The week after Valentine's Day can be a rough one for a lot of people--especially those in relationships.
As most of us know all too well, the holiday comes with a lot of expectation, to say the least. After all, for the month leading up the holiday of love we're bombarded with commercials, store displays, and promotional emails stressing the importance of surprising that special someone with a lavish gift (diamonds, preferably) or, at the very least, a hefty bundle of roses. Nearly every news website produces gift idea round ups and articles about exciting date nights your honey should plan in celebration. Basically, if you don't have the most amazing, intimate, romantic Valentine's Day ever... well, there's something amiss.
In reality, however, most people's V-Days don't look like the ones you see on TV--or in your social media news feeds. And, you know, you might even be feeling a little bummed if your significant other didn't pull out all the stops to commemorate your relationship.
That's totally OK--and beyond normal. Though, you probably don't want to dwell on these feelings of disappointment, right? Here's how to deal with those lingering emotions--and appreciate your partner despite them.
Stop checking Facebook
Have you ever heard the phrase, "to compare is to despair?" (If not, now you have!) Keep this mantra in mind as you read post after post of how amazing your social media friends' V-Days were or see Instagram photo after Instagram photo of home-cooked gourmet meals, office-delivered bouquets and more. That twinge you feel in your gut? It's telling you that you "should" be jealous, or that your significant other "should" have done the same sorts of things.
Stop comparing (and despairing) and log off. Not everything is what it seems in the virtual world, after all. You don't know what preceded those displays of love--A fight? A guilt trip? A polite request for a gourmet meal?--so judging them against your own experience isn't fair to you or to your partner.
Reality check yourself (you know, before you wreck yourself)
People go all out on Valentine's Day for the following reasons (for the most part): They really, really love Valentine's Day, they have the means (as in, money) to do so, or they know their partner will be angry if they don't. If none of these matches your relationship (or your own values or your lifestyle), then there's really no reason to feel bad about not celebrating the holiday to the nines.
Maybe your partner just isn't into the holiday. If you knew that going in--and you didn't necessarily tell him or her that you feel otherwise--then you really can't fault your partner for not going all out. V-Day can bring up a lot of negative associations for people (materialism, pressure, and feeling unable to measure up, for starters), so maybe it's time to have a frank talk about it so you don't go through the same thing next year.
Focus on the positive
Instead of dwelling on what your V-Day lacked, be grateful and happy for what it included: Maybe your partner let you sleep in while he or she took care of the kids. Or maybe you were brought a mug of hot coffee when you woke up. Or maybe you exchanged cards. Valentine's Day doesn't need to be a show-stopping event to be meaningful.
Modify your expectations--and how you communicate them
If you truly crave a V-Day that's out of this world, you need to let your partner know. As much as we expect our significant others to read our minds, or pick up on dropped hints, many of them just don't. If Valentine's Day means the world to you--say so! Or, better yet, treat your partner how you want to be treated by creating a plan for the holiday yourself: In other words, model the type of celebration you desire. Try it next year and see how it goes--you just may be happily surprised.
A version of this post originally appeared on Robbins Brothers' Engaged blog