Valentine’s Day has come to represent the epitome of romantic love. Pictures of hearts and flowers dominate social media and getting dinner reservations at a decent restaurant is harder than scoring box seats at the Super Bowl. If you happen to be unattached, figuring out how to celebrate Valentine’s Day alone (without diving into a vat of Chunky Munky or drowning your sorrows woth multiple bottles of wine!) can be a real challenge.
The reason is obvious: you feel like a failure.
You feel like you are the only person on the planet who DOESN’T have anyone who loves them on Valentine’s Day.
Remembering that, statistically speaking, you’re not even close to the only person who isn’t at a romantic dinner sipping champagne with the person of their dreams in a candlelit room, doesn’t help.
Everywhere you go, you’re bombarded with reminders that love is in the air, and you’re not breathing it.
So, what to do?
Let’s start with a few things NOT to do.
How NOT to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Alone
Unless you are truly masochistic, doing any of these things by yourself on Valentine’s Day will only throw you into a depression that’s deeper than the Mariana Trench (i.e. deeper than the deepest part of the ocean).
- Watching a romantic movie.
- Listening to romantic music, sad music, or any songs dealing with heartbreak (i.e. 99% of all country songs).
- Going out to dinner alone.
- Hanging out at home alone while feeling sorry for yourself.
- Going anywhere or doing anything that reminds you of your ex.
- Stalking your ex and his/her new squeeze on social media.
- Just being on social media and viewing a news feed that’s stuffed with sappy Valentine’s Day memes.
- Spending your evening thinking about how happy your ex is, or what s/he is doing with someone else tonight.
- Wandering through the Valentine’s Day aisle of any grocery or drug store. (Although walking in the same aisle on February 15 when it looks like a cyclone went through it and everything that’s left is half price can be vaguely satisfying.)
- Getting drunk and then texting your ex.
While all of those are prime examples of how you can make your Valentine’s Day truly miserable, there are ways that you can have a great day, even if you’re by yourself.
To start you can remind yourself of all the benefits of celebrating Valentine’s Day alone.
The Upside of Being Alone on Valentine’s Day
Here are just a few of the things you won’t have to navigate if you happen to be single or divorced on Valentine’s Day.
- You won’t have to fret for hours over what you're going to wear when you go out because your wardrobe (and perhaps your waistline!) are still not back to what they were before the pandemic hit;
- You can buy all the chocolate you want at a tremendous discount after February 14.
- If you live in the Midwest, you don’t have to worry about braving blizzards and freezing temperatures just to go out to dinner. (Assuming, of course, that going out to dinner is even a possibility!)
- You can stand out in any crowd simply by NOT wearing red.
- You don’t have to pretend to be romantic if you’re just not feeling it.
- If you're able to wait a day or two, you can get a ginormous bouquet of flowers for yourself at less than half the retail price after February 14.
- You can drink a whole bottle of wine at home without having to share it, AND without having to pay triple the bottle price in a fancy restaurant.
How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Alone … and Enjoy It!
Now that you know what NOT to do on Valentine's Day, let's talk about what you CAN do to lift your spirits and maybe even have a good time!
Here's the key to having a fabulous Valentine’s day all by yourself: Control what you focus on.
Yes. It really is that simple!
Unfortunately, controlling your focus may be simple, but it's not easy!
But, here's the deal.
The reason people feel horrible spending Valentine’s Day alone is because they’re focused on what they DON’T have – i.e. someone who loves them more than Romeo loved Juliet (or vice versa). At the same time, they selectively ignore everything they DO have – like their kids, their health, their job, their home, their family, their friends … and the list goes on.
Having a great Valentine’s Day, then, starts with focusing on everything you DO HAVE and being grateful for it. No matter who you are, or how bad your situation seems, I promise you there is SOMETHING in your life you can be grateful for.
Step #1: Feel grateful.
Step #2: Decide to be happy.
How to Be Happy on Valentine’s Day (or Any Other Day)
Now, I know at this point you’re probably thinking: “Yeah, right. I’m supposed to just ‘decide’ to be happy. It’s not that easy!”
And maybe it’s not.
If you’re in the middle of a divorce and grieving the loss of your marriage, it may be really hard to “just be happy.” You don’t feel it. As a matter of fact, “being happy” is pretty much the LAST thing you feel like doing.
If that’s not what you want, either because you’re overwhelmed by grief right now, or for some other reason, that’s okay! You don’t need to be happy just because it’s Valentine’s Day!
Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is that you're feeling. It's okay!
Hundreds of thousands of other people on the planet are going to be grumpy, crabby, upset, angry, lonely etc. today. (And that, by the way, has nothing to do with the fact that it’s Valentine’s Day! There are tons of grumpy, crabby, upset and unhappy people in the world every day.)
You don’t have to PRETEND to be anything today! As a matter of fact, pretending to be something you’re not generally only makes you feel worse.
But if you actually WANT to be happy, no matter how you may be feeling right now, that’s a choice. What’s more, it’s a choice only you can make for yourself.
How to Make Yourself Happy
Once you decide that you want to be happy, your next step is to commit to making it happen.
Until you make that commitment, your “decision” is really more like a “wish.” It’s as if you were saying to yourself, “Yeah, I really have a taste for something sweet right now. But I don’t feel like getting up off the couch. So, I’ll just sit here and hope that someone brings me chocolate.”
That’s awesome if Cupid makes house calls at your place. But, for most of us, “something sweet” doesn’t materialize out of thin air. If we want it, we have to get up and get it.
If you want to be happy, you need to do something that makes you happy.
That could be treating yourself to a massage. Or it could be watching a movie you really want to see (with popcorn, of course!). Spending a quiet evening with a good book and a cup of tea could be a luxury. So could going to a sporting event with your friends.
WHAT you do doesn’t really matter much. THAT you do something you enjoy, does.
Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Valentines Day Alone (and Be Happy!)
Deciding to be happy is one thing. Knowing what you can DO to create that happiness is another.
In case you're struggling to come up with ideas of what you could do to make your Valentine's Day fun, interesting, and happy - even if you're spending it alone - here are the top ten things you can do.
Call an old friend who you know loves you but whom you haven’t spoken with in a long time. Have a long conversation.
2. Spread Kindness.
Do something kind for someone else. Find someone who is older than you (think parent, grandparent, or older friend) or someone who could use a little helping hand (e.g. someone who lost their job) and do something wonderful for them. Send them flowers. Take them to dinner. Send a gift basket. Do something that will make them smile.
3. Celebrate the Love that Got You Here.
Cook a romantic dinner for your parents. Not only will that make your parents’ day, but it will allow you to spend some quality time hanging out with them.
4. Indulge Your Senses.
Pamper yourself with a spa day. You can do it at home with bath bombs, wine, candles and chocolate. Or you can totally splurge and get a massage, facial, manicure and/or pedicure at a real spa!
5. Create a Floral Feast for Your Eyes.
Treat yourself to flowers. Either buy a totally luxurious arrangement that brightens your office or home, or make one yourself (for half the price!).
6. Tickle Your Tastebuds.
Treat yourself to some high-quality take-out food and make your own beautiful candle-lit dinner at home. Or, if you like to cook, take the time to make yourself a really elegant and delicious meal.
7. Binge on Movies That Make You Happy.
Line up your favorite movies, make a bowl of popcorn, and have a marathon movie night. (If you really want to make it awesome, invite a friend to join you!)
8. Celebrate with Friends.
Make a memorable moment for your friends and throw a Galentine’s Day party. Invite your friends over for a fun evening packed with luscious food, decadent sweets, and loads of laughter and good times.
9. Treat Yourself.
Splurge a little. Is there something you’ve been dying to get, but you just couldn’t justify the cost? Instead of spending money on a fancy dinner, or an expensive spa day, buy yourself the thing you’ve really been wanting. As long as your purchase won’t throw you into debt you can’t afford, give yourself permission to live a little!
10. Say Thanks.
Write thank you notes. Studies have shown the powerful effect that gratitude has on both our bodies and our minds. So instead of spending your day thinking about everything you DON’T have, spend it being grateful for everything you DO have. You’re guaranteed to feel better!
The Bottom Line
Celebrating Valentine’s Day alone doesn’t have to make you feel bad. As a matter of fact, it can even make you feel good. Once you’ve been able to turn what could have been a miserable day into a good day (or even a “meh” day) you will have accomplished something significant.
You will have taken control of your feelings, and taken control of your day. From there, you can go on to taking control of another day, and another.
If you do that, you will be well on your way to creating a lot of great days. Eventually, you will create a life that you love. And in the end, “love” is what Valentine’s Day is truly all about.
This article was originally posted in 2020 and updated on February 14, 2023