Valentine's Day: Managing the pressure

Americans have a love-hate relationship with Valentine's Day.Some of us look forward to February 14 as an oppo...

Posted: Feb 14, 2018 1:28 PM
Updated: Feb 14, 2018 1:28 PM

Americans have a love-hate relationship with Valentine's Day.

Some of us look forward to February 14 as an opportunity to enjoy our partner's company (and possibly spice things up in the bedroom). Others dread what they consider a commercialized holiday that can put unrealistic pressure on their relationships.

Having a conversation about Valentine's ahead of time can make the day more romantic

If you're single, take the holiday to practice a little self-love

It's clear that the bar is high: According to one online survey of more than 2,000 respondents, more than 65% plan to show affection on Valentine's Day, almost 85% believe that having sex is an important part of the holiday, and more than 60% say they will be disappointed if they don't have sex that day.

With expectations like these, it's easy to set ourselves up for disappointment. Fortunately, it's possible to enjoy the day -- and night -- without creating hurt feelings or breaking the bank.

Read: Ways to make someone feel loved, besides saying it.

"Valentine's Day can serve as a reminder that it's so important to stop and appreciate the closest relationships in your life," couples expert and sex therapist Ashley Grinonneau-Denton said. "To me, the holiday has always been a great reminder of the importance of love, attachment, affection and closeness.

"The caveat is, however, that if this special day stands in isolation, it will quickly become a distant memory and will do very little for a couples' relationship long-term."

Here's how to make the most of February 14, whether you're coupled or single.

Make a plan

It may not seem so, but having a conversation about Valentine's Day ahead of time can make the actual day much more romantic.

"Talk with your partner about what you'd like out of the holiday and whether you feel Valentine's Day is important to you," sex therapist Sari Cooper said. "By beginning the conversation a week or so beforehand, you can co-create a celebration (or not) that is a collaborative event, making compromises for both partners' desires and creating a realistic plan to ensure both of you feel heard emotionally."

And remember that the element of surprise isn't the most important part of the day. "Don't set your partner up to fail, and don't keep desires and expectations to yourself," advised Rachel Needle, a psychotherapist and sex therapist. "Telling your partner 'I would love to go to Pier 115 for dinner,' for example, or 'I would love sunflowers' doesn't make them bringing you flowers or taking you to the restaurant any less special."

Pay attention

Surprise can be a good thing. A little insight into your partner can go a long way by showing them you've listened to them. "Consider doing something your partner has told you in the past they wanted to do: a picnic, a walk on the beach, a certain new restaurant," Needle said. "It doesn't have to cost a lot of money to be special, but rather it needs to be thoughtful."

Spice things up

According to that online survey, 55% of the participants indicated that they were willing to try something new sexually on Valentine's Day. Of course, what that means for you and your partner depends on your particular relationship. "One way to increase intimacy on this holiday is to take a different stance on things and make it all about fun," sex therapist Francie Stone said.

"You could put together a goodie basket of things like massage oil, a feather, a sexy dice game, a blindfold and more. You can try them all or only the ones you really like, or just use the fun to get started and leave the rest to your individual imaginations." This helps make the night playful without necessarily the pressure of intercourse.

If you plan on having sex, try doing so before you go out to dinner on Valentine's Day, sex therapist Tammy Nelson said. "Lots of couples go out to dinner or cook a rich meal at home and drink wine or cocktails to celebrate February 14," she explained. "After a full meal and drinks, it is less likely that any sex -- much less hot sex -- will follow."

Or consider taking sex off the table altogether. "There are so many nerve endings in the lips that are connected to the limbic system and can help create the perfect foreplay for future intimacy encounters," sexual health counselor Aleece Fosnight said. "A good makeout session that only leads to kissing can leave partners wanting more, creating more intensity for future intimate activities."

Love yourself

If you're single, Valentine's Day can seem like a holiday for everyone else. But you don't have to feel left out if you're not in a romantic relationship. Instead, take the opportunity to practice a little self-love.

That could mean indulging in a massage or a new sex toy, dining out with friends or even seeking out companionship. "If you're single and wouldn't mind meeting someone but setting up a date on Valentine's Day feels too staged, Meetup is a fantastic option," sex therapist Holly Richmond said. "Hundreds of Meetup groups plan special events and activities for Valentine's Day, but they aren't necessity geared toward singles coming together to meet other singles."

Whether you choose to celebrate Valentine's Day or ignore it, remember that expressing love and affection for your partner shouldn't be limited to one special day. Take the pressure off the holiday by celebrating your relationship every day.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
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Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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Tropical Depression Claudette has now moved into Alabama and Georgia, leaving with some cloud cover but dry conditions. Most of us will stay dry through this Father's Day but some spotty showers will likely through the late afternoon.
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