Valentine’s Day is credited as being the most romantic day of the year, but for people who aren’t in a relationship - and wish they were - it can actually be the most difficult. This is because it’s an annual holiday which is all about being coupled up and in love, so if you’re single, struggling to get over a break-up or worrying that you’ll never meet ‘the one’, then it may leave you feeling sad, frustrated or even angry.
So, if you are single on 14 February - and you don’t want to be - how exactly can you cope with the negative emotions you may experience on that day, and how can you get through it?
The first thing to remember is that Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday, just like Easter, Halloween and Christmas - and in reality it is really no different to any of the other 364 days in the year.
Katie McNamara, who is the host and creator of a dating podcast, Single Sounds, however, acknowledges that this may be hard to do.
Speaking to NationalWorld, she said: “Despite telling ourselves that Valentine’s Day is just a commercialised celebration that is used to encourage consumers to spend money on products and experiences they don’t necessarily need, it can still feel upsetting to not have someone to spend it with. Valentine’s Day this year is on a Tuesday which is not the most exciting day of the week, it has to be said, and it is just one day of the whole year.”
Internationally certified matchmaker and relationship coach Alex Mellor-Brook also believes that feelings of sadness due to being single are linked to societal norms which have historically dictated that we need to have a partner to be happy.
He said: “Depending on how you relate to the label, being single can be tough enough, but having a specific day that is so over commercialised can make you feel a whole lot worse. For decades the ideology of marriage and family have been used as indicators of success too, adding extra pressure to anyone who doesn’t fit that mould. It’s like watching an hour’s worth of food adverts when you’re on a diet.”
Mellor-Brook, who is also the co-founder of Select Personal Introductions dating agency, added: “So how do you cope with V-Day when you’re single? You can either hide away until it passes or attack it head-on.”
If you’d like to take the approach of attacking head on, there are numerous ways you can do this. We’ve put together a list, using advice from several relationship experts, so you can deal with the day in a healthy way - and if you follow them there’s a good chance you will end it feeling happy and content.
Do something for yourself that you know you enjoy
McNamara said: “I would really recommend planning something with a friend just to distract you from the say.” She suggested that trying a new activity could bring excitement but also said doing something familiar could be more comfortable if you already feel negative. She added: “ Think about what you would usually do on a Tuesday and make it that bit more positive by living the life you want to live.”
Mellor-Brook added: “Try something that will keep your mind busy and the enjoyment levels up; something that will boost the dopamine, raise the testosterone and norepinephrine in your body. You’ll probably enjoy Valentine’s Day more than a lot of the conforming couples out there.”
Reflect on all the positives on being single
McNamara says that it’s important to remember that if you are single on Valentine’s Day that means you have complete freedom and can choose to do exactly what you want to do, which is incredibly liberating. You also have more time to develop other relationships with friends and family, and your emotions are not being tied to someone else so you’re also super independent.
Relationship psychologist Mairéad Molloy also believes that single people are more self-sufficient than their coupled up counterparts and they can even find that being alone can be less stressful, and as a result they are healthier.
Ed Buhler, director at sexual wellness brand Bodyjoys added: “There will be plenty more Valentine’s Days in the future, so take advantage of your independence while you have it.”
It’s highly likely that social media will be filled with loved up content on 14 February, so McNamara suggests stopping yourself from seeing it if you think it will increase feelings of loneliness. She said: “I’d suggest deleting the apps entirely for this period to really detach as this can bring other mental health benefits too as a bonus.”
Serena Novelli, certified intimacy, love and relationship expert, added: “Images of happy couples all over social media make it easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you are the only person in the world not to be experiencing true love”. But, that’s definitely not true. If you start to feel this way when scrolling through your social feeds, get off them.
Brighten someone else’s day
Being kind to others is proven to be a natural anxiety antidote, according to McNamara. If you know someone else who will find this day particularly hard then you could support each other through it by doing something nice together, or even just talking on the phone or texting. You could also show someone that you appreciate them with a small gesture or act of kindness.
Novelli also suggests getting together with friends and focusing on Galentine’s Day rather than Valentine’s Day, a day which is an alternative to V-Day and is all about celebrating friendships and the love found in platonic relationships.
She said: “Organise a Galentine’s day spa or brunch and remind yourself of the love you do have around you - it doesn’t have to come in the form of a romantic partner. Get the girls together for something fun. Your single friends will appreciate the effort you have put in.”
Be kind to yourself
From buying yourself small treats, like your favourite chocolate or flowers, to giving yourself relaxation time by taking the whole day off from work or study - if you can - you should do nice things for yourself on Valentine’s Day, says McNamara. Because there’s no rule that presents have to come from other people.
Novelli also suggests creating a self-love ritual for yourself. She said: “Self love is the most powerful source of love that we can ever tap into, so be kind to yourself. Indulge in activities that light you up and make you feel good; take yourself on a date, treat yourself to those new shoes, soak in heavenly milk baths surrounded by your favourite scented candles. Practice gratitude daily, and remind yourself daily - not just Valentine’s Day - that you are worthy of the most devotional love of all - your own.”
Mellor-Brook added: “Being single is a choice, it may not be your future goal but it’s far better to find happiness in being single in the present than surviving unhappily in a toxic relationship. Learning to appreciate yourself is really important. After all, if you can’t love yourself, how are you going to love somebody else? Spend this time getting comfortable with you and re-focus your energies on some self-love.”
Write yourself a letter of love
Novelli said: “This is a practice I use with my clients time and time again. We are so conditioned to focus on the pieces we don’t like about ourselves, but what if we flip the switch and tap into total love and acceptance of ourselves?”
She suggests writing a letter of love like you have never received before, but to yourself. She added that if you want to tap into something deeper and more meaningful you can imagine yourself as your higher being or energy and send unconditional love down. You should include aspects of your physicality, your soul mission, your personality, your ambition and more - and you should soon feel a lot happier and stronger.
Life and Business Coach Mark Wilkinson added that “Once you can love you the rest of the world will love you, and it won’t be long before you find a loving partner to love you too - if that’s what you want.”