Where Grief and Love Meet: The Valentine’s Day Hangover

Couples Therapy, Depression and Anxiety

There are many suggestions given with good intentions on how to tackle the overwhelm of emotions and expectations faced on Valentine’s Day. Yet, what happens on the days following Valentine’s Day? What initially started as enthusiasm or hope on how to extend love to self and others for the day, can later be met by exhaustion and grief.

For some, Valentine’s Day is unlike any other holiday in the sense that this day unconsciously activates a series of desires and unmet needs without an individual’s permission. These unmet needs and desires are not always about “partnership”. Yet, partnership is often believed to be the solution. So, what is it really about? Beneath the idealization of partnership, you may find starvation, and deep longing stemming from important, but unmet humanistic needs.

Awareness of these important humanistic needs can shift your daily functioning. Such as, the need for sense of belonging, physical safety and security, friendship, the attention of others, being listened to, nurturance and respect, validation, guidance, unconditional love, physically touching and being touched, intimacy, loyalty and trust, sexual expression, spiritual awareness, and the sense of accomplishment.

You might be thinking, “These are a lot of needs”. Yet, all true to the human experience.

It’s important that we recognize these needs and our past and present realities with them. How have these needs been met or have gone unmet? How many of these needs do you acknowledge having today, and which ones feel uncomfortable to admit aloud? Research has shown that on average, only 48 percent of love needs are satisfied, and only 40 percent of esteem needs are satisfied.

So, on a day where most individuals are seemingly kinder to one another, more gesturally attentive and engaged, and our love languages are marketed to us, it’s only human to think of the many possibilities of what this day could be. While also experiencing the trigger of the scarcity effect. You know, experiencing fear of there not being enough love to go around, or the experience of anxiety, that causes you to go urgently out of your way to try and get your needs met by another individual, for fear that if you don’t do something now your needs may never be met. Even at the emotional cost of accepting scraps.

Only, you realize that one day filled with healthy distractions, or a series of gestures of love, is not enough to suffice years of longstanding needs. This is where grief meets love, whether you are single or in partnership. Perhaps, you begin to think of experiences where a loved one might have been “physically” there, but emotionally disengaged, or having had a loved one that seemed emotionally engaged, but their emotional presence came at the cost of enduring their criticisms or minimizing your needs for fear of them withdrawing. Love is said to be a paradoxical reason why many people stay and leave.

As Valentine’s Day comes to an end, you might be thinking, “What now? What’s the remedy for a Valentine’s Day Hangover?” Well, here are some short and simple action steps to begin the process of better recognizing and meeting some important humanistic needs.

1.) Review the important humanistic needs listed above, and be honest with yourself on which needs are actually being fulfilled at this time, and which needs causes you to encounter doubts on how it can ever be met.

2.) Consider how the desire to have these needs “uniquely” met, can sometimes impact your ability to recognize the choices that you have in caring for your whole self.

3.) Give those areas of your life more attention, by setting an intentional act, whereby you continue to practice learning to meet the needs identified. For example, the need for nurturance might reflect you developing ways to nourish yourself emotionally and physically. This can occur by you actively cooking at least two homemade meals for yourself for the week; and by responding to your inner critic, compassionately. You can do this by acknowledging its fears and yet thinking of healthier self-affirming ways to remind yourself of the things you care about, and how you might accomplish them.

You are capable of love and are deserving of your needs being met. Perhaps, you were deprived of some of those needs before, but you don’t have to continue to be deprived of them now. With set intentions and action, you can start to meet these important needs, while improving your daily functioning.

With Warm Care,


Carmelle Ellison, LCSW

I help high-achieving adults, especially in the BIPOC community live authentically wholesome lives via telehealth therapy throughout California.


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