Valentine's Day is once again upon us, and just like every other year this 'holiday' has existed, men will spend hundreds of hard-earned dollars on presents they aren't sure their partners even want. Christmas wasn't even two months ago; having to buy another present so soon is just guesswork at this point.
But while many people will go home to their loved ones tonight, there's a dark side to this Hallmark holiday that is never spoken about. A 2004 study by US psychologists found that relationship break ups are 27 to 47 per cent higher around Valentine's Day than at any other time of the year.
The pressures of Valentine's Day are unbearable and unavoidable. On the television, radio, social media: wherever you look you're reminded about the one damn day you're supposed to show your partner more love than you would on any other day of the year.
Buy her flowers! Buy a gift! Make a dinner reservation! BE ROMANTIC!
In fact, Australians will spend approximately $800 million this Valentine's Day. But while we splash the cash on roses, chocolates and shiny jewellery, it turns out we might be completely missing the boat.
An ongoing study out of Cornell University indicates that sharing an experience with your partner on Valentine's Day will make you happier and bring you closer together than superficial gifts ever could.
However, it's no secret that Valentine's Day can be a tough one if you're single. No matter how much you believe that Valentine's is just a stupid, commercial holiday, everyone wants to be loved. And with the overwhelming amount of advertising telling us we should love/be loved, it makes single people wonder why they aren't.
But that's where they're wrong - they ARE loved. They've just fallen into the trap of believing their self worth is directly tied to their relationship status.
Loneliness can bring you down, but take heart in a quote from someone I'm not sure of, told to me by someone I can't remember: "Just because I'm alone, doesn't mean I'm lonely." It's a good one.
Although it sounds appealing (and devilish), being the Valentine's Day grinch isn't the right approach. Just because you don't agree with the commercial aspects and your day won't turn out like a Hollywood rom-com script, doesn't mean you have to put a wet blanket over the fiery love of others.
Love is universal and is not reserved solely for lovers, even on Valentine's Day. Numerous studies have proven that platonic, non-romantic friendships can be just as rewarding as romantic relationships and can do wonders for your mental health.
So if you're single and lonely, knowing that there are people just like you feeling the same things, why not go out of your way to spread the love in other (free!) ways? Making a person's day is not as hard as you think. Here are some simple things you can do to strengthen relationships with anyone:
- Engage in small talk and show a genuine interest in the life of someone around you.
- Give someone a hug. Hugs are awesome.
- Write a thank you note to someone who's done something nice for you lately. No one's done anything nice? Write a note thanking them for being in your life.
- Compliments are free - use them! Tell the woman at the water cooler her hair looks nice today, or tell your mate you really like his shoes. Simple as that.
If all else fails and you're still feeling down, remember: it's one day. Don't let a day define you or your emotions. Go home, crack open a beer and put Stephen Still's classic song 'Love The One You're With' on repeat: "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with".