It’s February and whether you are in a relationship or not, the pressure to be in LOOOOVVVEEEE is at its peak. For those single ladies out there, it feels like a cruel reminder that you are #foreveralone- but can that reminder lead to dangerous relationships?
In the popular sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, one character refers to the day before Valentine’s day as “Desperation Day.” The idea is that the closer it is to Valentine’s Day, the more desperate women will be to be involved in any sort of relationship, and therefore, they will “settle” for men they might have rejected before. According to the character, this makes it a perfect time to hook-up with women, especially if you’re a guy who usually strikes out.
While “Desperation Day” is meant to be a joke made by a sitcom, there is actually a grain of truth in the idea.
Gail Ukockis, in Women’s Issues for a New Generation, suggests: “Both men and women may face social pressures to have a romantic partner, especially on Valentine’s Day. The attitude of ‘any boyfriend/girlfriend is better than nothing’ increases the likelihood that a person looking for romance may end up with an abuser.” This idea that we need to be in a relationship, at any cost, can cause a lot of damage.
While not everyone who is desperate on Valentine’s Day falls for an abusive partner or ends up in an abusive relationship, they are perhaps more vulnerable to it than they normally might be.
Believing that being in love is more important than who you are in love with can have dangerous, life-altering consequences.
Modern depictions of romance aren’t helping our conceptions of healthy relationships either.
Popular songs and movies depict love as all-consuming. It makes people possessive, jealous, and dependent.
Take for instance, the song “Jealous” that came out a couple years ago by Nick Jonas. The song is about a man who believes that everyone is trying to “steal” his girlfriend. Though the speaker in the song says “I know you [his significant other] love me,” he claims that it is “...my right to be hellish/ I still get jealous.” Even though he knows that his girlfriend loves him and isn’t interested in being with someone else, he still feels justified in being possessive and jealous. He doesn’t see a problem with interrupting every conversation that his girlfriend has with another guy. He claims it is his right.
Let’s get something straight.
No one ever has the right to be possessive of you or to stop you from talking to other people that they are threatened by.
In fact, isolating someone from their friends and family can be a sign of abuse. The speaker in the song “Jealous” obviously frames this as a compliment, saying he has to keep his s/o away from others because “...you’re too sexy, beautiful.”
Many abusers use these sorts of “compliments” as justification for forcing someone to spend time with only them.
While we’re sure that Nick Jonas didn’t mean to suggest abusive behavior is okay by performing this song, we still think it is important to point out how problematic it is. “Jealous” is just one of millions of songs to romanticize abusive behavior.
So how do we learn to tune out the problematic scripts while still being able to jam to our favorite Jo-Bros songs?
The best thing that you can do to reclaim Valentine’s Day for yourself is affirm your own self-worth.
We have a tendency to think of love as something that takes two individuals and makes them one entity.
We have a tendency to believe that someone “completes” us; that we need someone else to make us “whole.”
This is the opposite of true.
You are whole in and of yourself, just as you are.
If you find someone else who you love, they should compliment you. Significant others should improve your world, not be your world.
Take some time this Valentine’s Day to let yourself have a soothing bubble bath, indulge in some chocolate (or wait until the 15th and buy it discount like me lol), or write a list of affirmations for yourself.
If you are in a relationship and want to celebrate with your partner, perhaps you could give each other affirmations that recognize your individual talents or characteristics.
Tell each other the way you have improved each other's lives, not that you couldn’t live without them.