By Amani Salahudeen
Imagine this – it’s Valentine’s Day and you are sitting across from your partner of three years in your favorite five-star restaurant, Traditions, with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” playing softly in the background. They reach across the table to grab your hand, causing your heart to flutter and burst with butterflies. You look up to meet their eyes, blushing as they part their lips to whisper sweet nothings in your ear.
Instead you hear, “We need to talk.”
According to Psychology Today, couples are more likely to break up in the weeks leading up to and following Valentine’s Day, which causes a flurry of heartbroken singles to wonder where everything went wrong and how to cope.
According to Tiara Falcone, a psychology professor at the College, relationships tend to fail due to a lack of communication.
“I think that (both romantic and platonic) relationships flourish when the parties openly communicate with each other,” she said. “Share positive feelings with you partner and if there are issues, bring them up. Don’t wait for the situation to get worse.”
Shehara Yoosuf, who is earning a doctorate degree in psychology from Immaculata University, added that forgetting to show appreciation for each other can also be a factor in relationship issues.
“Remind yourself why you fell in love with your significant other,” Yoosuf said. “Remember that your partner is the one who makes you forget your troubles and makes you genuinely happy. Make sure the other person knows if you … appreciate them. Plan date nights even when it’s not Valentine’s Day.”
Fostering relationships takes effort from both partners, and while romantic comedies tend to portray how easy it can be to fall in love at first sight, experts also agreed that you can fall out of love just as quickly if there isn’t a sense of true companionship and a willingness to stick around even after the initial butterflies fade.
“Often, the early stages of falling in love is merely a measure of infatuation with the other person,” Falcone said. “When a relationship is new, infatuation is high. As the newness of the relationship fades, oftentimes the infatuation with the other person fades as well. However, I think that true love – love that develops over time – does not fade as easily, as it is not affected by infatuation.”
Yoosuf agreed that this “honeymoon phase” can be misleading in the beginning of a relationship.
“It is definitely possible for someone to fall out of love as quickly as you can fall in love,” she said. “It could also be due to the hormones (as the) honeymoon phase is very real. Maybe you hit it off. Then reality sinks in.”
Throughout the semester, the stress of balancing school, work, family commitments and other activities can put a strain on relationship maintenance. However, Falcone believes that not all relationships involving busy schedules are doomed to fail.
“I think it is important for couples to spend time together. Life is busy and as a result, our relationships oftentimes take a back seat to other things in our life — our jobs, our children, sports, family commitments,” Falcone said. “I think that the more quality time that couples spend together, the better their relationship will be.”
Yoosuf explained that once the honeymoon phase ends, couples start to forget the reason why they got together in the first place.
“Oftentimes, couples will have unrealistic expectations and as a result, it gets worse,” Yoosuf said. “Be grateful to your partner and vice versa. It’s important to show one another that you are willing to make it work.”
For singles feeling pressured to find a partner for Valentine’s Day, Falcone and Yoosuf agreed that love comes in many forms and that this holiday can still be a day of celebration even if you’re not in a romantic relationship.
“If you’re single and looking for someone, let go of your expectations,” Yoosuf said. “Be open to anything and you might just be pleasantly surprised.”
Yoosuf gave advice for potential lovebirds looking to learn more about romance.
“I recommend ‘Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman because it is worth the read and it demonstrates that people have different languages of love,” Yoosuf said.
Falcone stressed that although being single on Valentine’s Day can be difficult for some, there is not as much pressure to be in a relationship these days as there was in the past. She said that being single today is more socially acceptable than it used to be since it’s become the norm for young people to establish their careers before searching for love.
“I think that for single people, Valentine’s Day means dealing with all of the love and happiness that you see other people sharing, either through gestures, dinners or gifts,” Falcone said. “Many singles might be saddened that they don’t have that in their lives, and others might feel pressure to find that perfect partner. ”
Although Valentine’s Day is gift-wrapped for couples in love, it is also a holiday where individuals – whether they’re in a relationship or still looking – can practice self-love.
“Valentine’s Day is not just a day for couples to share their love. It is a day for everyone to share love,” Falcone said. “Don’t get caught up in the marketing of the day. Make plans with other single friends or do something for yourself.”
Whether you plan on indulging in chocolate-covered strawberries with your significant other or celebrating the single life with a bottle of sparkling cider and Netflix this Valentine’s Day, it’s important to take the time to appreciate everyone you love in your life including yourself.