How to have a Valentines Day Full of Love (5 Don'ts & 5 Do's)

Photo by NeonBrand, Unsplash

Photo by NeonBrand, Unsplash

Oh boy.

Here we go.

It’s Valentines Day…

I know Valentines Day is supposed to be about love but… Sometimes it becomes more about dashed dreams and comparison. And it’s true what they say: Comparison is the thief of joy.

Valentines Day sometimes feels more like a tricky gauntlet where on either side are darts of disappointment and failed expectations and less like the (sigh) “Day of Love” it’s hyped up to be.

Honestly. Valentines Day has sometimes been a one-way ticket to Fightsville with my significant other.

Don’t let this happen to you.

I want it to be about love, don’t you?

So here are my pro tips to actually finding love in your Valentines Day- whether you’re single, in a relationship, married with diaper-clad children or whatevs…. This is my gift to you this holiday. Let’s be honest: It’s a gift to myself too. My humble advice from years of feeling a little sad after Valentines was over. FYI: I’m going to write like I’m giving myself a good whack over the side of the head. I may not be as sensitive as I try to be sometimes. It’s not you, it’s me.

Here are some Don’ts followed by some Do’s.

  1. Don’t watch The Bachelor (or any of it’s equally emotionally-draining media counterparts).

I know. You may be tempted to stop reading already. But hear me out. I spent years watching The Bachelor. I was a Psychology major after all. I love people and how they interact. I had a great why. But honestly? What do you think it does to our brains (not to mention our real life relationships) to watch a bunch of gorgeous young people go out on dream dates, with perfect lighting, a nonstop assortment of designer clothes and hair and makeup stylists at their fingertips? Do you think watching their “love stories” unfold is going to make you feel better about your own life? Um NO! And if you’re one of those immune people who really thinks that by watching other people live in a fantasy world it is not going to affect your real life, please reach out to me and tell me your ways. The Bachelor was fun to watch. It was a drain for my marriage.

2. Don’t feed your emotional angst with copious amounts of self-soothing chocolate, ice cream or sugar.

Ironically, I’m writing this while popping a miniature chocolate Reeses into my mouth. But seriously, when was the last time you ate a whole pint of Ice cream and felt great after? Or when was the last time you ate more than five pieces of chocolate and felt fabulous? If, like me, you are prone to chocolate bingeing when life gives you a case of the wah-wahs, remember that in small amounts- okay. But in large amounts, chocolate will make you feel worse, possibly give you acne, and mess with your blood sugar levels making you even crankier and moodier than when you started.

3. Don’t go on a scroll fest.

Social media can be a powerful tool. I use it. I like it. I learn things. But guarding my heart from comparison, disappointment and discouragement, I may choose to avoid looking at all the beautiful pictures today. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter… One day off won’t kill you. And not seeing those perfect roses he got her, or the ring he spent years saving for, or the delicious dinner that she made for him, or the handmade cookies she made for her kids with their names perfectly drawn across the front, you know what? It won’t ruin your friendship if tomorrow you like it all. But today, consider doing your body good and stay away from the comparison trap. Maybe your husband stinks at being romantic, and maybe your kids are getting store-bought clearance Valentines that you threw together at the last minute- it’s okay. There’s no race. And your husband is no less fantastic. Your kids are not deprived. It’s all good.

4. Don’t isolate.

Don’t go hide in a corner hoping he figures out what he did wrong this time. Don’t go find a Netflix movie to become your new BFF. Don’t find a book to escape reality. Don’t withdraw to a lonely place. I know it can be tempting. But don’t hide from the real world.

5. Don’t listen to sad music.

Did you ever see Bridget Jones’ Diary? “ALL by Myself?” How many of us can laugh with a little discomfort at that intro scene because we’ve been there? My favorite sad music has been courtesy Frank Sinatra, Amy Winehouse, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Kelly Clarkston. Don’t go to sadness just because. Yes- life is hard. But turning depressing music on to just wallow in the sadness? C’mon. We can do better.

Which brings me to the Dos.

6. Do fill your mind with good things.

Simone Weil famously said, “There are only two things that pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is affliction.” Look for beauty. Use your senses. Taste, touch, smell, hear and pursue the good things. Become a master curator of what you consume. The Apostle Paul said, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) In practice, this may mean turning on some positive music (I personally love Lauren Daigle, Hillsong, and some oldies), it may mean, going for a walk and breathing in the fresh air. It may look like reading the Word of God. Look for the good and you will find it (hey Pollyanna said that- a great movie btw).

7. Do look for ways to love on others.

There’s a lot of people struggling, right? Why not be the reason someone smiles today? Valentines Day is the perfect excuse for writing to that loved one, messaging the long lost friend, paying for the drink of the person behind you in the drive-thru, texting that person God keeps putting on your mind, holding the door open for a stranger… Look for ways to love. It feels great. And it’s life-giving. Real love is about serving.

8. Do forgive.

Bitterness will make you sick. A friend recently reminded me it’s like drinking poison and hoping someone else will get hurt. It’s a terrible idea. I could write a book about the ways bitterness has personally affected my life. It’s ugly and it doesn’t just affect the person you’re holding a grudge against. It’s a terrible poison. I know it’s easy to say just forgive. So I won’t- just go read what the Bible says about love and forgiveness and pray for God to speak to you. God doesn’t contradict himself. He desires for us to love and forgive one another. (Matthew 18:21-22, Matthew 6:14-15, Ephesians 4:31-32) “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13) Please, if you only take one piece of advice from me today- please choose to pursue forgiveness.

9. Do cherish the love you receive.

A close friend of mine gave me a bracelet that had this advice about cherishing on it. I didn’t realize it was about being thankful for what you have. For years, I would feel disappointed on Valentines Day. And truth is, I still fight it. My husband is not a romantic man who spends months planning get-aways or gifts. It’s not his love language. My husband is good at other things. He cooks and cleans and plays with our kids. And he will drop whatever he’s doing to come help me if he thinks I need it. But if I compare him to some Hollywood leading man, some Pinterest post about the perfect Valentines, etc. he loses his shine pretty quickly. So my advice is practice gratitude for what you do have. If you don’t have a significant other, but want one, pray and ask God and also ask him to find things to be grateful for now, in this season of your life. If you have children and your friend’s kid makes them a list of twenty-five things they love about their mom and your child does nothing but kisses you goodnight and asks you to read them a bedtime story, count yourself blessed. Cherish it. Hold onto it. Make note of it. Don’t take it for granted. Today is a gift and what you have- whatever it is, is a gift to be received with gratitude. This moment, this season, it will pass.

10. Do have a dance partay and embrace what your momma gave you.

LOL. Find joy! Be silly. Turn on the music, don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself- if you have two left feet, laugh, cook that meal and if it burns, oh well- you tried! Wear the dress you love but you’re afraid makes your hips look big, just enjoy what you have in this moment! You’re alive and free to dance. Do enjoy it. Teach those around you to enjoy what they have to.

So now that I’ve dispensed this advice, I’m feeling pepped up. Excuse me while I go clean some dirty dishes, make some heart-shaped toast, ignore the clutter and hopefully practice my own advice. God is good, my friend.

Today, “we love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

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