National Edition

Valentine's Day: A reminder not to forget yourself when you're counting the love in your life

Published: Friday, Feb. 14 2014 4:00 a.m. MST

Think of Valentine's Day as the day you check in on the love you have and what you lack. It's a good time to figure out what you want and how you're going to get it, relationship coaches say.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

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WASHINGTON — Talk about a day for all reasons. Retailers like Valentine's Day a lot, to the tune of about $17.3 billion they rake in, according to the National Retail Federation's spending survey.

Still, shoppers are cautious, and the survey by Prosper Insights and Analytics said only 54 percent of Americans will celebrate with their loved ones this year, down from last year's 60 percent. Spending is up slightly, though, at an average of $133.91 on candy, cards, gifts, dinner and more. That's about $3 more than last year's average.

It's a day that's even been given its own distinctive look, replete with pink, white and red hearts and bows, cuddly stuffed critters, an abundance of flowers and colognes, textured chocolates and perfectly arranged food.

Still, it remains at its core a day about love. And not just the heart-pounding, dry-mouthed, all-atwitter romantic love of newly minted couples. Feb. 14 is an on-the-calendar reminder to consider all kinds of loves — including the ones you have and the ones you may not even have met yet, said Deborah Roth, a relationship, career and life coach in New York City. Roth is a member of the International Coach Federation and an interfaith minister.

Not everyone comes joyfully to the day, she and Charles A. Johnson, a relationship coach in Miami, agree. The day can be hard for someone who is weathering a rocky patch in a relationship or who has endured a breakup. The same is true for one who has no partner but longs to be in a committed relationship.

Expressing love is still important, and it's a great day to do it, said Roth. It's as important to show yourself some love as it is to shower someone else with affection. If nothing else, you can think of Valentine's Day a little like the day Daylight Savings Time begins or ends and you check the batteries in your smoke alarm. It's a day for an emotional checkup.

Roth and Johnson offer strategies for loving oneself and others in different situations, today and beyond.

Moving on

"If you have just broken up with someone, I'd encourage you to be in a place of self-love. It's a good day to do something fun with others or do something special for yourself," Roth said.

She encourages people to do something loving for themselves, whether it's extra pampering of even making themselves a valentine. She said while people may roll their eyes at the idea, it's a tangible symbol of love and "symbols are the language of the subconscious. It can be balm for the soul and remind you of all the good things about yourself."

Jay Ryan, who co-founded a company called BreakupGems in Montreal, Canada, believes there's a lot to be said for taking the occasion of a relationship's end to think about what you really want in your life and to get intentional about it. His company sells jewelry to "celebrate" break-ups as a time to launch new beginnings. He emphasized the importance of recognizing that the failure of a relationship is not always a bad thing. It can be a time of growth and introspection and figuring out what you really want so that the next relationship is stronger.

"I think we can all identify a time in our lives when we realize our significant other is not the person we thought he or she would be and it's time to move on. A break-up can signal time to get healthier, focus on what makes you happy, figure out what creates positive momentum to take on new challenges," he said.

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