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Singles vs. couples: who is really happier on Valentine's Day?

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and it is becoming more difficult to ignore titles from magazines, blogs, and web sites, that spit out phrases along the lines of "How To Be Single and Happy on Valentine's" or "Being Single on Valentine's Day: a Survival Guide."

The metaphorical signs are everywhere, drawing attention to the stereotype that on Valentine's Day, singles wallow in self pity while glaring at happy couples that surround them.

You may not believe this, but we are single, and OKAY

Things are not always as they appear, especially on a day where high expectations are held. According to relationship guru and professor at the University of Guelph, Robin Milhausen, singles have a lot to be happy about on Valentine's Day. At the top of the list is the freedom to enjoy an active social life, which has the tendency to sit on the back burner in relationships.

"[Valentine's Day] is a good time to get together with other singles and celebrate your independence -- go out where you want, when you want, make out with who you want, watch what you want on T.V. etc."

It's also important to remember that not every couple you see is having a happy Valentine's. Milhausen suggested that if you are not coupled up this Valentine's, think about challenges that people face in their relationships and embrace your decision to choose the single life over being in a bad relationship.

"Infidelity, poor communication, insensitivity...phew, aren't you glad you aren't dealing with all those issues?" Milhausen joked.

If you're single, why participate in Valentine's Day at all? Celebrate 'Singles Awareness (or Appreciation) Day.' Although it has a horrible acronym (S.A.D.), the 'holiday' is celebrated February 13th to escape the commercialism associated with Valentine's Day.

If you enjoy Valentine's Day, but disapprove of the narrow-mindedness that the day represents, become a supporter of 'Occupy Valentine's Day.'

"Celebrating love is a beautiful thing but it shouldn't depend on if we are in a relationship or not, our sexual orientation, our class background, our citizenship status or our marital status," the website read.  

Couples on Valentine's Day - trouble in paradise?  

 Valentine's Day is a designated time where couples can flaunt their perfect love with flowers, chocolates and candle lit dinners - right? Shockingly (or not), this may not always be the case.

"I think, overall, Valentine's Day often causes more problems in relationships than it solves," Milhausen said.

Exposure to the commercialization of Valentine's Day often leaves us wondering why we are disappointed when the day doesn't meet expectations of our romantic ideals.

"For some couples, Valentine's Day can be a real source of conflict. There are high expectations put upon the day and one member of the dyad can be disappointed if the others' gestures are deemed insufficient," Milhausen said.

Article from PsychologyToday titled 'How Valentine's Day Can Ruin Your Relationship,' suggests that V-Day has the potential to put your relationship at risk.

"Feeling like we must make our mate happy is a tremendous weight to carry and many a Valentine is based on that premise," it said. "We must learn and understand what makes our relationship strong and what weakens it (like great expectations on Valentine's Day)." 

Finding romantic bliss 

It seems that singles might just be the happier group with all the potential pitfalls Valentine's Day presents for relationships.  Is it possible for couples to get past the materialistic perspective of Valentine's, and simply relish the enjoyment of each other's company?

Professor Milhausen acknowledges that although Valentine's Day may bring relationship issues out into the open such as commitment insecurities or anxiety over equal levels of affection between partners, the day gives partners license to share romantic feelings.

PsychologyToday revealed that to have a successful Valentine's Day that can benefit your relationship, not hinder it, both partners need to carry more realistic expectations.

"Enduring love does not solely lie in gift giving or in the lovey-dovey cooing and ogling between lovers," it stated. "More often, love is the result of the small things of everyday life.

That said, a rose in your teeth, a song in your heart and breakfast in bed is not a bad start to Feb. 14th or any other morning."

Couples vs. singles

So which group truly is the happiest on Valentine's Day? It is certain that not all couples will be happy on the most romantic of holidays.

"Couples who are head over heels in love, in happy relationships, who celebrate their relationships every day. 

"For those couples, Valentine's Day is just another day," Milhausen declared.

For singles, the day is a reminder to embrace your sense of empowerment and to re-establish self-worth as an independent individual.

Regardless of whether you are single, casually dating, in a serious relationship, married, or divorced, your Valentine's Day experience will be a direct reflection of how you greet every day. How you feel about the day and how you spend it, is up to you.

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