Valentine’s Day is often hailed as a celebration of love and companionship, but it can be challenging for those navigating the path of singlehood. The poignant question arises: Why does the solitude on this day seem to carry its own weight? One key factor lies in societal expectations and the pervasive cultural emphasis on romantic relationships.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, media, advertisements, and even conversations become saturated with images of blissful couples exchanging tokens of affection. This constant barrage can inadvertently amplify feelings of isolation for those without a romantic partner. These days, even being single has an emotionally and psychologically damaging reputation attached to it. Here’s a conversation with Akansha Khanna, a counseling psychologist, NLP Practitioner, and life coach who focuses on bettering lives, one day at a time.
While discussing the same, Akansha Khanna, a counseling psychologist, NLP Practitioner, life coach, and the founder of Thrive Limitless, who is currently working with the Hans Foundation for their school project called the Hans Wellness Clinic, said, “The perceived emotional and psychological challenges of being single mostly come from societal norms that prioritize romantic relationships. Cultural narratives and media mostly emphasize that fulfillment primarily comes from romantic partnerships, contributing to the notion that being single is less desirable, making life dull or just not as happening as it is for people in a relationship.”
She explained, “This can create pressure and impact people’s self-esteem and emotional well-being. So basically, society’s emphasis on romantic relationships as a measure of happiness leads to the stigmatization of being single. This societal narrative may foster feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, or fear of judgment for those not in romantic relationships. Personal expectations and comparisons to others’ lives may also contribute to the perceived negative reputation of being single. This is why we need to foster a more inclusive perspective on diverse life paths, which can help navigate the emotional and psychological impact of being single.”
This feeling of hopelessness only gets worse during Valentine’s week. While discussing this phenomenon, Akansha explained, “Valentine’s week can intensify the emotional and psychological impact of being single due to societal focus on romantic love & its celebration; it makes single people realize how lonely they are in the absence of a partner & how celebration means nothing. During this time, people may experience heightened feelings of FOMO, emotional distress, or loneliness.”
She added, “We see so much Commercialisation of the holiday, restaurants and hotels often magnifying the perceived importance of being in a romantic relationship, sharing experiences that exacerbate feelings of inadequacy or isolation for those who are single. And we must consider the increased number of social media posts highlighting romantic gestures, which can amplify these emotions for individuals without a romantic partner. Through this, social comparisons happen; seeing others engaged in romantic activities or receiving gifts during this time may trigger social comparison, leading to feelings of not measuring up or being left out.”
The societal pressure and emotional impact associated with being single, particularly during times like Valentine’s week, can have adverse psychological effects. These effects can be short-term, but they can also lead to awful long-term problems.
These awful and possibly crushing psychological effects include:
- Lowered Self-Esteem: Constant exposure to societal norms prioritizing romantic relationships can lead to a diminished sense of self-worth for single individuals. This may manifest as feelings of inadequacy or a belief that one’s value is tied to relationship status.
- Increased Stress and Anxiety: The pressure to conform to societal expectations regarding relationships may contribute to heightened stress and anxiety, particularly during periods like Valentine’s week.
- Feelings of Isolation and Loneliness: Experiencing FOMO or a sense of exclusion during romantic celebrations can lead to increased loneliness. This can contribute to a sense of isolation and negatively impact mental well-being.
Impact on Mental Health: For some individuals, the societal emphasis on being in a relationship may contribute to symptoms of depression or exacerbate