Here’s how the single and/or heartbroken can survive Feb. 14, according to experts
Stand down, Cupid.
Valentine’s Day can be a lovely occasion to treat a partner to dinner, exchange silly cards or receive that long-awaited annual box of chocolates. But for the heartbroken or single who put stock in the date, it can also be a sore reminder of loneliness, failed relationships and lost loved ones. The GIF keyboard Tenor, for example, says it sees a 455% spike on Feb. 14 in searches for the word “alone,” CNET reports; searches for “lonely” increase by 321%.
About 29% of single folks plan to pamper themselves this V-Day, according to a recent RetailMeNot survey, while 23% will treat themselves to dinner, 21% will watch rom-coms and 18% will get themselves a gift. If you’re dreading the date for one reason or another, here’s expert advice on how to be alone on Valentine’s Day:
Remind yourself it’s just another day. “Sometimes you have to take the emotional value out of the date … You are the same person you were Feb. 13 (or) Feb. 15,’” licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert Stacy Kaiser told Moneyish. “It’s really about self talk — it’s about saying to yourself, ‘This is just a Wednesday; this date has been created to represent couples in love, and I’m still a good, solid person with or without this date.”
Acknowledge that you’re upset. “Trying to fight off the feeling that you’re angry or sad or whatever usually doesn’t work,” said licensed psychologist Joy Harden Bradford. “If you realize, ‘OK, I can be really upset about this day but not let that feeling overwhelm me,’ then you typically will fare better.” “You can have those feelings — that’s OK,” said licensed clinical psychologist Lisa Herman, founder of Synergy eTherapy. “And you can choose to think a little bit rationally about (them).”
Plan ahead — and know your triggers. That might mean stocking up on food in advance to avoid storefront Valentine’s displays, ordering takeout to avoid nauseating couples out to dinner, steering clear of social media and curating your TV experience with Netflix to avoid ads.
“If you can’t find plans with somebody else, then you should plan on doing something you like to do — order in your favorite dinner, binge-watch a new series, grab a great book,” Kaiser said.“Something so that you’re busy and not sitting. Sitting makes you think, and overthink.”
If you’re grieving the loss of a significant other, Kaiser said, “you certainly can take that day to allow yourself to have some memories about your loved one.” “Eat a food that you two used to eat together, look at photos and let yourself cry,” she suggested. “Honor that relationship with that person even though they’re gone.” Avoid binge drinking: “Alcohol is a depressant, and so even though in the moment you think it is making you feel better, tomorrow you will actually feel worse,” she said.
Try to reach out to friends and family to make plans for the evening, suggested Herman, as “you’d be surprised at how many people would embrace that.” On the flipside, she added, “if you do know somebody that’s lost a loved one … reach out and say, ‘I know this day might be hard. Do you want to get a drink? Do you want to have dinner?’”
Go on a self-improvement kick. “If you are in a place where you are feeling down about things, then it’s always good to think about setting goals and reflecting on areas in the past that you need to improve on so that you can wake up on Feb. 15 and get started doing something that is more positive,” Kaiser said. “It’s almost like a New Year’s resolution day.”
Be thankful. “Maybe you want to use Valentine’s Day to make a gratitude list and celebrate all the things you can be grateful for,” said relationship specialist Rachel Sussman. “It just seems so silly to spend a whole day depressed about the one thing you don’t have when every other box might be checked.”
Don’t internalize romantic social media posts. “The grass isn’t always greener,” Herman said. “Just because someone’s in a relationship doesn’t mean that it’s a happy or healthy one.”
Do whatever you’d normally do. “If you’re feeling particularly down, what would you do in any other circumstance … to make yourself feel better?” Bradford said. “And do that on Wednesday night as well, if you’re already anticipating it’s going to be a tough night.”
Treat yourself. “Plan a really nice night for yourself,” Sussman said. “Take yourself on a date: Go see a movie you’ve wanted to see, go out to one of your favorite restaurants and eat dinner at the bar. Or plan a trip. Do something to make yourself feel accomplished and powerful and successful.” “You can’t wait for somebody else to care for you more than you care for you,” Herman added.
Spread some non-romantic love. The day doesn’t have to be about a romantic partner, Herman pointed out — you can show love for your parents, kids, friends or even strangers. Bring a bunch of valentines to a children’s hospital, help out at an animal shelter or bring food to an elderly neighbor, she suggested. “It’s not all about receiving … You can give something, too,” Herman said. “It’ll feed your soul way more than getting chocolates from somebody you might be dating.”
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