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How to do Valentine’s Day if you’re single

How do you get through it if you’re not happily in love?

Valentine’s Day isn’t huge fun for everyone. It’s one of those days where the celebrants are happy, but for many it can be a time of sadness. So how to deal with Valentine’s Day if you’re single, or unhappy?

For those who are single, and don’t want to be, or heartbroken, or lonely, it can be reminder of how happy everyone else seems to be. The same goes for those who are widowed, or divorced, or in relationships that aren’t working.

But there are ways to make the most of the day, just by doing things a bit differently. Dr Sarah Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University, offers some advice for people who may struggle being alone at this time of year.

Read more: Single and happy about it!

Reframe the day

“Reframe Valentine’s Day from being a day about romantic love to a day to celebrate family and friendships. This may help those who are widowed or divorced. For the divorced and widowed, such celebrations could include getting together with family or friends who are in the same position or are single.

“Additionally, for those who are widowed, Valentine’s Day can become a day of remembrance. And an opportunity to reminisce on the love shared. This could be a time with family – make a date with any children or have a family dinner. Alternatively, simple things such as planting a tree in their memory, watching their favourite film, or going to a favourite place can bring back happy memories.”

Remember real life is not a media story

Dr Taylor highlights how the presence of media and advertising can intensify the feelings of being left out.

“The media hype in the run up to Valentine’s Day can become quite stressful for single people. It often portrays unrealistic expectations of love and romance. Although we should not need a specific day to prove how much we love and care for that special someone, the media tries to tell us otherwise. In so doing, it ostracises those who are single.


‘Valentine’s Day blues’ can make a single person feel both depressed and anxious


“Being constantly bombarded with reminders of romantic love can exacerbate feelings of loneliness, sadness, rumination and even inadequacy as we compare ourselves to others in relationships.

“Negative thoughts and emotions creep in. The ‘Valentine’s Day blues’ can make a single person feel both depressed and anxious. These feelings can last for several weeks, particularly for women. Also for those in their 30s who may feel societal pressures to get married and have children.”

Make plans

“So how can singles avoid the Valentine’s Day blues? Well, the key is to plan. Plan to stay active and busy. Plan to do something nice for yourself and plan to avoid exposure to dating environments – in real life and online. Why not show love for yourself and buy yourself a gift? Such an act of self-expression can be empowering. Alternatively, connecting with others including family and friends can be both distracting and fun.”

Planning for retirement - Pension Buddy and The Tonic

It’s ok to be single

“Another idea is to plan time to self-reflect. Think about what it is you are looking for in a romantic relationship, and what you could do to get what you want. Look at the bigger picture and reflect on where you want to be in a few years’ time, and how you could achieve that goal.

“Ultimately, while romantic relationships can be fulfilling, your life does not need to be defined by your relationship status. Valentine’s Day can be the perfect opportunity for singles to stop, take stock and engage in deliberate self-acknowledgement and acceptance. It’s ok to be single.”

Dr Sarah Taylor is a cyberpsychologist at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Her interests are broadly based on understanding how we are persuaded by information presented online. She has also researched projects focused on online dating.

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Jan Lessings

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