Maybe It's Just Me, But...

Musings of a mildly mad multi-disciplinarian

Single on Valentine's Day? Don't Dwell on It

Love doesn't know it's February 14—you shouldn't care either.

While not all people in relationships enjoy Valentine's Day, I think it's safe to say—if not blatantly obvious—that, on the average, single people resent it more than anybody. It's all too easy to feel that you've failed in some way because you don't have a partner for the ball on this one day a year that it's expected that you will.

The real danger of being alone on Valentine's Day, surrounded by the sights and sounds of romance and love, is dwelling on the fact that you're not part of it. You start questioning why you don't have anyone, or why you lost the person you recently had. Perhaps you remember Valentine's Days past, when you exchanged cards, flowers, and choclates, enjoyed the candlelight dinner, rode the horse-drawn carriage through the city or paddled a canoe across the pond. And maybe you think of the Valentine's Days you never had, the crushes you never talked to, the dates that didn't work out.

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On Valentine's Day, it seems that if you're not winning you're losing. "Success" means having a sweetheart, and not having one means "failure." But why is being single any "worse" on February 14 than it is on February 13 or 15? The point of love and romance is to fulfill you, to make you happy, not to let you check off a box on the calendar. Being single on Valentine's Day doesn't mean you've "failed" at love any more than being single any other time of the year does.

If you're single on Valentine's Day, the important thing is to be careful not to fall into patterns of rumination, doubting your ability to love and fearing that you'll never find someone special. Rather than dwell on being single, try to treat yourself, spend time with friends and family, do things you'd do any other day of the year. Remember that February 14 is one day out of the year just like any other, a day to further your goals and live your life, no matter what anyone else is doing. It may sound cliche, but it's only a big deal if you let it be a big deal.

But if you just can't get your mind off of it—believe me, I have a hard doing that myself—then try to make your thoughts constructive. If you're upset that you haven't got somebody, then use this occasion to reassess how you go about finding love. Maybe you will decide to go to new places to meet people. Perhaps you should make a promise to yourself to approach more people, and be more open to being approached by others. Maybe you'll decide to get a new haircut, buy a new outfit, whatever makes you feel more desirable and confident. The point is, if you're tired of being alone, then don't dwell on it—determine how you can change it.

Romance and love are worth pursuing any day of the year, and if you don't have it on Valentine's Day, so what—it's just a day. But you can use the occasion to renew your commitment to finding and being open to love whatever day it comes to you.

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See here for a list of some of my previous Psychology Today posts organized by topics, .

You can follow me on Twitter and also at the following blogs: Economics and Ethics, The Comics Professor, and my homepage/blog.

Mark D. White is the chair of the Department of Philosophy at the College of Staten Island/CUNY.

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