Ah romance! It's for everyone, right? That's certainly the full throttle message of Valentine's Day marketing. Yet, this is a message that can undermine the determination of the single person to forge through this day unscathed by romantic themes. Whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, being bombarded by romantic comedies on TV, the romance novels and cutesy heart-shaped plastic gimmicks thrust into stores' front windows, and the drippy advertising everywhere can leave you feeling cranky, bothered, or even sad.
Being happy as a single on Valentine's Day is a state of mind reached by resisting the pressures to "couple up" and by celebrating the choices you've made and the way life is for you right now.
- Get some perspective. If you feel sad because Valentine's Day causes feelings of loneliness and reminds you that you're "just" a single, it might help to realize that there are plenty of other single people experiencing Valentine's Day too. While some of them might be feeling as miserable as you, some of them are probably having a wonderful time sniggering at the pointlessness of Valentine's Day or not even bothering to give it any notice. And then there are many couples who resist Valentine's Day as much as possible, despairing of the pressure to conform to purchasing gifts and celebrating the occasion like clockwork and who find the commercialization of Valentine's Day crass even though they're in love. With this perspective in mind, it can be a little easier to stop sniffling into your handkerchief.
- Write a list of all the good points about being single. For example, free time, no compromises on the homefront, less responsibilities, etc. And think about how some of those good points would evaporate within coupledom. Focus on the benefits rather than seeing drawbacks.
- If people choose to rub your "singleness" in your face on Valentine's Day, be strong and reply with compassion: "I like being single. I get to choose how I want to live without having to make compromises, meals, or even the bed." And you might wish to mention that statistics reveal that half the community is single, with 51 percent of women, for example, living without a spouse.
3. Be happy within yourself regardless of your relationship status. Romantic tales often suggest that another person can complete you, with common sayings such as "my better half", "I was half the person without you", and "our two hearts beat as one" being readily asserted with few people stopping to assess what that actually means. If taken too seriously, this unhealthy perspective can mean co-dependence, loss of independence, and losing yourself in another person. That is hardly romantic! And does coupledom equate with happiness ever after? Divorce statistics and the stories of unhappy marriages seem to attest otherwise for a large group of people. Bear in mind that there's no need to change who you are, or to lose your liberty or your habits when you're single. Rather than feeling down on Valentine's Day, celebrate the strengths and achievements that testify to you being a whole and healthy person, a person who has space for love should it come along but who does not need such a relationship to create self-worth and happiness right now.
4. Avoid being swept away by the tide. You may be very romantic and long for your "soul mate" some day but patience may need to be your current virtue. There are plenty of Valentine's Days in a lifetime just as there are plenty of possible people with whom you could eventually fall in love. Sometimes what is difficult about surviving Valentine's Day as a single is the sheer preponderance of love messaging suggesting that you need to hurry or you'll risk missing the boat. If that were the case, then love in your senior years wouldn't be possible and that's just not true. Many romances spark throughout people's lives, no matter what age. In the meantime, love the life you're living and don't live for love.
- Remember what can happen to those who rush love and marry before knowing themselves. This can end in one partner realizing some day that they need to "find themselves" and the relationship suffers for it.
- Diapers are not romantic. Endless nights without sleep are not romantic. Don't rush before you're absolutely ready to commit; enjoy this single time, now or for as long as you intend it to last.
5. Treat yourself. As you're standing in the queue waiting to pay for your mundane everyday items, if you find yourself falling for the doe-eyed stuffed teddy holding a heart while wishing someone would send you one of those soppy cards, or you're salivating over the box of heart-shaped chocolates, consider treating yourself instead of beating yourself up. If that teddy is so cute you want it on your bed, give in. Or better yet, splurge on buying something you'd really like to have, like a bottle of perfume, a six-pack of European beers, a new coffee plunger, or a recent book by a favorite author. Don't make this day about deprivation!
- Do something decadent like attend a day spa all day long or go for a sightseeing flight over your city. Take along some friends if doing this alone feels weird.
6. Find out what's happening in the singles scene. A number of bars hold singles parties that will give you the chance to celebrate the day as an unattached person. Don't take your love expectations though; just go to have a great time and to discover some new people to talk to and share cocktails with. This isn't about falling for anyone out of loneliness!
7. Think of the money you're saving. The overly romantic person might reply "Ah but what price can be placed on love? It is priceless!" That kind of thinking can lead you to live a life of extravagance without focusing on the practicalities and the importance of validating relationships with words and deeds over expensive love tokens. Diamonds are expensive and they're not that good at relationship advice.
8. Love your exercise. If love has you in its grip, shake it off like you'd shake off the blues, with some good old-fashioned exercise. A run around the park, a skate across the rink, or a swim in the pool might be just the ticket to help you resist the more primal desires.
9. Consider the day after Valentine's Day. Will all those lovers continue whispering sweet nothings in each other's ears, will they keep surprising one another with candlelit dinners and trips down memory lane? It is to be hoped so. Reality however, suggests otherwise and we all, single or unattached, can fall into a habit of not acknowledging the people who matter in our life. Why not use Valentine's Day as a reminder to spend the rest of the year letting people know how much they mean to you. That will show your coupled friends that love is everywhere.