Beyond Valentine’s Day

By Lexi Foldenaur

February 14 is quickly approaching, maybe too fast for some. Some people may say that Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark gimmick, but others take it more seriously as a chance to remind their special someone how much they care. Although roses, candy, and flowers can make a beautiful evening, it is hard to maintain a loving relationship with those things alone. At Whatcom Community College, students had different opinions about dating, and what Valentine’s Day meant to them.

“I think it’s cool,” said Whatcom student Indigo Griffith. “Just a day to love people.”

Whatcom student, Jason Simon said he didn’t think that Valentine’s Day was all that meaningful. When it comes to letting someone know you care, Simon prefers to send “random happy texts.”

When it comes to showing someone your affection day-to-day, students and faculty have different views on what makes a relationship work. Friends Amber Curran and Hannah Birdsong agreed that one of the most sentimental things someone can do to show their feelings for you is to just be spontaneous. Even just a hug, or random compliments, the students agreed, can be a ticket to someone’s heart.

Alaysha Germaine, a student at Whatcom, talked about a funny forwarded e-mail she recently received, about good attributions people should have in their daily lives. The message of the e-mail was that if you are able to recognize when someone else is busy and that you can not get the attention you crave from them at that moment, “you are either the family pet or one-half of a good relationship.”

“It’s cheesy,” Germaine said, “but it’s kind of true.” Germaine said that one of the ways she makes her relationship work with her long-term boyfriend is to realize when her wants can potentially get in the way of her partner’s needs.

Falling in love is a quintessential part of life, but things are not always perfect, and most will need guidance to help them maintain a healthy relationship. Margaret Vlahos, a counselor at Whatcom, helps students who come to her for guidance. Vlahos is one of two counselors at Whatcom who specialize in short-term counseling. Students come to her for different reasons, ranging from financial woes to dealing with a painful breakup.

“It’s really about keeping your life balanced,” said Vlahos about maintaining a healthy and happy relationship. “You don’t make the other person the total focus.”

In her stress management class at Whatcom, Vlahos encourages her students to maintain their own life, and not make the relationship the center of their world. Problems occur when people start to isolate themselves, cut ties with friendships, and focus solely on their romantic relationship. After everything is said and done, the person will be left feeling more devastated and alone if the relationship turns sour.

Melanie Zabel, a general psychology instructor at Whatcom, recalled one of the best pieces of advice she received from her father. He told her to choose the people in her life wisely, and make a conscious decision before investing emotions into them.

“One of the things I regret is taking relationships in high school too seriously,” Zabel said. Having parents that met and fell in love at a young age led her to the notion that “that was the way it was supposed to be,” Zabel said. After a long-term relationship with a high school sweetheart ended, Zabel said that she was prepared to focus fully on herself for a while—which included receiving her PhD—and perhaps even raising a child on her own. It was not until her early 30’s that the man who became Zabel’s husband came into her life. By that point, she was fully focused on pursuing her personal life goals independently.

“You have to find a relationship that fits into your own priorities,” Zabel said, “and give respect to those priorities.”

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