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Hello February!

What springs to mind when we think of the month of February?

This was the question I asked of my friends, family and even passing strangers as the month of January drew to a close.

For some, there were hopes of health and happiness, for others it was around love and the possibility of some much needed romance in their life. Arguably clichéd and at times difficult to ignore, the shops start to fill their displays with over stated red love hearts and the brightest crimson roses.

We are bombarded with messages and reminders that February is the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day. This tradition encourages us to symbolise our love through performing grand gestures of affection towards our beloved and by doing so we demonstrate how much we love them. This focus on the one day in the year not only informs us, but them and the world around us, that we are in the right place, with the right person at the right time in our life.

Yet for some, this time of the year is met with complete dread. One of my girlfriends said she had no expectations for February, as it was all about Valentines Day, so overrated and as a consequence, she loathed the whole month! Thankfully another friend was more optimistic as she was looking forward to longer, lighter days and more time with her family, oh and perhaps that her date might actually step forward.

One of my most memorable Valentines Day’s was spent with now my ex husband, 20 odd years ago when I had just moved to London. We’d gone for our first curry together and as he’d been complaining of feeling tired, I wasn’t expecting too much in the romance department. However, when I looked up during my chicken tikka masala he’d fallen asleep. The Indian waiter felt so sorry for me, he brought over a red rose from one of the vacant tables and I spent the rest of the meal chatting to him! Perhaps I should have spotted the early warning signals at the time…

As human beings, we all need to feel loved, to feel part of something bigger than just being by ourselves and alone in the world. To be with someone special represents that we are loved and valued by another. However, somewhere along the line, we are fed with this sense of expectation that on Valentine’s Day this year, we will be madly in love at best or dating someone we feel a little crazy about at least. Expectation has a lot to answer for!

When I think of February, I do think of Valentine’s Day and that heady feeling of romance and love that encapsulates this. So for me February conjures up a sense of hope and perhaps expectation that this year I might be spending Valentines Day with my partner.

Despite the lure and excitement of changing romantic partners, the need for some stable caring connections with a small number of people is more important. Theorists Baumeister and Leary claim that human beings are ‘naturally driven toward establishing and sustaining belongingness,’ therefore, ‘people should generally be at least as reluctant to break social bonds as they are eager to form them in the first place.’

Interestingly, they also state that many people are reluctant to leave even destructive relationships. The need to belong goes beyond the requirement for superficial social ties or sexual interactions; it is a need for meaningful, profound bonding. A sense of belongingness, which is crucial to our well-being.

To not feel this can create various undesirable effects, including a decrease in the levels of health, happiness, and contentedness, leading to higher levels of mental and physical illness and a broad range of behavioural problems, ranging from traffic accidents to criminality and even suicide. A sobering thought if we are then to create an expectation

should our hopes not be achieved by a certain date, we are indeed doomed!

Then perhaps it might be more realistic to create a sense of balance and perspective in our desire for hope? That while it may be wonderful to have that special someone in our life to share our Valentine’s Day with, what about the other 364 days of the year? Surely they are equally as important? Or as my girlfriend Claire pointed out, ‘every day is Valentine’s Day in our house!’

So on a night out with my partner in Altrincham last week, I asked our taxi driver John Uber what his hopes were for February? His response was simple - that Guerdiola buys a new goalkeeper! Realistic or doomed? You decide!

Happy February to you all!

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