Feb 5, 2007

The Dark Side of Valentine's Day

As Valentine's Day approaches there always seems to be more stories about infidelity, betrayal and other relationship problems. And for some reason I don't think this is a coincidence.

I imagine that for some people, Valentine's Day forces couples to think about their relationship and doing so may bring problems to light. For instance, feeling obligated to show affection to a partner can often have the opposite effect - forced affection can increase awareness of just how little affection there is in a relationship or how unnatural showing affection has become. Along the same line, being forced to do a task often leads people to discount the task at hand - so many people may devalue the affection they give to a partner simply because it is not freely given. Moreover, seeing genuinely happy couples tends to invite social comparisons - why aren't we as happy or what happened to our relationship? I also find it somewhat ironic that "experts" on infidelity put out more press releases and give more interviews during Valentine's Day than at any other time of the year.

My conclusion: Valentine's Day is great when you are madly in love, but it for many couples it probably creates some awkwardness, and in some cases, disillusionment. And it's just my guess, but I think that the media know that stories about troubled relationships play well this time of the year.

Anyway, here is a recent sample of some news stories about infidelity, cheating and relationship problems:

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