How to deal with an off-site Valentine’s Day

How to deal with an off-site Valentine's Day

How to deal with an off-site Valentine’s Day


I no longer love my distant partner; contrary to the popular myth that long-distance relationships are doomed, we are now married and living under the same roof. But Valentine’s Day reminds me of the toughest days of our long-distance relationship. Whenever February comes around, I feel a slight pain in my chest because visiting each other at that time of year almost never fits into our professional schedules.

The sadness I’ve been through this holiday season is astonishing because I’ve never really cared about Valentine’s Day. I’ve always thought of it as something created by shrewd and creative minds in the greeting card and jewelry industry. As a scholar in a demanding field, I have a lot of distractions. Still, my partner’s absence on Valentine’s Day upsets me. I don’t know what to do – other than wait for the day to end.

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After consulting with some experts, I have some idea of ​​how I feel and how to handle it differently.

The first thing I’ve learned is that what I’m doing in those dark February days is mourning. “Romantic vacations can be tough because there’s sadness. You see all these ads and you’re not involved. You’re almost more Be aware of your partner’s absence,” said Elizabeth Earnshaw, a licensed marriage and family therapist, author of “I Want to Make This Work: An Inclusive Guide to Solving the Most Difficult Relationship Issues We Face in the Modern Age.” author of the book. ” “The pressure comes from Valentine’s Day or anniversaries that we’re told,” she said.

Part of the pressure comes from strong social messages. “Unless you work entirely from home and don’t use the media, it’s hard to escape the cultural influence of a romantic vacation,” says Paul Krause, a Michigan-licensed therapist and clinical director of Healthy Living Counseling in Grand Rapids. Even if someone doesn’t think they or their partner is interested in celebrating Valentine’s Day, advertising and media can still play a profound role in how they feel about a relationship, Krause said. If we’re in a long-distance relationship, we may be triggered to think and consider the arrangement,” he said, but it’s not always pleasant. “Valentine’s Day can be a wound. “

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Social media—the ever-present elephant in the room—may also bring mixed feelings to those who can’t see loved ones but can watch others celebrate in real time. “For single people or people in long-distance relationships, you have all these subliminal cues that can lead to comparisons and expected ruptures and failures,” Krause said.

In retrospect, I have to consider whether my own use of social media over the holidays has influenced how I feel about this Valentine’s Day relationship. I have witnessed many friends enjoying romantic dinners and dates on my social media, and I have seen many students openly express their love on campus. No wonder I miss my partner as much as I do.

Sometimes cravings turn into doubts or worries. “Valentine’s Day in a long-distance relationship can sometimes spark conflict that otherwise wouldn’t exist,” Earnshaw said. It’s not just the media that affects how a person feels about their partner; well-meaning family and friends may offer unhelpful advice, such as saying on Valentine’s Day “if your partner really likes the relationship, they will stay with you” .

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Now that my husband and I are separated from Valentine’s Day, I’ve been thinking about how we can better support our relationship during those years when we couldn’t be together.

In general, there’s a lot of advice on fostering a long-distance relationship — like checking in on each other’s feelings, surprising each other with gifts, and even texting to connect with each other. But for couples who can’t meet in theory—one of the most romantic days of the year, or other meaningful occasions like birthdays and anniversaries—few discussions involve complex emotions.

Sex and relationships consultant and expert Logan Levkoff says long-distance couples should try to do things that help their partners get along. “To me, the most romantic thing anyone can do is make a mixtape.” We laugh at this pre-Internet example of how people used to connect romantically. “But even now, [creating] Playlists take time; you have to think about the order of the music. It’s like an art. Your partner can play it on the way to work; it creates a warm and fuzzy feeling for the day. And of course, Zoom and FaceTime,” she said. Trying to be involved in your partner’s day, even if you can’t be with them, is key to getting through it emotionally intact, she says.

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Krause emphasizes that couples who are separated—even those who are not—should create a shared meaning about the day and how to handle it. “It’s important that the couple discuss deeply in advance what a romantic vacation means to them,” he said. “Whether it’s giving roses or cards, or even making fun of [the holiday] Together. But it needs to be defined. Otherwise, this is a recipe for misunderstanding. “

I pride myself on being relatively low-key when it comes to holiday expectations, so my partner and I fly most of the time. Because we don’t want to put too much pressure on each other to “act”, we’re not very deliberate about what makes us happy. Looking back, I see that we may have missed opportunities to make meaningful connections in more difficult days — or weeks or months.

Friends and family helping loved ones navigate a long-distance relationship can learn from expert advice. Earnshaw recommends giving what she calls a “supportive response” during conversations about a loved one’s long-distance relationship. “Ask open-ended questions or provide verification phrases. Show curiosity by asking [the partner’s] background, or express excitement by saying “I know it’s a 12 hour drive, but I’m glad you saw them.” “

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This supportive response is in stark contrast to what Earnshaw describes as a “transition response” when the person no In a long-distance relationship, try to make a connection by shifting the conversation to themselves. I was reminded of an acquaintance who lamented about driving 45 minutes every weekend to see her partner when I hadn’t seen my partner in three months.

All the experts I spoke with agreed that clear communication is critical to success when it comes to spending Valentine’s Day and other romantic occasions with a distant partner. “In many ways, people who live nearby take it for granted,” Levkov said.

As someone close to my partner, I’ve learned from what we should do when we’re apart, rather than muddle through until the end of the day. But these tips are also useful for people who aren’t in a long-distance relationship — building expectations and communication are important in any relationship. This year, my spouse and I started the conversation a few weeks before Valentine’s Day, and while the stakes seemed much lower, I’m glad we did. Neither of us (as usual) had a concrete idea of ​​how we thought the day should go, so when I saw a local ad for “puppy yoga” I bought a ticket. For the past few years, we couldn’t possibly do yoga with puppies (first because of distance, then because of the pandemic), and it’s a romantic getaway that I’m really excited about.

Christina Wyman is a Lansing, Michigan-based writer and teacher and the author of the forthcoming middle-level novel “Jawbreaker.”she is on twitter @CBWymanWriter.

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