When the candy aisle is stocked with teddy bears holding chocolate hearts, you may be feeling some serious pressure to lock that make-out buddy of yours down. If you've been seeing someone for a while but have still yet to DTR, Valentine's Day can come with some added pressure to clarify what you and your boo "are". Yet, if you're feeling like you need to define the relationship on Valentine's Day, fret not: that's not exactly the case.
"Valentine's Day — like other holidays — creates a temporary and somewhat artificial social setting. It may be a wonderful setting but it has expectations that unfortunately are not carried out year-round," Joshua Klapow, Clinical Psychologist and Host of “The Kurre and Klapow Show” Ph.D. tells Elite Daily. "Relationships are always dynamic. Defining or clarifying a relationship is never a 'one shot deal.'"
Defining your relationship can span from, "We're deleting our Tinders..." to "We're getting a dog together!" If you've made it through Christmas and New Years with your not-yet-official boo, or if you've met a new cutie around Feb. 14, you may wonder if Valentine's Day means you need to immediately clarify. Yet, according to Dr. Klapow, understanding DTR as a process to be done over time, not as a single conversation or day, can provide stability and longevity with your boo — at any stage. "Every relationship is made up of three components: Individual one, Individual two, and The Relationship itself, and all are in constant motion. Growing, changing, experiencing," Dr. Klapow says. "Over the days, weeks, months and years, the relationship will be redefined, re-clarified, repositioned."
No matter if you switch your major or job, Kim K has another baby, or your friend group does through some major shifting — in life, change is inevitable. Understanding your relationship as a dynamic thing that will grow and evolve over time allows room for you and your maybe-partner to change over time too. Although there may be a specific day that you and your boo decide to be monogamous, to "go steady," or say "I love you" for the first time, "defining the relationship" can also be a process of constant redefining.
"If you need clarification of the relationship on Valentine's Day, that is fine. But any 'defining' of the relationship on Valentine's Day should be the culmination of weeks or months of thought and discussion," Dr. Klapow says.
If your boo is sending you some major mixed-messages or consistently making you question how they feel about you, it's OK to want clarity —any day of the year. Yet, according to Dr. Klapow, the best time to clarify is when you're feeling out of sync. "The best time to clarify or define a relationship is when you are feeling that you and your partner may not be on the same page," Dr. Klapow says. "And then it is critical to have a discussion about where you both are at versus trying to strongly label the nature of the relationship." The initial "defining" of a relationship can happen over a span of time and conversations, and doesn't need to be rushed for Feb. 14. If you and your maybe-partner are enjoying spending time together, there's no need to rush the DTR conversation — for Valentine's Day's sake, or any other reason.
Yet, when you and your boo do want to talk it out, framing the conversation around what you are feeling and the expectations you have rather than what titles or labels fit on the relationship, can help all parties feel heard and supported. According to Dr. Klapow, taking the pressure off what you "are" and focusing on how you feel can help you really see where both you and you boo are at, especially on V-Day.
"Valentine's Day is a time to talk about how you feel about one another. Where you are at right now. Not a label, category, or box," Dr. Klapow says. "Valentine's Day is one day. Define your relationship for that day, not for the future."
Forcing a DTR talk on Cupid's Birthday can put you and your boo on the spot, and keep you from just enjoying each other's company. You don't need to DTR to eat a bunch of pink junk food with someone you like, or get an amazing back rub from your maybe-boo.
Although the pressure to have a clearly defined monogamous partner on Valentine's Day is totally real, Feb. 14 doesn't need to mean forcing premature conversations or overcommitting to anything you're not ready for. If you're feeling healthy and supported in spending time with someone, Valentine's Day doesn't need to feel like extra pressure to DTR. If Hallmark doesn't make a Valentine's Day card for "the person you're casually seeing and are super into," take it as incentive to make your own.