Valentine’s day is right around the corner, and it can be easy to get caught-up in the commercial holiday hoopla. We can quickly forget the beauty that lies beneath all of the ridiculous bears and (cheap) boxes of chocolates…expressing love!

Well, let me be the first to express my love for Jennie and her wildly talented work! I couldn’t be more excited to have her back as a guest this week, sharing how we can expand our definition of love this Valentine’s Day.

But hey, let’s keep this love fest rolling all year long, yes?! YES.

Winter in New York can be dreamy, all magically swirling snow and cozy restaurants to snuggle up in. Many years ago I was staying with friends in Brooklyn for a few days and found myself experiencing the most flower filled subway ride imaginable – in the dead of winter.

Men in suits (fancy suits) with beautiful wool overcoats cradled bundles of long stem red roses. I didn’t know that was a real “thing”, dozens upon dozens of red roses. I imagined it only happened in the movies.

As you can guess, it was Valentine’s Day. Being the curious sort I am (essential trait for a psychotherapist), I wondered about the relationships behind the roses; was this a necessary obligation to prevent a furious meltdown and subsequent freeze out?

Was it a true heartfelt gesture that was backed by everyday thoughtfulness? Was this a guilty display to offset extramarital dalliances?

At my office, The Nook, the stress leading up to Valentine’s Day is palpable.

Advertising instructs us to spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need that have nothing to do with strong relationships. People in relationships worry they won’t ‘get it right’ and will disappoint their partners. Those not in relationships feel the sting of loneliness even more acutely.

I want to share three tips for making Valentine’s Day a more authentic celebration.

1. Celebrate All Kinds of Love

  • We tend to get stuck thinking of only romantic love on Valentines Day. But we can actually broaden that to celebrate different types of love – love for our kids, our parents, our pets, and our pals.
  • I may even bring along some chocolates to my favourite little coffee shop where the baristas provide me with Perfect Coffee Love nearly every single morning.

2. Love The Giving

  • A sure way to give away our power is to place our happiness in someone else’s hands: “I will be happy if my partner gets me The Perfect Gift”, or “I will be miserable and hurt if my partner doesn’t read my mind and get me something awesome I can post on facebook, instagram, and snapchat”.
  • C’mon now, if you’re reading this I can safely bet you’re an adult. Adults know that mind reading is dangerous territory. So stop fretting about what you’re going to get, and instead let’s focus on what to give.
  • Perhaps you can send some nice old-fashioned Valentines via nice old-fashioned Canada Post to some friends or family who wouldn’t expect it.
  • Surprise a friend with a tasty treat. Give the crossing guard a hot cocoa. It feels good to give, don’t deny yourself the pleasure. While you’re at it, pick yourself up a nice little something.

3 . Grand Gestures Don’t Build Solid Foundations

  • If you do happen to be in a relationship, keep in mind that lavish, over-the-top displays of affection are not the bedrock of healthy, mature relationships.
  • It’s easy to drop a lot of money on a big demonstration: dial the phone, make a reservation, pick up a big gift and ta-da – meaningless.
  • Take time every day to acknowledge your partner and be thoughtful. Be a good listener. Be loyal and interested. These are the not-so-secret secrets to happy relationships.

Please don’t let yourself get caught in the trap of judging your relationship or your value on a single random day in February – you’re worth more than that.

Expand your definition of “love” to include more than just romantic relationships. Think about ways you can give (even your time) on Valentine’s Day to make someone else feel good.

Don’t spend too much time (or money) thinking about spectacular spectacles to pledge your undying affection. Remember that solid, healthy relationships are built on respect and consideration.

Use this Valentine’s Day as a springboard for EVERYDAY thoughtfulness.


Jennie is a Clinical Social Worker in private practice who is passionate about helping people create healthy relationships – including the one they have with themselves.

She works with individuals and couples for issues such as anxiety, trauma, self-esteem, infertility, parenting challenges, and stuck relationships. Stay connected at:

Like this guest post? Then you might also this post & this one.



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