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Single on Valentine’s Day?

With Valentine’s Day coming up, we are bombarded with images of happy couples, chocolates, flowers, cards, and jewelry…but most impactful of all is the underlying sentiment that these images convey: You need to be in a relationship to be happy. This can take an emotional toll that people sometimes aren’t even aware of, and thus is the focus of this week’s blog.

It seems that in the United States there has an unhealthy obsession with the idea of finding that perfect person and being in the perfect relationship. Creating the illusion that if you aren’t sharing Instagram perfect photos as proof of these things, then maybe there’s something wrong with you. Such a narrow and intent focus in the media on romantic relationships creates a lot of pressure for people, even on the subconscious level. You may end up thinking: why isn’t this happening for me when it feels like everyone else seems to find it so easy. Or, what’s wrong with me if I am alone?

The Toll of Romance Obsession 

In general, the obsession with romance is year-round, but people often become more acutely aware of their single relationship status on and around Valentine’s Day. It may seem like no big deal. But when it looks like every one of your friends is in a relationship or has a date for the night and you don’t, it can leave you feeling some sort of way. Often feeling left out, inferior, or damaged.  

Harmful consequences of living in a society with a hyper-focus on relationships. 

  • Irrational thinking: As stated above, you might think that EVERYONE but you is in a happy relationship. This is not true, but your feelings may try to persuade you otherwise.  
  • Increased loneliness: You may have tons of loving friends and family, but having blinders on when it comes to focusing on your “lack” of a meaningful relationship can increase feelings of loneliness. 
  • Tanking self-worth: Some people start to think that the reason they don’t have a great relationship is because they aren’t worthy of one. These thoughts can come creeping up and take a toll on your self-worth. 
  • Obsessiveness: If you truly believe you need a relationship to be happy, you may become a “serial” dater and spend a lot of time and energy trying to find “the one,” sometimes to your own detriment.  
  • Staying in situations: If you value relationships above all else…even yourself, then you may stay in harmful and toxic situations for the sake of just saving the relationship.

No, We’re Not Hating On Relationships 

To clarify, this blog isn’t meant to discourage you from entering into or desiring positive intimate relationships. We’re human. It’s natural for us to want connections with other people. What this blog is meant to do is lead you to become aware of the pressures surrounding you to find a perfect someone or to not judge yourself if that hasn’t happened. The media sells to you this idea that there is one perfect person out there for you and all you have to do is find them. Well, what happens when that isn’t the case? People often blame themselves, or judge themselves for having other priorities, like school, career, travel, etc. Placing pursuing your passions as a priority over securing the perfect relationship isn’t selfish or shameful. Many people are happy and thriving doing just that, despite what the media says they should want.  

Why It’s Not Just Ok, But it’s HEALTHY to be Single 

Having time to solidify who you are, what you stand for, and what gives your life meaning is important. If relationships are the only thing that gives your life meaning, then you are setting yourself up for devastation should that relationship ever end. Make sure to build up other areas of your life as well. This can include hobbies, recreational activities, finding meaningful employment, pursuing creative endeavors, learning something new, etc. Ultimately, if you aren’t a healthy single person, you more than likely will not be healthy in a relationship, meaning you need to work to be emotionally healthy BY YOURSELF before you enter into an intimate relationship. No one is perfect, people are evolving and working on themselves daily, but energy should be regularly poured into yourself, not just another person. If not you will surely run empty.

Mindful Relationship Searching 

When we live in a society that crams down our throat the idea that you need to be in a relationship to be happy, it is so important to be mindful of your motives when looking for a relationship. What is meant by this? Look at your reasoning for getting into and staying in relationships. There are lots of places and opportunities to ‘meet’ people. Online services, social centers and ‘fix ups’ from friends bring new people in and out of your life, but are they the RIGHT type of people for you. Before stepping into this battle grounds for the single person looking for a relationship, fully think through what a sucessful relationship would mean to you. 

things to consider when aiming to change your single status: 
  • What are my priorities?
  • Am I afraid to be alone?
  • Does this person have compatible goals and values with me?
  • Am I accepting anything that I would normally deem as unacceptable?
  • What or who is influencing my partner choice?
  • Is there a difference between what I want, what I think I should want, and what I am actually pursuing?
  • How are my past relationships influencing my current choices?

These are deep questions that you might not readily have the answer to, and that’s ok. It’s hard to self-reflect and pick apart the WHY of our actions. Take some time to reflect on each of these questions. Explore how past relationships may or may not have aligned with who you are now or who you want to be moving forward. If you find yourself feeling stuck and unsure how process this or are overwhelmed by your own answers reach out to your supports. Your real supports, those that can be honest without being hurtful and who genuinely have your best interest at heart.

Ongoing Support when you struggle with being single

We understand that not everyone has those honest and accepting supports. If you need to add to your support team a trained therapist can help you do just that: unpack and untangle some of the underlying things that may be driving you away rather than toward what is healthy for you. If you are in the Lawrence County or Mercer County areas make an appointment with Angelus today Our therapists are available if you feel stuck with your relationship history and would like to process relational issues. Angelus has offices in New Castle and Hermitage and offers virtual based counseling when appropriate.

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Blog Credit: Natalie Drozda, MA, LPC is a PH.D student in Counseling Education and Supervision at Duquesne University & therapist at Angelus Therapeutic Services

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