If you’ve ever been restricted in your choices because of what someone else wanted (parents, partners, anyone) then maybe choose Valentine’s day to do what you couldn’t do then.
- Let someone know how much they mean to you: We can get so focussed on romantic and/or sexual relationships, or the lack of them, that we forget how rich our lives are with other kinds of love. Has someone been a good friend to you? Or supported you well in another way? Is your life noticeably richer because of a particular person? Practising gratitude is an excellent habit for our emotional well being, and thanking someone can give them a boost too.
If you find this time of year difficult and would like to talk to someone about that, why not book a session with J Hellings. one of our therapists. J will give you the space you need to talk about what you are thinking and feeling. If you’re not sure what you are feeling, or what to think about that, then that’s okay. That’s something you and J can work with too. Give Physio & Therapies a call on 01706 819464 or email us to find out more.