Nancy was already feeling in the dumps and it was only the middle of January. Fancy Valentine boxes of chocolates appearing in the local drug store made her feel worse. Valentine cards, ideas for gifts and romantic evenings seemed to be everywhere. Nancy, 28 and single, felt assaulted by the media and even the other gals in the office who were comfortably in relationships and busily planning for February 14th. And to make matters even worse, her boyfriend of the last 3 years had just married. She could only imagine how much fun he would be having in a few weeks. Nancy was truly miserable.
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Jacky was happily married for five years, except for one thing. Steve never seemed to get the importance of Valentine's Day. Every year she tried to give him hints. She left magazines open to articles like how to have a romantic Valentine's Day surprise for your sweetheart. She made sure she created a fantastic meal for the 14th and set the atmosphere for when Steve came home from work. The house was decorated with cherubs and Valentine's. The candles were set on the table. The soft music played in the background. And each year she had experienced about the same results. Steve came home tired, seemed surprised at all the fuss, gave her a kiss on the cheek, a Valentine card that displayed more of an effort to not waste money than to be romantic, put on the news and basically ignored her as soon as he finished dessert. And to top it off, Steve couldn't fathom why Jacky was unhappy with him.
Natalie* has been struggling with romantic and exaggerated memories about a lover from her past. Compared to her husband David, who she sees everyday, and who isn't always on his toes romantically (being a slightly remote college professor) Jack looks fabulous in her mind's eye. Even Jack's negative personality traits have faded. Memories of his love-making skills haven't. This Valentine's Day may be a day of nostalgic daydreaming of long lost lovemaking instead of throwing herself into her basically sound and loving marriage.
All of these women suffer conditions that often plague women on February 14th. What should be a pleasant day of love and affection has turned for many into a day of dread and despair . Let's look at the psychological factors that play into this unhealthy situation:
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Nancy's situation is very typical of women who don't currently have a significant other. Our society is a couple's society and when we are alone the media, family and friends make that blatantly clear. Most of us want someone to love and I'm not here to change that. But as a positive psychologist I am going to make a healthy suggestion: