Valentine's Day is here and while we're supposed to celebrate love and togetherness, for so many - couples as well as singles - this day can be just so damn hard. It has been dominating GaG discussions; we even ran a special V-Day contest. And we've seen tons of questions, like asking how singles will spend the day and how much a guy should spend on his girlfriend (and everything in between).
Yeah, lots of questions from lots of confused and anxious people. But there are explanations as to why love can be amazing and outrageously complex at the same time. The only problem is, countless books have been written on this whole "falling in love" phenomenon that humanity just can't seem to pin down, and we could all talk until we're blue in the face.
What to do, what to do?
Well, for some expert info on that wonderfully explosive topic of young love, we turn to Dr. Jane Greer, a marriage and family therapist, sex expert, author, and creator of the radio program, "Shrink Wrap." This on-call radio hour boasts candid conversations on life, love and relationships, and often features actors, authors, bloogers, journalists, producers and more. It airs every Tuesday from 2-3 p.m. EST on HealthyLife.net so be sure to tune in!
For this V-Day chat, we brought her some questions the GaG community has often asked...sometimes, such questions have appeared time and time again. So, here come the answers!
GaG: Do you think it's possible to be too young to get involved in a heavy relationship? At about what age do you believe most people are ready?
Dr. Greer: "It is possible to be too young - I would say around age 15/16/17 is typically when some people start to fall in love and have their first serious romance. This is part of the process of developing maturity, and around this age teens are beginning to separate from their family and starting to think about heading off on their own (e.g. college). So being involved with a significant other at this point becomes a stabilizing force to help them continue to emotionally separate from their family while still feeling secure."
GaG: What is the biggest mistake young people make when getting into a serious relationship for the first time?
Dr. Greer: "The biggest mistake is becoming sexually involved too soon, before they really feel trusting and secure with their partner. 'Too soon' is different for everyone, but in general it's best to wait at least six months."
GaG: Valentine's Day is often cause for stress. What do you suggest to make it less stressful, from both a single and couple standpoint?
Dr. Greer: "If you're single for Valentine's Day, make sure you focus on who in your life makes you happy - your mother, sister, best friend, etc. Plan some time with them or make a point to let them know they're special to you, so you don't feel left out of the Valentine's love that gets exchanged on this holiday. If you're part of a couple, look to be open and clear about your expectations regarding gifts. Many people have high expectations and wind up really disappointed if they don't receive what they hoped to get from their partner."
GaG: Why do some people find it so hard to fall in love? On the flip side, why do others fall head over heels so easily?
Dr. Greer: "It's hard for some people because they're afraid to be real and who they really are. That would mean showing imperfections, vulnerabilities, and insecurities. They could also be afraid of being rejected, abandoned, and/or hurt. On the flip side, some people find it easy to fall for someone because they don't allow fear to hold them back - they go forth with the hope that this time it will work out. Somewhere along the way, they've developed a resilience for dealing with the heartbreak that can come if it doesn't work out, and they've also experienced the benefits of being in love and are willing to take the chance."
GaG: In your experience, do you think women or men have a more difficult time with break-ups? And if you believe it's about even, does either sex tend to recover faster?
Dr. Greer: "Women generally struggle more with breakups because men are able to spring back into their life more readily in the immediate aftermath - going out, meeting new women, getting caught up with their friends...whereas women really feel the pain and share it. Because the men aren't dealing with the pain initially, it can creep up on them later. Perhaps after dating other women they realize they truly miss that person. As far as who gets over it more easily, breakups are difficult for both sexes, but men tend to move on quicker because they have a wide network of options (meeting new women at work, in bars, online, etc.)."
GaG: We're seeing a lot of community topics based on younger people being VERY focused on their body image when it comes to relationships. Why is this happening?
Dr. Greer: "Because it's so easy to meet people based on appearance these days, people may place more of a premium on how they look and how attractive they are. I absolutely see this happening - women in particular are definitely aware of wanting to look and feel their best in relationships, so they're very conscious of their bodies and their appearance."
Many thanks to Dr. Greer for taking the time to give us some very sound advice, and lend a bit of rational sanity to this often stressful holiday. The bottom line is that this particular day can be truly memorable; you just have to know how to approach it. :) And feel free to follow Dr. Greer on Twitter.