Around Valentine’s Day, many people frantically try to figure out how they can express their love for their significant other, while others are trying to find a way to avoid the hearts- and love-filled holiday altogether.
Valentine’s Day on every level is about love, and so often – when we are single on such a holiday – we begin to feel depressed, as though there must be something wrong with us or we would have someone to share the day with.
While feeling depressed and lonely are understandable ways to react, there are ways to combat those feelings and embrace the single life, even on a romantic night such as Valentine’s Day.
Embrace your independence. So often, we look at the holidays—not just Valentine’s Day—as days not only of celebration, but also of expectations. I am a romantic, and have been since I was 7 years old and wrote my first love poem (yes, it rhymed).
That said, I am not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day for one simple reason: It is a day where the whole world wants to know “What did you get for/from your partner?”
If it isn’t something big, or what others perceive as romantic, you might get that look and head shake, perhaps you’ll feel judged. I don’t think all the romance of a year should be placed on one day. I have always preferred to be surprised with a gift for no reason at all. I also much prefer giving someone flowers or making dinner for no reason other than because I wanted to, or because I know my partner had a hard day.
Being single on holidays may be hard, and can be lonely if you let it be, but there are advantages. For instance: “I don’t have to buy diamond earrings; I can get myself something instead.” I am in no way saying relationships or romance are bad. I am simply saying, embrace the single life, if that is the life you lead.
Don’t try to avoid the holiday. As someone who has been single more Valentine’s Days than not, I can tell you the desire to not see ads for flowers, not see giant, red plastic hearts hung from store ceilings, or not see bowls of cheap, chalk-like candy hearts that say “Be Mine” everywhere won’t keep you from seeing them.
Just as every year I get tired of Christmas music two days after Thanksgiving (if not sooner), I have learned to embrace it. Just because I don’t want to hear it doesn’t mean that every time I walk in a store, turn on the TV, or even listen to the radio I am not going to hear at least part of a song. Instead of loathing those hearts (or Christmas songs), embrace them.
When I hear Christmas songs, what I do is think of the spirit of the song. This does not mean I love every song, but I listen with the heart of a child or from the point of view of the person who composed the song and what led to writing it. The same can be true of Valentine’s Day.
I loved taking shoe boxes to school as a child, making places for all the cards, then picking the perfect card for each person in my class. In other words, perhaps, rather than viewing the symbols of Valentine’s Day as reminders you are alone, you can see them as reminders of childhood.
Transform your expectations. Valentine’s Day may have a romantic origin based on the love between two people, but you can make a date with yourself. Enjoy a nice bottle of wine, take a bubble bath, make yourself dinner, or watch your favorite movie. Some of the best dates can be those in which your date is you.
Take yourself out for a night on the town and do all the things you enjoy. Remember, in or out of a relationship, we must love ourselves and be comfortable being alone. If a relationship ends, it is ourselves that we are left with, and for that reason, we have to learn to enjoy our own company.
After all, we like all the same things and enjoy all the same places—what is there to not like about you?
Make a date with a friend. While Valentine’s Day is often seen as related to romantic love, make it about not just self-love, but platonic love. This is easy to do. Regardless of gender, age, or orientation, we all have single friends, and chances are when Valentine’s Day rolls around a number of them feel the same desire to avoid the holiday like the plague.
This being the case, why not spend that day or evening together? While yes, misery loves company, that is not what this is about. The idea is not to sit around and dwell on the loneliness or lament your lack of relationship, but to embrace being single.
Instead of giving or getting flowers or candy, give each other some white-elephant-type gift, some goofy thing that no one needs but makes you think of each other. Go out and paint the town, or (if you are like me) hang with a buddy at your favorite dive bar. Make the day not about the lack of a love you can’t imagine being without, but the presence of a friend whose friendship you can’t imagine being without.
Single or coupled up, the fact is no one day should control your happiness or your romance. You will be the same you, have the same value, the same appreciation for things on February 15 as you did on February 13, so why should February 14 be different?
Give yourself the break you deserve and judge yourself not on the one day of the year the calendar says “today is for lovers”—instead, remember that every day you need to love yourself.
Author – Justin Nutt LSCSW, LAC – Special Contributor to the El Paso Herald-Post