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Valentine’s Day: romantic or row-causer?

Posted Feb 14 2013 5:00am

Featured guest post in association with Littlewoods

Valentine’s Day is, of course, a holiday designed for lovers, so perhaps it’s understandable that some singletons will feel a little bit “bah humbug” come 14th February. But is it necessarily plain sailing for those in relationships, or does the pressure to make a massive V-Day gesture actually cause unnecessary conflict?

The arguments against Valentine’s Day usually start with complaints about it being a manufactured holiday created by greetings cards companies in a cynical ploy to make more money. This stance is fine if you’re in a relationship with someone who agrees, but if you’re dating someone who thinks Valentine’s Day is wonderfully romantic, then you’re likely to find yourself getting the silent treatment if you don’t at least present them with a card.

However, even if you’re fortunate enough to be in a relationship where you both like to celebrate Valentine’s Day with equal enthusiasm, your troubles aren’t necessarily over. The holiday can cause undue stress for both partners if your other half has high expectations that you can’t live up to. Stress is one of the most common instigators for arguments, so planning an elaborate Valentine’s Day treat can sometimes backfire and cause disappointment and ensuing rows in the run-up to the big day.

Psychological studies have shown that couples who enter relationships with unrealistically high expectations are more likely to find themselves at the centre of conflict. So if your partner does have high expectations that you’re unable to fulfil – or vice versa – it’s obvious that arguments are going to ensue, no matter what you do.

When an external party becomes involved, the potential for Valentine’s Day conflict is even more heightened. Traditionally, Valentine’s Day was about sending a card to someone you secretly admired – and although you might think it’s a bit of fun when a work colleague sends you a Valentine’s card, your other half might not find it quite so amusing.

On the other hand, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to be romantic. Some couples might maintain that they don’t need an excuse, but such gestures do tend to get forgotten about in long-term relationships. Scheduling one day a year to leave work on time, dress up nicely and treat your other half to a special night out (or in), therefore, can’t be a bad idea.

There’s no need to spend a lot of money to make someone happy on Valentine’s Day, either – you can find a range of  Valentine’s gifts at which are sure to impress without breaking the bank. The best way to enjoy the day is to manage your expectations realistically and just relax – if you’re both under financial strain, don’t feel pressured to splash out. Similarly, if you’re not an amazing cook, don’t get frazzled by trying to whip up an elaborate home cooked meal – why not go for dinner instead?

As cheesy as it may sound, Valentine’s Day is about celebrating your relationship – so don’t let stress or idealised goals take the enjoyment out of spending time together.


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