Let’s Talk Relationships: Single on Valentine’s Day? How to be your own valentine
|Published: 02-09-2024 12:48 PM
Many of us are facing Valentine’s Day with a lack of enthusiasm, to say the least. You may be newly single and are feeling raw and shaky. You may have been on your own for a long time and here you are, solo, once again on this holiday. Or you may find yourself anywhere in between. Whatever the particulars of your situation, Valentine’s Day can certainly feel daunting.
Take refuge in knowing that in 2021, 38% of adults were found to be unpartnered. According to the well-known magazine and website Psychology Today, many singles are thriving, and consider their singlehood “an opportunity for contemplation, relaxation, productivity, authenticity, and personal growth.” However, if you are not feeling that psyched about being single, I’m aiming to bring you some encouragement.
We are all bombarded with media, advertisements and store displays emphasizing this day for celebrating romantic relationships. It’s easy to get the message that something might be wrong with us for being unpartnered. But what if we could make it a good day in spite of all this? Actually, how about the idea of making it a really good day?
Many of us struggle with the most important — and longest — relationship we’ll ever have: the one with ourselves. Since we all come from imperfect backgrounds, with some hits to our self-esteem having taken place, we understandably carry some wounds into adulthood. Truthfully, all of us can benefit from a bit more self-love and inner kindness, whether we are single or partnered.
Valentine’s Day is a holiday that reflects our couples-centric culture; and for single people, it’s easy to feel downright bad about ourselves and our relationship status as this day approaches. If you can relate, Valentine’s Day might be a good time to turn inward in a self-supporting way, to offer yourself love, recognition and celebration of how unique and special you are. The feeling of being loved does not have to come from another person. We can give love to ourselves — a powerful choice that is a gift we can both offer and receive!
Here are some suggestions for making your Valentine’s Day a more positive experience. With some creativity and self-love, you may even be able to have a heck of a lot of fun!
■Ignore Valentine’s Day by not making a big deal about it. Treat it like any ordinary day.
■Have a date with yourself. Take a long, relaxing bath with candles. Allow yourself to watch sports bloopers the whole evening. Order a meal from your favorite restaurant. Work out at the health club. Book an hour of healthy skin nourishment and relaxation with a local massage therapist. Play a good game of basketball with a drop-in league. What would be a treat for you? You may have preferences that do not even cost a penny.
■Focus on what you are grateful for in your life. Take some time to bring to mind what you love and appreciate. What is in your life that you can be grateful for? Could it be a special friend, relative or place? Even though you may not be living your ideal life at this moment, there is always something to be thankful for. I encourage you to consider the bigger picture also — the challenges and misfortune others are facing around the world — to help you remember how fortunate you truly are.
■Get together with available friends. Plan a fun gathering, at yours or someone else’s house, on Zoom, or at a restaurant, and spend some quality time together. Invite each person to share something humorous, such as a piece of writing to read aloud, a funny video, or a story of the funniest (or most embarrassing!) thing that has ever happened to them. Play games or cook together at home.
■Spend time in nature. Go on a walk/hike with a friend, a dog, or yourself. Surrounding yourself with the sounds, smells, and sights of nature can be soothing and invigorating. Spend time gazing at the scenery; look closely, and with curiosity, at the many forms of life around you. Look up at the sky, and notice the clouds, the sunset, the moon and stars. If you’re at home, spend some quality time with a pet, or taking care of plants. These are all opportunities to feel connected with the larger web of life, of which we are all a part.
■Reach out to someone you know who might feel lonely. Make a phone call, letting them know you are thinking of them. Visit and spend some quality time with them, offering your company (and perhaps some homemade treats!). Getting out of ourselves and offering heart-felt love and support to others can brighten our day as well as theirs.
If you anticipate feeling lonely and are dreading Valentine’s Day, I am cheering you on to set any cultural pressures aside and become your own valentine this year. You can transform this holiday by filling it with nurturing attention toward yourself (and others). A truly self-loving Valentine’s Day is just a choice away.
Amy Newshore is a couples therapist/coach who earned her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Antioch New England University and went on to train in the Developmental Model for Couples Therapy along with NonViolent Communication which serve as the foundation of her work as a Relationship Coach. For more information visit her website at www.coachingbyamy.com.