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How to Set Clear Expectations for Valentine’s Day So You’re Not Let Down

Valentine’s Day is an emotionally charged holiday that can create a lot of stress. The expectations can be high and we put immense pressure on ourselves to celebrate the day just so. While being able to clearly communicate your expectations is always important, with a holiday like Valentine’s Day, it becomes even more pressing to know where you stand, and then communicate that effectively with the people around you. No one likes to be let down, especially on a day that’s supposed to be filled with love!

So, how do we do this? How do we clearly articulate what we want or don’t want on Valentine’s Day?

First, we have to get honest with ourselves. This might seem overly simplified, but how often do we really take time to understand ourselves and what we want? Read through the questions below and have a real conversation with yourself. It’s ok if your answers are different than you thought they would be! Things become more or less important as we grow and change.

It’s amazing how many people don’t know what they like, but expect someone else to know! So, answer some simple questions to get to know yourself better: What do you like or enjoy doing? What makes you feel your best? Do you feel recharged after some time alone or with a group of people? Do you appreciate gifts over time together? Would you prefer that someone does something for you instead of with you? How do you know when someone is showing love, attention, or affection towards you?

Many people, over half of Americans in fact, chose to celebrate this holiday. On a scale of 1 – 10, how important is this holiday to you? Why is it important, or not important for you to celebrate it? How would you feel if you didn’t? If you’re in a relationship, it’s equally important to ask your partner these same questions. How would I like to spend the day? Second, we need to effectively communicate this with the people around us. Now that you know yourself, what’s most important to you, and how you’d like to spend the holiday, it’s time to have the conversation and ask for what you want.

When you use “I” statements, you’re speaking more directly from the heart- saying what really matters to you. Since you are stating something that you want, it should be about you, and not them. For example, “I would like to exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day” sounds much different than, “You should buy me a gift”.

Our loved ones can’t read our mind. This is probably a good thing! However, we then need to explain our expectations. People are much more likely to respect your wishes if they know about them AND know why they are important to you. So, let’s add on to the tip above to make our communication even better. “I would like to exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day because I enjoy getting something from you that’s thoughtful and it shows me that you care.” Conversely, if you don’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, make sure you’ve articulated this clearly so your wishes are respected as well.

Know that you are worthy of setting and voicing your expectations. Put your energy into clearly and respectfully asking for what you need instead of questioning whether or not you’re worthy of receiving it. That being said, make your requests reasonable for the circumstance. Putting unrealistic pressure on a partner, especially out of the blue, can cause tension. If you want to exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day, for example, agree upon a price limit that makes you both comfortable.

Hopefully these tips encourage you to get clear on what you want for Valentine’s Day and then speak up and ask for it!

Emily Betros is a licensed clinical social worker, certified health coach, and owner of Reclaiming Health, LLC. She helps clients put together an individualized plan to meet their health goals. Emily enjoys hiking, traveling, vegan-izing recipes, and spending time with her husband and daughter.

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