Few things can rival the anticipation of experiencing love (or romance) than the thought of Valentine’s Day. Last year during February there were 8.4 million searches on Google by people looking to conjure up magic for that special day by finding a unique way to say “Be mine” or “I love you.”
Looking for love doesn’t come cheap either. The average person will spend $142 towards Valentine’s Day gifts and greetings to their sweethearts. That adds up to $15.7 billion in jewelry, date nights (movies or meals), clothing, flowers, candy, and cards. Amazing.
When expectations are too high
Have you noticed that life doesn’t always turn out the way you planned? No matter how hard you try one thing is for sure: “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” This is doubly true when it comes to dating or relationships.
Look no further than the Bachelor and Bachelorette for a picture of unrealistically high expectations. These programs confirm that even when all the elements for an ideal date are brought together, things can still go wrong.
Imagine having camera crews cover your Valentine’s date—with millions of Americans watching every move. (Talk about pressure!) These shows—and others like them—prove there is no such principle as “things going as planned.” In fact, they seldom result in the romance that people desire and hope to achieve.
Still, whether they are Cupid or stupid, reality show producers put forth the mythical idea that they can produce a potion that somehow makes someone fall helplessly and madly in love with the next person they meet. Real relationships are much more complicated and far less predictable.
High expectations can end up as huge disappointments. That’s because people are much more likely to be unhappy anytime they try to plan out the perfect day or date, and nothing evokes more expectations for love than Valentine’s Day. That explains why this time of the year can be disastrous for the unwary–generating loneliness and triggering an inevitable escape into lustful fantasies.
When the focus is the “pay-off”
The unrealistic standard set by the culture for Valentine’s Day is self-serving in many ways, i.e., the “pay-off” at the end of the night. However, if you make Valentine’s Day just about sex, it wears off the next day.
In fact, though porn viewing by those in marriage or dating relationships goes down each Feb. 14, it jumps right back up to the same levels on Feb. 15. For non-dating singles, the opposite is true: Porn or paid telephone/internet sex spikes on Valentine’s Day due to dashed hopes and longings to be with someone special.
Your mindset matters
The counterweight to culture’s lie that sex equals love or happiness is to set your heart and mind on things that really matter. Don’t think of Valentine’s Day as a time to seek sex. Instead, consciously make it an opportunity to demonstrate unconditional love—with no expectation of getting something in return. Use this day to work on things that enhance relationships. Yes, make it fun, but also plan activities or discussions that can help build stronger lines of communication and foster real intimacy.
For those without a date, use the time to build a closer relationship with God. The Lord longs to spend time with you. Cherish that opportunity. Celebrate it. Enjoy it. Treasure it.
We need to find contentment in every circumstance and put on a mindset that Valentine’s Day isn’t about lust or loneliness. It’s about love. Unselfish love. Love without boundaries. Love, that when nurtured during this temporary time on Earth will be eternally enjoyed with a God who is Love.
Your mindset about Valentine’s Day (and every other day of the year!) will make all the difference as to whether you are truly experiencing God’s gift of love or simply chasing after lustful fantasies, so develop a game plan—and do it today.