Valentine’s Day is approaching (as if you could have missed it) and, seemingly overnight, shops are strewn in red and pink, and heart-shaped goods crowd the shelves. What’s more, social media is suddenly crammed full of couples jetting off on romantic trips or toasting over candlelit dinners alongside the hashtag #ILoveHim.
All holidays are really tough in your first year after a breakup or divorce, and Valentine’s Day is especially difficult for many new singles. It is a day that highlights how alone you really are, which creates sadness, disappointment, and emptiness. Painful memories flood your mind, the feeling of loss is overwhelming, and you worry about being alone forever. The holiday squarely focuses on couples and reminds you of your newly single status.
And you feel like Scrooge.
While Valentine’s Day (Saint Valentine’s Day) was originally a liturgical celebration and a feast day, it slowly emerged into a day where lovers express their love through gifts. Today, I see it as a "Hallmark Holiday" that is completely commercialized and focused on couples. And those who do not have Valentines are in the spotlight, feeling sad, lonely and depressed.
Why? Because people choose to focus on their failed relationship or marriage instead of seeing the day as a day to invest in different kinds of love. Romantic love is not the only type of love you can choose to celebrate this Valentine’s Day. Consider self-love, as that is the relationship that affects all others in your life. I know it is tough, so here are some tips to try to make February bearable, at best, and fun (yes, FUN!) at most.
Here are some DO’s on this Valentine’s Day:
- Treat yourself to chocolate, flowers, cupcakes and/or a card. Remember, it has become a commercialized day, so why not buy yourself the things you can afford to buy for someone else?
- Do something you enjoy—go to a movie, take a hike, go on a walk with your dog, try a new recipe, or take yourself out to dinner.
- Make a list of all of the loving people you have in your life and write them a Valentine’s Day message—email or text it to them.
- Invite a single friend over for movie night—and eat popcorn and drink champagne.
- Binge watch that series you’ve been dying to see.
- Finally, remind yourself you are not the only single person out there in the world.
Here are some DON’Ts during Valentine’s Day:
- Do NOT contact your ex-spouse. No good will come from this because you are using your sadness as an excuse.
- Do NOT go on social media. The likelihood of you becoming triggered by your feed—filled with proposals, romantic photos or love letters—is high.
- Do NOT rush into a relationship or ask the person you are dating to be exclusive just so you are not alone. Society puts a lot of pressure on you having a mate, but it is not mandatory.
- Do NOT have a pity party. It is completely okay to be sad, but do not let yourself sink into misery.
- Do NOT get drunk—it will only make you feel worse in the morning, and you will regret it.
- Do NOT give up hope. Just because you feel that you will never love or be loved does not mean it is true. Don’t give up on love—you are deserving of receiving and giving it.
Valentine’s Day after a divorce or breakup does not have to be miserable. You know that life goes on, and each year it gets a little easier—and the day of love only lasts 24 hours. You can, and should, spend it doing whatever makes YOU happy. Whatever you decide to do, or not do, treat yourself with love—not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day!