5 Ways to Embrace Being Single on Valentine’s Day
By DR. KAREN STEWART
At the beginning of every year, a funny phenomenon happens in my office: My coupled patients (especially the female ones) lose the glow of the holiday spirit and begin to fantasize and create plans for the upcoming holiday of love -- Valentine's Day.
Every retail store, restaurant and media outlet begins to inundate us with how to prepare for this big day of love, with constant reminders of expressing yourself to that someone special. Patients -- well, female patients -- who are in serious relationships will talk with me and their closest friends about the possibility that they'll be getting a token of their partner's love: an engagement ring (or some form of jewelry), travel, flowers, restaurant reservations or other fantasy gifts.
Male clients, while admittedly more stressed and anxious, lean toward fantasies of champagne and lingerie and what they are hoping to "receive" on Valentine's Day.
However, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, many single people will begin to feel the pressure, sadness and sometimes anger of this time of year. Everywhere you turn is a reminder that there is a day approaching in which you will not be included.
So what if you don't have that someone special? How should you "celebrate" such a grand and glorious day if you don't currently have that person in your life? I have been counseling many people -- of all ages and both sexes -- through this time of year, and to my knowledge all have survived Valentine's Day single.
My approach may be a little different than other shrinks: I try to help people embrace what they have and not focus on what they are lacking or what they think they need at this time in their lives. Here are a few tips for embracing being single on Valentine’s Day:
1. Valentine's Day really is just another day. Sure, it's all over our calendars, but it really shouldn't have the impact on our lives that it does. That's what I call brilliant retail marketing. Spend the day doing something that you would not normally do for yourself. Get a massage, pamper yourself with a spa treatment or manicure or treat yourself to something as a small gift for loving yourself.
2. Eat and drink what you want. OK, in moderation and safely, of course -- but it can be a day to allow yourself to experience pleasure from something you'd normally stay away from. When was the last time you had a dessert with your dinner? Or pizza and potato chips? Give yourself permission to indulge in something that gives you pleasure.
3. Giving really can be better than receiving. When we do things for others, it often distracts us from our own thoughts and focuses positive energy onto another person. Does it make you feel good to receive a card in the mail? Go to your local store and buy a few Valentine's cards for people you love in your life: a grandparent or parent, a niece or nephew that misses you, a friend who also isn't celebrating Valentine's Day this year.
Even a funny email card can brighten someone's day and make you feel good too. Go to your local bakery and grab a few cupcakes for your single co-workers, friends and neighbors.
4. Call in the troops. Most of us have at least one single friend. Gather your group and have a night in, order food or make dinner, share laughs and enjoy their company. Try to stay away from the sappy romantic comedies or sad love stories; this time together is about celebrating your friendships. If you do want a night out, try to steer clear of the fancy, romantic restaurants and head to a comedy club, lounge or dance club so you can party with your pals.
5. Choose you. So many of us are so focused on being in a relationship that we forget how hard and stressful relationships can be. It's much easier to work on yourself when you're single than when you are worrying about someone else's needs.
By developing your individuality now, you will bring a stronger, more confident individual to your next relationship. Pride yourself on what you are doing now instead of dwelling on what you don't have. Let's face it, single people have more time for their friends and family, working out, hobbies, even their pets. Cherish this time you have to spend on you so when you do find your next partner, you'll be ready to share your life.
Readers -- How do you celebrate Valentine's Day: single or as part of a couple? Do you have high expectations, or do you treat it like any other day? What was your best/worst Valentine's Day experience? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Karen Stewart, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist practicing in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, California. She specializes in sexual dysfunction and couples and has appeared as an expert on numerous television shows and media outlets. Dr. Stewart is currently the co-host of Playboy Advisor on Monday evening on Playboyradio.com.