New Relationship? How to Handle Valentine’s Day

Don’t let the pressure and sky-high expectations of V-Day sabotage a brand new relationship.

| February 10th, 2012
New Relationship? How to Handle Valentine’s Day

It’s hard to be a cool customer when Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and you’ve only been dating someone for a short period of time.

Is your new guy making a dinner reservation? Should you exchange gifts? Is he going to say those three big words?

QUIZ: What's Your Love Style?

Like New Year’s Eve, there's oodles of pressure and expectation riding on this romantic holiday. “Valentine’s Day is loaded with hype, advertising and ways for people to make money—and have to spend money,” says Susan Hendrick, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. “It’s a day that many people in relationships, especially men, dread!”

Adds Diana Kirschner, Ph.D., author of Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor’s Guide to Lasting Love,“People will have high expectations and when they’re not met, it backfires.”

If you're in a new relationship, it's important to avoid being sucked into the hype—and subsequent disappointment. Here’s how to manage your Valentine’s Day expectations.

If you’ve been together for two or three weeks…don't expect to be swept off your feet. You’re in the baby stage of a relationship and putting on too much pressure when things are still so new is the kiss of death.

“At this point, you have ‘dated’ a few times,” says Hendrick. “You don’t necessarily have ‘a relationship.’ The safest and most sensible—but hard to follow—rule here would be to have no expectations that Valentine’s Day will be anything special for the two of you. One of the hardest things in any romantic relationship, especially at the beginning, is to avoid expectations of certain behaviors from the other person. Don’t let Valentine’s Day get in the way!”

MORE: Understanding Your Expectations is the Key to Happiness

Prepare yourself that your beau may not have big—or even any—plans for Valentine’s Day because things are still new. Or because the holiday may not carry as much weight in his eyes as it does yours, especially so early on. “Valentine’s Day doesn’t necessarily mean as much to a guy as it does to a woman,” notes Kirschner. “So don’t take it as such a big sign. It doesn’t necessarily indicate how serious he is about your relationship.”

Adds Kirschner: “Your job is to not take it overly-seriously and to really lower your expectations so you don’t get angry or bitter. It will save you a lot trouble and angst.”

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