“I thought it was understood that I’d want to do something special for Valentine’s Day”
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved the idea of love. I loved the feeling of love. Coming from a dysfunctional home, the idea of love was never modelled to me. Instead, I would look at all the Valentine’s Day décor at the malls and the Valentine’s special date night deals at the restaurants. I yearned to experience these things one day.
February 14th, 2019 was my first Valentine’s Day with my current partner. I didn’t know at the time, but my partner is the type of person who is naturally fairly unfazed by Valentine’s Day. We pay for dates alternately, so since he had paid the last time, I had booked a Valentine’s Day dinner for both of us. I was all glammed up and made a cute card for him.
That night, when I noticed that he didn’t bring any card or flowers, I did become a little upset. I confessed this to him after our date. He was a bit taken aback, but apologized profusely. That was when I realized that I can’t expect my partner to magically know that I love celebrating this day without prompting. I never communicated that to him and hoped he would just “assume” what I wanted.
Jumping forward exactly one year, my partner showed up at my house with a bouquet of roses and chocolates. This time we had we worked on our communication skills and were mindful about how to keep each other’s love tanks full.
When I reflect on these incidents, I realize the importance of speaking openly and navigating our different love languages. I respect the narrative about “not needing to celebrate Valentine’s Day, as romance should be celebrated every day” but I also do not see the harm in putting in some extra effort to enjoy this special day.
My partner and I are now more in tune with each other’s love languages and ensure that we spend the day doing activities that we both enjoy. Our celebrations are not fancy or over the top, but they work for us.
Last year, we spent the day by first watching Aircraft Investigation and The Umbrella Academy as my partner loves those shows. He did, however, have to tolerate the million questions that I asked. For me, I love getting dressed up as I barely get the opportunity in my day-to-day life. He has learned to respect that my particular love language involves not asking “are you ready yet” after 15-minute intervals.
I would consider myself as a realist romantic – I came to this epiphany last year. As much as I love the idea of a “Disney princess” romance, I am aware that love is not all glitter, champagne, roses and butterflies. Romance does not have to be fit for the big screens, as long as it makes your heart content.
I learned the hard way (thanks to my previous unhealthy relationships) that I do not have to be swept off my feet. I want someone to grow alongside, as romantic love will never solve all my problems. I am a whole person that is deserving and worthy of love, irrespective of whether I have a partner or not.
Having said this, there are days when our long-distance relationship causes me to simply break down. We both have demanding jobs, and get to meet up around once a month. We don’t have the luxury of celebrating romance for the other 364 days of the year. But when I’m getting up in the early morning, catching public transport whilst I silently curse capitalism, and working my 2 jobs… the extra effort to plan something meaningful and fulfilling for one special day isn’t too much.
It’s also important to remember the other supports we have in our lives, as romance alone cannot fulfil a person’s every need! My girlfriends and I have a tradition of celebrating Galentine’s Day each year (on FaceTime, as we live in different corners of the world). I cherish my tribe, as we take a toast to honor being together through thick and thin – and through whatever is happening in our love lives!
You might find this blog a bit confusing about what my stance actually is, so to cut it short – you do you! Celebrate as much or as little as you (and your partner, if you have one) see fit. Remember the importance of slowing down and smelling the roses.
This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.
To book your first call visit: https://my.efriend.org.au/preregistration/