Valentine’s Day is indeed the most romantic and sweetest day of the year, but with all that romance comes a lot of pressure—and probably some unmet expectations. That’s because you may have built up in your mind how your partner should profess their love for you. You may also compare yourself to other people and their celebrations.
If Valentine’s Day ends up leaving you feeling more disappointed than loved, here are six things you can do to work through your disappointments and make your relationship stronger.
1. Check Your Expectations
You may have certain expectations when it comes to Valentine’s Day, but maybe what you really need is a reality check. Were you expecting diamonds and a gourmet dinner when you know that your partner is stressed out over money? You may be expecting too much. Were you expecting a marriage proposal when you know your partner isn’t ready for marriage? You may be expecting too much.
The thing about expectations is that if you don’t share what yours are, they aren’t going to be met. You partner isn’t a mind reader, and if Valentine’s Day wasn’t celebrated in a way you saw fit, it’s likely because you didn’t communicate your expectations. You should have said something.
2. Acknowledge the Positive
Instead of focusing on what your partner didn’t do, or the ways they fell short, redirect your attention to the ways they showed their love. Not everyone speaks the same romantic language—your partner refilling your car’s washer fluid may be a labor of love even if you don’t interpret the gesture that way. Perhaps your honey bought you flowers, but they aren’t your favorite ones. Or maybe your beloved opted to go out for dinner when you wished they had cooked for you. Let’s be honest: These are not real disappointments.
3. Resist the Urge to Be Passive Aggressive
Being direct with your feelings is hard work. It forces you to be vulnerable and it puts you in an uncomfortable position of believing you are worthy of expressing your needs. As a result, it may feel easier to be cold or give the silent treatment to your partner in the days after Valentine’s Day instead of communicating your disappointment. But being honest and open is worth more than a dozen roses. In fact, having the courage to express yourself will bring your relationship to a more authentic place.
4. Talk to Your Partner
Explain to your partner how you feel post-Valentine’s Day. Don’t blame or point fingers. Use “I” statements to express your disappointment and take responsibility if you didn’t share your holiday wants with them. This way, your partner won’t feel attacked and they will be more open to hearing your feelings. You never know, maybe they were expecting you to do something for them!
5. Share Your Romantic Wants
Use this situation as an opportunity to share your perspective on Valentine’s Day—and romance in general. Share what gestures you find romantic and be curious about what your partner has to say on the topic. You both want each other to feel loved and cared for; you may just have different ideas of what that really means. This is a great chance for you two to connect and deepen your understanding of your respective love languages.
6. Reevaluate the Relationship
If all of the above just doesn’t apply to your particular situation, then you may have a bigger issue on your hands. Maybe you did clearly express your needs, and your partner chose not to listen. Perhaps you said how much you love Valentine’s Day and you really wanted to do something special and your partner just didn’t seem to care. If your disappointment runs deeper than just this holiday, examine if this is the partnership you want to be in.