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Surviving Valentine’s Day

Any of us who’ve been to rehab or a Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meeting will recognise the messages delivered to us on Valentine’s Day as extremely unhelpful – here’s our advice on getting through it.

Tips from an expert on love addiction

For those of us experiencing codependency and love addiction, Valentine’s Day can be a challenging moment. Luke Jesionkowski, Primary Therapist with Sydney’s South Pacific Private and an expert in love addiction, helps us understand why, and offers his advice.

Valentine’s Day has become an increasingly prominent and increasingly commercialised holiday, but the messages and pressures it throws up – which can be unwittingly reinforced by our friends and family – can be extremely unhelpful for those of us experiencing the end of a relationship, withdrawal, loneliness or the pangs of desire for a relationship. 

On Valentine’s Day, we may find ourselves confronted with the idea that to be seen as successful, we must find and experience romantic love. Love appears to be all around us as others celebrate and businesses cash in. Being alone could be seen as a failure. We may feel that we are alone on Valentine’s Day because we are not ‘worthy’, there is something wrong with us, or we are simply unlovable.

For anyone who’s sought treatment for love addiction, been to rehab or attended a Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meeting (SLAA), you’ll immediately recognise these as the very worst thoughts we tell ourselves. The need to define and validate ourselves by either saving another, or being adored by another, is a key driver of the problems we experience. The amplification of those thoughts on February 14 is deeply unwelcome. 

On a day which is supposed to celebrate love, we can instead find ourselves feeling old, painful wounds. These are the types of statements we tell ourselves (usually beliefs developed in childhood if we have grown up with dysfunctional family relationships):

  • I’m unlovable
  • I’m going to be alone forever / there is something wrong with me
  • I am better off alone
  • Being in a relationship is too painful
  • I can’t live without this person
  • My partner isn’t good enough for me / my partner doesn’t love me like that 

Surviving ‘V Day’

Below are some of the top tips and tricks for self-care which I share with clients and groups.

If you’re in relationship:

  • Manage your expectations – Don’t live in the fantasy, live in reality.
  • Have a conversation with your partner about how you honestly feel about the day – Be sure to include fears and concerns.
  • Set internal & external boundaries – Declare what is acceptable/healthy for you and/or your partner and hold to the boundaries you set. 
  • Practice healthy forms of self-regulation – Mindfulness, meditation, connecting with nature.
  • Self-affirmations – Whether in the mirror, in a journal, or in your mind, affirm yourself that you are enough just the way you are.

If you’re single:

  • Practice healthy forms of self-regulation – Mindfulness, meditation, connecting with nature.
  • Self-affirmations – Whether in the mirror, in a journal, or in your mind, affirm yourself that you are enough just the way you areDo something loving for yourself – Have a nice bath, a walk-in nature, order your favourite meal. 
  • Connect with family, friends and social circles – To ensure you don’t feel alone and trapped with your thoughts.
  • Have some fun – Spend the day/time doing what you actually enjoy and don’t take the day or yourself so seriously. 
  • Attend a support group – There are hundreds of support groups out there in various forms; AA, NA, SLAA, group therapy etc.
  • Speak to a therapist or support line – Don’t be afraid to reach out and speak to a professional (Our supportive team at South Pacific Private is available every day on 1800 063 332).  

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