Valentine’s Day. It can either be a day of great joy or a major bummer….or somewhere in between. Wherever you’re at on the spectrum, it’s okay, you are okay, and you will be okay. Some consider it a made-up holiday for retailers to sell products. But it has actually been around since the middle ages, although the exact origin story is surrounded with a mystery. This makes sense because V-day can be a little mysterious.
Whether you are newly separated or long divorced, facing V-day can stir all kinds of emotions. It may feel unfair or frustrating, happy, sad. Some people feel crippling nostalgia as they remember all the good times with their ex. Suddenly couples you never noticed seem to appear everywhere, like a scene from a movie, and you feel like you’re on “divorced island.”
Ultimately, your life is not one day. This is a day set aside to celebrate people we love, and you can make it whatever you want it to be. Since I had children, I included them as part of my Valentine list. This goes back to elementary school when we would buy the little superhero or princess valentine cards and show up at school with 30 little cards with individual names on them. Everyone in the class got a Valentine card, including the kid that spit on my face on the playground. Yep, even him.
As we grow older, we begin to pare down our Valentine list until we get to that special someone. All the energy we once gave to many, we now bestow on one. But what happens when that one is gone?
1. Remember (and repeat to yourself) that Valentine’s Day is only one day. Don’t let yourself start down the spiral of how your life sucks, and you’ll never be happy again. I understand that having a mate can bring significant joy and fulfillment. I also understand that having a mate can bring a lot of pain and misery. Most people who end up in the divorce process have experienced both.
What makes this holiday so darn hard is that at one point, you were on the joy and fulfillment end of the spectrum, and now you’re on the pain and misery end. That slide is a harsh one. Our mind wants to float back to previous Valentine’s days and remember how in love we were. But remember that we can’t have the good without the bad. So let’s not forget that even V-day, too, shall pass.
2. You get to create the experience you want. On my first single Valentine’s day, I made plans with a girlfriend. We dressed up and went out to a yummy dinner and then on to dancing. We had a great time and didn’t even care that we didn’t have a romantic date, and truthfully, I would say that our “ValenFriend” Day date ranked up there pretty high and even surpassed in comparison to some of the previous Valentine’s Days. Do you have a friend or several you can create an event with?
If all of your friends are spending the day with their significant other, check out MeetUp.com for a Valentine’s day alternative date. There are groups all over the country creating virtual events where you can bring your own dinner and drink and share in conversation. What a great idea! You’re shy, you say? So are most people. So put yourself out there. You can either be shy in a group or be alone.
3. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your children. Make a fun dinner with your kids by choosing all red foods: red meat, beets, red potatoes, red velvet cake, cranberry sparkling cider, ha! You get the point. Pick a game or movie you can watch together as a family. Make your gift time and not stuff. That’s what most kids truly want anyway: undivided time from mom or dad.
4. How about a solo date? You know I love these. Learning to go solo is a fantastic gift you can give yourself. After all, you are your own best friend. Dinner and a movie? You might be thinking, “What if people look at me weird?” First of all, who cares? You don’t even know these people, so what do their opinions matter? Second, it’s so much more common these days for people to go out on their own to have a meal. And the funny thing about movies is they are truly an event you can do alone. It’s not like you’re having a conversation, but I know many people feel weird about this. I did too at first, but after doing it a few times, it made sense as one of the easiest things to do on my own.
5. Avoid social media if seeing other couples posting extravagant Valentine’s plans and undying love for each other will upset you or send you spiraling. While it makes me happy to see two people celebrating each other, I know that what you see on social media is often not the whole picture. Those same couples get annoyed with each other, have had rough times, and sometimes lose their patience with one another. But of course, they don’t post that on social media.
I would love to hear from you about V-day ideas you have tried as a solo person so I can share them and possibly give someone else motivation to love on themselves! Write me at email@example.com.