Valentine’s Day is fine for happy, committed couples. A little kitschy, with the overemphasis on superficial fluff. But Valentine’s Day can be miserable if you’re single or in a dissolving relationship. How do you celebrate (or just survive) a day devoted to romantic love when you’re not in a romance? The Washington Post suggests we just skip Valentine’s Day schmaltz or at least dial down the hype. Here are other suggestions for singles to survive Valentine’s Day.
Look to the higher purpose. Valentine’s Day is a purely commercial enterprise. Developed nations, excel at perverting holidays for economic gain. A Madison Avenue Valentine’s Day has zero to do with the real St. Valentine, a Roman physician who sent notes of encouragement to contraband Christians hiding in the catacombs. As Valentinius was martyred, the priest wears red on the saint’s feast day. The color red is the only link (and a tenuous one best) to Valentine’s Day as we celebrate it. Why not return Valentine’s Day to its real intent? Start a tradition of sending letters (or emails) of inspiration to those in need–the elderly, ill, disabled, shut-in, lonely or imprisoned. Those are genuine love letters.
Remember, you really are above it all. Candy, hearts, flowers, teddy bears, sexy lingerie, even diamonds–have not one iota to do Valentine’s Day, let alone with building a solid relationship (despite advertisers’ attempts to persuade otherwise). You are so much more than all those. Your worth cannot be measured in tchotchkis. Tell yourself that.
Concentrate on relationship-building. Does Valentine’s Day find you in a new or wobbly relationship? Did you or your significant other forgot the presents? Don’t worry. Maybe even be happy. It’s easy (and cheap) to grab a box of chocolate or a dozen roses? It’s harder to practice the more difficult acts of relationship-building: active listening, communicating in love, biting off unkind words, forgiving. Candy and flowers can’t replace those better gifts. If you’re in a good relationship and you’ve quarreled, skip the Valentine gifts. Spend the day enjoying each other and mending fences. If you’re not in a relationship but want to be, reach out to someone. Try forming a friendship first and see what happens.
Avoid painful associations. Maybe you’ve never been in a relationship and feel left out. Maybe you just changed your relationship status to “single.” Maybe you’re in a crumbling relationship. Valentine’s Day, despite its tawdry shallowness, will probably be painful. Stay away from hurtful reminders. Turn off the TV and computer. Don’t go where intimate couples will be. In fact, avoid shopping altogether.
Focus on healthy things. Read a stimulating book. Avoid candy (sugar only makes depression worse). Eat healthy food. Nourish your soul. Spend time in prayer or contemplation. Do yoga. Visit a museum. Adopt a pet. Treat yourself to massage. Take a walk. Reconnect with nature.
Finally, mark Max Ehrmann’s verse in “Desiderata.” “Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence…Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”