"Why Valentine's Day Gets a Bad Rap (And Why It Shouldn't)"

Love, Self

Whether you're single or in a relationship, Valentine's Day is what you make of it.

Were Valentine's Day a person, I would feel compelled to defend her, take her out to dinner boost her confidence, and let her wonder that I too wonder why people avoid and bad mouth her this time of year. After all, she's just a pastel pink and blood red holiday Hallmark moment. She's not offensive, cruel or beneath me or anyone else.

Perhaps you've bought into the lie that being single on this holiday means you should be bitter, depressed, hopeless and sad. Maybe you think the only way to "fix" this situation is to take a class on dating and relating or hold onto your resentment toward the guy who hasn’t managed to move your casual dating to something more meaningul.

On the flip side, if you're in a relationship there's the unspoken implication that you should feel guilty for the pressure you put on your mate to make Valentine's Day romantic. I've even had women feel so strongly about this that they and their partners actually choose to actively "boycott" the holiday since they "show each other [our] love every day."

If you've fallen into either of these traps, hold your horses. Rein in your feelings and stop to seriously consider whether Valentine’s Day really deserves the bad rap it seems to get lately.

I fondly look back on the first Valentine's Day where I was in a relationship after my marriage broke up, which was six long years after the divorce. My boyfriend (who I call "The Brit") and I decided against exchanging gifts during that year's winter holidays, deciding to take a family vacation instead. That's why I decided to acknowledge our love for one another on Valentine's Day. Here was our plan.

1. We talked at length about gift giving, holidays and the general expectations we each had for those things. I told The Brit I very much like observing Mother’s Day and birthdays. I also let him know that I like to celebrate Valentine's Day because I'm so blessed to have all this incredible love in my life (including that from my three daughters).

The Brit noted that, not being American, he's never really given much thought to these so-called "Hallmark Holidays." But he was willing to give it a shot in the partnership he and I now shared. Knowing it wasn't really "his thing," he asked for specific suggestions, directions and goals regarding my Valentine expectations.

2. As Feb. 14 drew nearer that year, we discussed how and when to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I shared with him my tradition of buying small tokens like chocolates for my daughters and serving a heart-shaped chocolate cake at breakfast. I also told him about the gifts I give my girls and how we decorate the table with confetti hearts before we spend special quality time together during the day. I even told him how I came up with this tradition the year I divorced to celebrate the Girl Power in my house, since it lets us show love to each other, honor one another’s femininity, and take the opportunity to eat chocolate together! This let him know that even though I had been single for six years by that point, Valentine’s Day had grown to become one of my favorite holidays.

3. The Brit and I decided to have a family celebration on Feb. 14, just as I had the last several years with my daughters. Meanwhile, he and I would share time together an evening the following week when my daughters were with their dad and The Brit didn't have to work late. He knew I had an expectation that he would express his thoughtfulness with a card or other token on Valentine's Day itself, but he also knew that I didn't expect this small token to be fancy jewelry or a similar "typical" Valentine gift.

The result? I didn't spend time fretting that he would "figure it out," "get it," or give me some "amazing" gift as a surprise. To put it plainly, we both took the time to focus on romance since it so often gets lost in our regular, day-to-day lives.

If you need a reality check about Valentine's Day, I'm here to give it. It's your choice if you decide to moan and groan or mutter with distaste about this holiday because you bought into the belief that your singlehood is "bad." If you're in a relationship, why not hearken back to your elementary days when things were simpler and make your own valentine our of construction paper and glitter. Let your partner know you want to make Feb. 14 a day of celebration of your relationship with each other?

Remember, you don't have to bad-mouth Valentine’s Day. She’s not out to get you or guilt you. Rather, she’s just a day on the calendar created to, yes, sell cards and chocolates — but she's ALSO there to remind the general public to spend one day focusing on any person you love amid your harried, frenetic, day-to-day life.

Now is the time to learn how to attract worthy, desirable men, and create the life you LOVE. Break out of your romantic rut by breaking dating patterns so you can master a new, feminine-based approach to get maximum results.