Singles Take Heart: How to Reclaim Valentine’s Day

by Stephanie Dodaro

woman alone on valentines dayOn the list of most dreaded holidays, Valentine’s Day is probably near the top. It combines all the pressure of New Year’s Eve and the emotional expectations and gift-giving stress of Christmas. We’re encouraged to make expensive, public displays of love, such as sending flowers to a sweetheart’s workplace or taking them out to a lavish dinner. If you’re single on Valentine’s Day, seeing all these expressions of affection can make you feel left out or unlovable, especially if you’re already feeling down or depressed.

One of the great expectations of our society is that each of us has a perfect match and that it’s our goal to find that person and build a fulfilling and enduring relationship with them. If we haven’t found our perfect match, we’re considered incomplete or even a bit of a failure. In some communities, the pressure to find and settle down with a significant other can be intense.

In recent years, we’ve slowly become more accepting and supportive of those who are single, either by choice or by chance. However, when all those cupids and red hearts go up in store windows and friends start discussing their extravagant plans for Valentine’s Day, even the happiest of singles can feel some twinges of loneliness or regret for loves lost or never found.

If you’re single on Valentine’s Day and feeling down, try some of these tips and activities:

Acknowledge your feelings: No person is an island. It’s normal to be affected by stimulus around you, including all the hoopla and expectations surrounding holidays like Valentine’s Day. If you’re feeling sad, acknowledge it, give yourself a break, then move on to other more constructive activities.

Look at the positive: Celebrate that fact that you’re self-sufficient and building your own life. Remind yourself that it’s better to be single than to shoehorn yourself into a relationship that isn’t right for you.

Show others you care: Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful opportunity for us to show appreciation for the special people in our lives, whether they’re partners, relatives, or friends. Your gesture doesn’t have to cost a lot either; call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, send homemade cards, or invite a favorite aunt to go to the movies. You’re guaranteed to get affection in return.

Treat yourself: You know that money you would’ve spent on that giant teddy bear for him? Or that black velvet painting of Elvis for her? Take that money and do something nice for yourself, like take a spa day or buy those hiking boots you’ve had your eye on.

Help others
: Nothing puts your life in perspective, and gets you out of your head, like assisting others. Plan a few small random acts of kindness, volunteer, or donate your giant teddy bear money to charity.

Develop your interests: Remember those New Year’s resolutions? Want to try something you’ve never done before, like taking a kayaking class, making a fancy recipe, or visiting that restaurant or park you always pass by on the freeway? You can remake Valentine’s Day into an opportunity to reconnect with your self-improvement goals or expand your interests.

If you’re already feeling sad or depressed, check in with yourself. Have you been feeling down for a while? If so, it may be time to seek help. Talk about your feelings with a trusted friend or visit your health care provider, who will be able to refer you to counseling services or medical therapies.

Make Valentine’s Day a time to show yourself, or your friends and community, some love. Or do nothing. After all, it’s just a day.