Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 21, 2024

Saving yourself this Valentine’s Day

By GABI SWISTARA | February 14, 2019


In a world governed by social pressure to love and be loved, knowing how to be single is key to your health and that of your relationships. Knowing how to be single can be difficult, though, when surrounded by rom-coms, love songs and Disney-happy-endings.

Let me start by saying that I love love and am not against relationships. However, I also consider self-love a crucial and often overlooked skill, especially at this time of year. This is a challenging article to write since everybody has different views on relationships, but this is my attempt to help you, my reader, feel content with yourself — which will in turn boost confidence and life satisfaction. That said, the following is general advice; always prioritize listening to your emotions.

Below are worries that I or my friends have had, followed by some ways to tackle these worries. 

I keep thinking about my past relationships. They all failed, so I must be awful at love. 

Valentine’s Day is a time many people spend reflecting on their past relationships. It’s a commonly held belief that a history of failed relationships means you’re bad at love. This is untrue; we learn from failing. Experience makes you wiser and ‘better.’

Many of us tend to blame ourselves for failed relationships, which is damaging to our self-esteem. But why be sad about the fact that you had relationships? Why feel pain spending the holiday with the greatest love of your life: yourself? In the end, you’re the most important person in your life; you always have been and always will be. 

Additionally, sometimes things don’t work out even if you and your beloved want the same thing. Sometimes your significant other can care a lot about you, and it might still not work out. It’s tough to see the forest through the trees; as my friend Emily Velandia told me, heartbreak is egocentric. We tend to focus on why they broke our heart rather than why they took care of themselves. But trying to see your ex’s perspective can help. Find thoughts that make you feel content with the past, happy about the present and confident for the future. 

I don’t want to be single. 

It’s better to be single than with the wrong partner. Furthermore, relying on others to make you happy is always a gamble. It’s often thought that a romantic relationship will make you happier, but you can’t be happy with others until you are happy with yourself. Taking time to know yourself better will lead to better relationships and finding yourself can come in any form, from travel to hobbies, from hookups to celibacy.  

Finally, just because you’re alone does not mean you’re lonely. Society has always pushed people into this binary wherein they cannot feel whole if they’re alone. But you are whole on your own. Don’t date somebody simply to avoid being single; make sure every individual in your life is making you happy. 

I’m in a relationship, but I’m not sure if I still want to be. 

Ask yourself: Do you feel physically and emotionally safe with your partner? Can you be yourself around them? Are you happy? Rather than saying that life moves on and you’ll always find your next partner — which is true but unhelpful when you’re hooked — try to take care of yourself. Do what makes sense for you right now. That might change (for me, it’s constantly changing), and that’s okay too. 

I worry that if I don’t wish my crush a happy Valentine’s Day, they’ll think I don’t care about them. 

Frequency of communication in relationships can cause anxiety. I always worried that if I reached out too much I’d look needy, but if I didn’t reach out enough they’d think I didn’t want them in my life. This is catastrophizing; being quiet does not take away memories you share with them, and space can be a good thing. On the other hand, if someone’s into you, they probably won’t think you’re being needy when you communicate.

Think about it like this: You care about your crush but may not reach out every day. But you do care about them. The same can be true for them. 

I want to tell my crush I like them, but I’m worried about getting hurt.

First off, there’s no wrong way to go here. Whether you tell them or not, you’ll make that choice for a reason. It’s ultimately about risk assessment. Are you willing to risk whatever relationship you currently have for the relationship you want to have? Both answers are 100% valid; you’ll make one decision or the other for a reason, so trust your reasoning. 

Now to touch on the worry. It is natural to fear rejection and the following sadness. No one likes being sad. I was afraid of being sad for a long time and, although I don’t enjoy it, I’m okay with it now. It’s natural. Sitting with your feelings is important. Furthermore, sadness is caused by something, so knowing why you’re sad is a big step to knowing how to make yourself happy. Finally, do not be afraid of a broken heart. Heartbreak reminds us that we’re human. Emotional pain is something we all share sometimes. 

I miss my partner too much when we’re apart. 

It’s natural to miss your partner! Feeling insecure when they’re not with you, though, can be unhealthy. The toughest thing is finding someone you’re still content with when away from them. I have found that in unhealthy relationships, if you’re not comfortable being apart, it’s often due to a lack of trust. 

How do I even love myself? 

My favorite methods of self-care include reminding myself of my accomplishments (no matter how small) and body-positive thoughts. Your body tells the story of who you are. Stretch marks? Maybe you created life. Bags under your eyes? Maybe you were so excited about life that you couldn’t sleep. Have some fat? Maybe you enjoy food. And so on. 

No matter your current relationship status, take care of yourself!

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