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 though, figuring out how to celebrate Valentine’s Day alone (without slitting your wrists!) 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.
- 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 spend a week doing a juice fast just to lose all the weight you gained eating chocolate;
- If you don’t care about gaining weight, 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. (For some reason, Valentine’s Day always seems to be snowy and/or extraordinarily cold!)
- 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.
- You can get ginormous bouquets of flowers 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!
The key to having a fabulous Valentine’s day all by yourself is to control what you focus on.
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 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.
So, 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!
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 will always be a ton of 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 the Easter Bunny 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 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 taking yourself to 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.
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.