Valentine's Day, traditionally a celebration of love and connection, can paradoxically evoke feelings of loneliness for many of us. This day often emphasises romantic relationships, and societal expectations can create a sense of exclusion for those who may not currently be in a romantic partnership.
Remember: You’re not alone in feeling lonely
Many of us feel lonely, and not just on one day of the year. A new survey by Nextdoor in partnership with Marmalade Trust shows that 85% of UK adults have experienced loneliness within the last 12 months. Almost half (44%) feel chronically lonely, with younger people feeling lonely most often.
We recognise the complexities of loneliness, and the way in which we all experience loneliness differently. There are different types of loneliness, such as emotional loneliness (when someone you were very close with is no longer there, such as partner or close friend), social loneliness (when you feel like you’re lacking a wider social network of friends, neighbours or colleagues) or situational loneliness (loneliness which you only feel at certain times like Sundays, Christmas or Valentine's Day).
Let's delve into the reasons why this day can feel particularly lonely...
Valentine's Day is heavily marketed as a time for romantic gestures, lavish gifts, and elaborate expressions of love. This societal pressure can leave people who are not in a romantic relationship feeling left out or inadequate. The emphasis on romantic love can inadvertently contribute to a sense of isolation for those who are not currently romantically involved.
Comparison and expectations
Social media platforms often showcase curated images of romantic gestures, candlelit dinners, and elaborate surprises on Valentine's Day. These images can create unrealistic expectations and lead to comparisons, causing feelings of inadequacy or a fear of missing out. The perceived gap between personal experiences and the idealised representations can intensify loneliness.
Reminders of loss
For people who have experienced the loss of a loved one or a recent breakup, Valentine's Day can serve as a poignant reminder of what once was. The absence of a partner or the memory of a past relationship can amplify feelings of grief and solitude on a day that celebrates togetherness.
Lack of inclusive celebrations
Valentine's Day celebrations often focus on romantic partnerships, overlooking the importance of various forms of love and connection. This narrow focus can leave individuals without a romantic partner feeling marginalised and overlooked, contributing to a heightened sense of loneliness.
Cultural emphasis on romantic love
The cultural narrative surrounding Valentine's Day tends to prioritise romantic love over other meaningful connections. This emphasis can inadvertently undermine the significance of platonic, familial, and self-love, leaving individuals without a romantic partner feeling undervalued.
Valentine’s Day can be an opportunity to reflect on all the different types of love in our lives, from friends, pets, music, hobbies, passions – you name it! So, this year, why not “feel the love” on Valentine’s Day by celebrating what you love most in your life, cultivating self-love and spreading love with the people you care about.
Understanding the reasons behind the potential loneliness associated with Valentine's Day allows us to approach the day with empathy and compassion. It's not about what society tells us it should be; it's about how we choose to define it. Whether you're celebrating with a significant other, friends, or enjoying your own company, remember that love, in all its forms, is something truly worth celebrating. 💖🌈