December 6, 2021 by John Fernandez
Ask the Psychiatrist: How to Handle a Romantic Holiday if You’re NOT in a Relationship
Valentine’s Day can be tough when you’re not in a relationship — particularly in a pandemic. But according to experts, the pandemic provides real opportunities for single people to grow and learn about themselves.
“This past year, I’ve seen an increase in the number of people having relationship issues,” says Rachel V.F. Rohaidy, M.D., a board certified psychiatrist at Baptist Health Primary Care and medical director of The Recovery Village at Baptist Health. “As work has changed and jobs have been lost, some relationships and marriages have become strained and others have become stronger,” she says.
if you’re single and not in a relationship, Dr. Rohaidy suggests you expand your thinking beyond the traditional definition of the word “love.” Valentine’s Day is not only about romantic love, she observes. “There are many different types of love.”
To gain insight into how to define the different types of love, Dr. Rohaidy uses Ancient Greek to explain:
- Eros: Erotic love, more the sexual passionate love; modern-day excitement type of love.
- Philia: Friendly love, love between equals – love you might feel towards family and friends. Love between parents and children, brotherly love.
- Storge: Love that is fostered, that grows with mothers and daughters. Love between family members. Family does not always have to be blood.
- Agape: Pure altruistic love, charity. Unselfish concern for others. Love and affection of God. There are health benefits of altruistic love.
- Philautia: Self-love, self-care, self-reflection.
“Self-love is the most important love there is,” says Dr. Rohaidy. “It’s not only healthier but research tells us that people who practice self-love live longer and better than those who do not.”
Here are some tips from Dr. Rohaidy on how to love yourself:
- Enjoy and reflect on the joys of not having a relationship, like not having to check-in with anyone.
- Really notice and get into it with yourself and identify what are you looking for in a relationship.
- Be altruistic. Reach out to the community. Doing something for others can help de-stress and make you feel social connectiveness and improve your mental and physical wellbeing.
- Devote a day to yourself. Self-care is the most important. Give yourself a treat – candy, flowers, no diet, order something for yourself.
- Surprise a good friend or family member. Send a care package. It’s a nice gesture to think and connect with others.
- Open your heart to friends and family every day.
- If you live alone, have a family dinner via FaceTime or Zoom.
- Do something good for the community.
- Love your pet. Animals give unconditional love and joy. If you don’t have a pet, get a pet or volunteer at a shelter.
All of these are things that can be accomplished while staying safe in the pandemic, Dr. Rohaidy notes. As she advises all of her patients, “Wear a mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing. It’s an easy way to protect yourself and others from exposure to the coronavirus.”