I've now written several pieces about Valentine's Day -- most of which have been geared towards couples. (See also: Why I Love, Love, LOVE Valentine's Day; How to Make Your Valentine's Day Suck Less; and The Ultimate Valentine's Day Gift Guide.)
But an anonymous Quora user recently inspire me to (finally) write that blog post for all the people who are single... and not so happy about it.
Obviously, not all single people are miserable on Valentine's Day -- but in Anon's own words:
Every year, when Valentine's Day approaches, the surroundings change and everywhere there is like too much 'advertisement' or 'celebration' of Valentine's Day, which makes me feel really sad as I am still single and had 3 failed relationships before. Is it normal? Please help me feel better.
And here is my answer:
First of all, it is TOTALLY normal to feel sad on Valentine's Day. Honestly, even people in relationships can feel sad around Valentine's Day. Which is why, as I wrote in How to Make Your Valentine's Day Suck Less, two of the most common times of the year for couples to break up are before and after Valentine's Day... and Christmas.
So, yes. It's totally normal for single people to feel sad and frustrated during a super hyped, marketing-driven holiday that's meant for couples.
Here's what you can do to feel better.
1. Cognitive reframing.
In This Is One of The Most Powerful Psychology Hacks Ever Invented, And It Only Takes a Few Minutes, I wrote:
Cognitive reframing has long been used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help patients with identify -- and then dispute -- negative thoughts and thought patterns. Originally developed to combat depression, it quickly caught on among psychologists, and soon spread to more general uses. Read more >
Cognitive reframing works because our human brains are terrible at distinguishing fantasy from reality. When you imagine a situation or cause or outcome to be true, part of your mind believes it is true. Even though you consciously realize that it was just a fantasy, part of your mind (the part that is often associated with dark thoughts and negative emotions) still feels like it is true. Moreover, many of the brain regions that are responsible for recalling actual memories are active when recalling false memories.
Here's how I see this benefitting you:
Sit down and write a letter to your lost love. Say everything you wish you could say. Get everything off your chest. But don't send the letter.
2. Change the meaning of Valentine's Day.
Although I recently wrote a pretty damning piece about the Vagina Monologues being a disempowering, crass and poorly-written play, I do see the value in celebrating V-Day --a global movement to end violence against women that is often celebrated on and around Valentine's Day.
If Valentine's Day bums you out, get involved in V Day rallies, fundraisers and events. Volunteer. Spread the word. Do something you can feel proud of. Make a difference!
If there are no official V Day events happening near you, VOLUNTEER in some other way. Spend the week volunteering/fundraising in other ways. Support a cause that is close to your heart. Make a difference.
As a side bonus: getting involved in the community is a great way to meet new people -- including potential dating partners.
Work at a booth, usher a play, attend a rally, or help organize a 5k to end domestic violence on Valentine's Day.
3. Make plans with your friends.
Just because you're single on Valentine's Day, doesn't mean you have to be alone on Valentine's Day. Invite your friends who are also single to join you on a special adventure, treasure hunt -- or even speed dating/singles event. Keep your minds busy, entertained, and engaged.
Check out some of the suggestions in How to Make Your Valentine's Day Suck Less. Any of these things could be done either with a partner, or a likeminded group of friends.
So have a great experience together for Valentine's Day. Rent a kayak and go crab fishing! Rent some wetsuits and go snorkeling or scuba diving! Buy a beautiful picnic basket and have a feast in the wilderness!
Blast the blues away -- with a laser!
Having plans with friends will give you something to look forward to and be excited about on Valentine's Day. All those silly decorations and sickly sweet advertisements will just remind you that in three weeks -- two weeks -- one more week! -- you get to go on your big adventure with your friends!
4. Take advantage of President's Day.
Don't limit yourself to friends who are local. If you've got a buddy who lives a few hours or a short plane ride away, this could be the best time for you to drive or fly out to visit them -- or even for you to both fly out from where you live and meet in the middle.
Valentine's Day is always the week before (or weekend of) President's Day. That means you will probably have a three-day weekend. Getting out of town for a few days is great for the soul -- especially when you've got something to look forward to that will distract you from negative thoughts about being single.
Here's me, spending the weekend in Monterey, CA, with friends. We went scuba diving and bioluminescent kayaking. It was awesome.
Was it chilly? Sort of. Were we cold? NO. Because we wore the appropriate clothing for the weather. There is no such thing as "too cold" -- there is only "not dressed right."
5. Do (or buy) something loving and thoughtful for someone else.
In Money Does Buy Happiness - If You Know How To Spend It, I wrote:
Spending as little as $5 on someone other than yourself increases your happiness.
I have done this many times on Valentine's Day, and it's always worked. It makes me so excited -- because I know that, any minute, this person is going to call and say, "AH OMG I LOVE YOU!"
Need some inspiration to get you started? Let's say you're working with a $5-10 budget. Here are a few examples of gifts I've sent to friends that tooooooootally made my day (and brightened the day of the people I sent them to):
But here's the thing. You don't have to send/pick something out for a friend. Your grandparents probably miss you very much, and would be THRILLED to know you were thinking of them on Valentine's Day.
A card, a box of chocolates or even candies would make their MONTH. I really like this1940's Old Fashioned Sweets Decade Gift Box:
But, as I wrote in The Perfect Valentine's (or Birthday, or even Grandparent's) Day Gift for ANYONE! , when it comes to grandparents, you absolutely can't go wrong with photo gifts: mugs, framed photos, prints... or even this warm and cuddly Photo Blanket.
Try one or all of these suggestions to have a happy, exciting Valentine's Day. And if you have additional suggestions, share them in the comments!
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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