How to navigate Valentine’s Day when you’re alone or in conflict with your partner


by Stacey Allen, MA, CCLS, LAMFT

Valentine’s Day isn’t always a happy, sweet, and loving holiday. Especially for people who are not in a relationship and wish they were, or for couples who are struggling in their relationship.

For some, V-Day is filled with excitement over the formal opportunity to show love for someone special. For others, Valentine’s Day can be a disheartening, disappointing day. If you find yourself alone on Valentine’s Day this year, and you would prefer not to be, invite a single friend to dinner, watch a movie you have been wanting to see, go to an event in town, or visit a friend or family member that would like some company.

If you prefer to be alone this Valentine’s Day, write a Valentine card to yourself listing 1) what you have been good at in past relationships, 2) things that are positive about not being in a relationship right now, 3) what kinds of things you can do socially to reach out to others, and 4) ways you can increase peacefulness in your evenings and week-ends by yourself.

If you are in a relationship that is filled with conflict, or you and your partner are feeling disconnected, there is no time like the present to use Valentine’s Day as a chance to extend the olive branch. Make a special event happen by drafting a brief invitation to your partner to join you for dinner. You do not need to spend much money. Simply make a favorite meal at home, or bring food in and eat by candlelight. Present a note or talk to your partner describing how you miss him or her as your best friend. Describe your wish to put differences aside and talk gently about hopes for the future. If you get the opportunity to have this conversation, the most important part for both partners is to be calm, quiet, sympathetic listeners that do not problem solve. Be curious and ask questions about how the other feels until you really understand. Remember, you do not need to agree, you just need to listen and ask gentle questions until you understand the other’s perspective.

Put aside big expectations for gifts or romance, and focus on a chance to talk gently together. If that happens, it can be the best gift for couples in conflict.

If you are struggling in your relationship and you would like some help in these areas: 1) navigating conflict patterns, 2) building on your ability to say what you need to say in a way that does not create defensiveness, 3) discovering the number one thing men and women want from communication, and 4) self-calming, contact Stacey Allen, MA, CCLS, LAMFT at Healthwise Behavioral Health & Wellness.