Most of us associate Valentine’s Day with romantic love, often making February 14th a difficult day for those who are unpartnered. Unfortunately, for some the holiday is a reminder of past hurts, grief, and rejection. It’s time to focus on the present and take a new perspective on Valentine’s Day.
Here are some tips for celebrating Valentine’s Day, embracing the love that is all around us, and sharing the love that we have to give:
1. Use this as a day to show appreciation and love to friends and family. Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be restricted to romantic love. Make February 14th a day to celebrate the people in your life who matter to you. You might express your feelings by writing a card, making a telephone call or giving a meaningful gift.
2. Engage in random acts of kindness and expressions of love. Reach out to people who you might see with regularity but don’t know personally—the doorman or janitor at your office building, your coffee barista, the homeless person who sleeps on your block, the bus driver, the staff at your gym or anyone whose very presence makes your day a little brighter or makes you appreciate what you have. Carry around individually wrapped chocolates to hand to these people throughout the day or make little cards that have an inspirational message (e.g. “you are loved”) that you want to share.
3. Make a plan to celebrate with friends. If this day is particularly painful for you then plan to do something with a friend. You might want to go to an exercise class, go on a walk or hike, make dinner together, see a movie or any other activity that you both enjoy.
4. Volunteer. Getting outside of yourself and sharing yourself with others who are less fortunate makes everyone feel better. Serve a meal at a soup kitchen, visit residents at an assisted living facility, go to an animal shelter and share affection with the cats and dogs who don’t have homes. You will be connecting with others in a meaningful way.
5. Show love toward yourself. This might mean indulging in a massage, a facial or a manicure/pedicure. Or, if cost is an issue you can give yourself a DIY facial mask and a bubble bath. Pick something that fits your budget and makes you feel good.
Valentine’s Day is a day marked by hearts, flower, and chocolate, but it doesn’t need to be a day that is exclusively for romantic love. Don’t focus on what’s missing—a romantic partner—focus on what you have. Bring gratitude and appreciation to this day of love. And, most importantly, show yourself some extra love!
Michelle Skeen, PsyD is a therapist and the author of LOVE ME, DON’T LEAVE ME: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment & Building Lasting, Loving Relationships (New Harbinger, 2014). For more information, go to www.lovemedontleaveme.com.