Archway Health Hub’s psychologist, Nicola Flinn believes that loneliness is a significant problem for many of us. In an era where social media absorbs so much of our attention and relationship breakdowns are commonplace, she has some useful advice for those who are dreading the approach of St Valentine’s Day. 

There is a lot of research available which shows that loneliness is one of the greatest issues of our time. It’s also a feeling that is intensified at certain times of the year, such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day.  In fact, I always think that Valentine’s Day is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it.

You might hate 14th February because of the commercialism: flowers rocket in price, small amounts of chocolate in expensive packaging beg to be bought – and then there’s the pressure of taking your partner out for a meal and making it a romantic experience.

You might also dread Valentine’s Day because it reminds you of lovers you have lost or because there isn’t a romantic partner currently in your life. However you view this day, February is here and the 14th is almost upon us – so what’s the best way of dealing with it?”

Firstly, it’s important to remember that your Valentine can be anyone you love – your friend, your child, your pet, your romantic partner. This should be a day of celebrating love rather than just romance. There are also many relationship gurus who can offer words of wisdom and support.

John Gottman and his wife Julie are legends and base their research on studying happy couples. Their website is an invaluable resource for information about how to successfully be in a relationship and be a great parent.

Stan Tatkin created PACT (psychobiological approach to couple’s therapy). The video below explains briefly how our brains work and that most of what we communicate with each other is rife with misinterpretation. And that this is true of all relationships, not just romantic ones. He focuses on the most important aspect of any relationship, which is to make each other feel safe.  When we don’t feel safe and feel under threat, we lose our ability to relax, play together and enjoy each other. Instead, we become locked into bids for power and control and become adversaries.

The quote below is all about love and relationships: how we have lived is about our relationship with ourselves, how we have loved is about our relationships with others. In order to make the relationships with ourselves and others work we have to learn to let go. That means we have to learn to let go of our mistakes and those of others; let go of our fears, disappointments, frustrations and pain.

 “In the end, just three things matter: how well we have lived; how well we have loved, how well we have learned to let go.” Jack Kornfield

So, Valentine’s Day can be used as a reminder to take a time-out from the demands of a busy life and focus on the love in your life. This is an opportunity at the start of the year to make the rituals that you and your partner will partake in on a daily and weekly basis. On a daily basis this might be how you leave your partner in the morning by making a point to seek them out and kiss them goodbye; then how you greet your partner when you return home.

If you want to check your phone for the latest email or text, do it before entering the house and take care of any other distractions. Then before you walk through the door remind yourself that you’re going to meet some very important people and for first three minutes don’t try and improve anyone! Then, on a weekly basis, make time for a date, a few hours of exclusive time together uninterrupted by technology, friends or family.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

If your relationship is in trouble and you want to get it back on track, call our reception for a 20-minute free consultation with Nicola Flynn. Click here to find out more about how Nicola can help you.