Insight Is 20/20

Exploring the pervasive, and unperceived, patterns that govern our lives

What to Do If You're Single for Valentine's Day: How to Cope

Valentine's Day should bring a significance that's personal, not commercial.

At some point, Valentine's Day became something like Black Friday: a day on which advertisers coerce people into spending lots of money. It's a day when coupled men and women feel pressured to do something big - make reservations at a fancy restaurant, splurge on boatloads of chocolates and flowers, and the list goes on. I find that couples often do it up in high style, but don't necessarily enjoy themselves more than they would on any other day that they show - and get - a little appreciation from the one they love.

And what about single men and women on Valentine's Day? If you're single, my hope is that you don't let this consumption-driven holiday get you down. That said, rising to an above-it-all attitude is difficult when every person you see the whole week before V-Day is bound to ask, "So what are you doing for Valentine's Day?"

If you're single and you are, like most human beings, susceptible to feeling a little down or lonely on a day when you're made to feel that everyone else in the world is in love except you, you've got to make your own Valentine's Day party. Grab a group of friends for happy hour at one of your favorite bars or restaurants, go on a mini-shopping spree where you treat yourself to something special, or book a massage or another procedure that makes you feel good and reminds you that you know how to take care of yourself.

I hate that Valentine's Day often makes single people feel bad or left out. True, finding a good relationship is one the best things that life has to offer, but there is more to life and the world around you than coupledom. After all, it's loneliness and feeling left out that drive so many people into relationships in the first place. And, if you rush it or you enter that relationship out of anxiety, odds are that it won't last.

In the end, remember that Valentine's Day is like any other day: it means what you decide it will mean. If you're single, make this day fun and soothing for you ... because you deserve it!

PLUS: In Dr. Seth's new book, Dr. Seth's Love Prescription (available at Amazon.com or your nearest Borders or Barnes and Noble), he shows you how to stop repeating bad patterns in your romantic relationships. If you or someone you know keeps going for the wrong types of people and seems stuck in this vicious cycle, pick up a copy of Dr. Seth's Love Prescription today.

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Seth Meyers, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health.

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