Valentine’s Day can be a trigger for memories of a relationship that has been lost. Heartbreak is painful and heavy, and for some, it can feel like a failure; a relationship has not been kept but instead ended. For others, it can lead to impulsive behaviour.
Many people choose to enter new relationships on a whim as this feels like progress forward in the short term. Unfortunately, these relationships are frequently unsatisfactory in the long term, eventually ending, and the cycle starts again. It can be hard to know what to do next in place of this when there’s no crystal ball to help see into the future.
Dr Rumina Taylor is an award-winning clinical psychologist and chief clinical officer at HelloSelf. With clinical training from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London and an array of expertise in couples therapy, she shares how you this Valentine’s Day healthily if you’re suffering from heartbreak.
‘Firstly, remember that to develop and build a loving relationship with someone, you need more than a day. It may be helpful to consider that many others will feel like you about this day. It’s normal.’
‘Take the opportunity to consider the relationship you have with yourself. It would help if you were nurtured, and Valentine’s Day can be the perfect chance to feel your self-care and look after your needs. What can you plan that will give you a sense of pleasure and achievement? Who could you connect or reconnect with? Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to only be about romantic relationships.’
‘Why not do something special for someone you care about? Many of us value relationships with partners rather than friends and family. These relationships are just as meaningful and fulfilling.’
‘If you feel sad or worried about your relationship status, try and identify anything running through your mind that might be causing these complicated feelings; ask yourself if these thoughts are facts or opinions? Some people don’t feel worthy unless they have a significant other. We know our self-worth is not solely dependent on whether we are in a successful relationship.’
She added: ‘We all have many strengths, other things and people in our lives that matter. Spend some time identifying all the things that make you who you are. Try and recall examples of when you felt worthy that was separate from a romantic relationship. Setting time aside to reflect on these can be particularly helpful.’
‘Sometimes, we may need a push to get out of our heads and back into our lives. If that’s the case, engaging in an activity that pulls us into the present moment can be helpful too–for example, doing some guided exercise such as attending a class with an instructor or watching a film that captures your attention. You could also practice mindfulness meditations. These could be activities such as mindful walking or guided exercises focused on breathing.’
Dr Rumina said: ‘If you do feel ready to start a new romantic relationship, why not use Valentine’s Day for this? Plan the steps you would take to begin the process and make sure each step is small. How can you meet people? How could it feel relaxed and fun and not pressured and scary? Who could you ask for help or advice?’
‘If this doesn’t work out, that’s also OK. We are our best selves when we have the opportunity to learn, so if it doesn’t go to plan or how you wanted, make sure you take one learning from it. What went well? What did you do well? What did the potential partner do well? What would you do differently next time?’
‘Lastly, don’t forget that Valentine’s Day is just a day, and love can be expressed anytime, anywhere, on any day. Valentine’s Day will come and often go as our feelings do. Also, remember that you are so much more than that. If you‘re struggling with ongoing feelings of loneliness, worry or sadness, it might be a good idea to reach out to a therapist. They can support you to understand better and manage these feelings, and importantly feel like yourself again.’