Yale Digital Commons/ Robert Indiana
Source: Yale Digital Commons/ Robert Indiana

Valentine’s Day seems to envelop us with hearts and flowers. It is a day that we anticipate with love, hope, stress, and mixed feelings.  Singles who do not have a special someone in their lives often begin to feel blue. However, it does not have to be that way. According to research by Dr. Shirley Matile Ogletree, “For women and more feminine individuals, Valentine's Day may represent a time to show appreciation to friends and family for whom one cares.” (Ogletree, 2013).

The key issue with Valentine’s Day is really a question: Love is in the air, but does this make you feel loved or lonely? How you celebrate Valentine’s Day depends entirely upon you.

For singles without a partner, you can enjoy the day by starting now. Instead of looking at Valentine’s Day with the same anxiety as “Will I have a date on New Year’s Eve?” embrace it.

Sharing the day with friends or just being alone

  • Buy yourself a red flower and float it in a bowl.
  • Invite your friends for a champagne, chocolate, and strawberries party on February 14th so you all have something special to look forward to.
  • Fill a dish with Italian Baci candy because each has a saying about kisses. Then be grateful for those with whom you shared kisses in the past.
  • Send an e-card to your best friends and envision them smiling.
  • Invite someone to join you so you can encourage each other to write those long overdue “thank you” notes, the ones that require a stamp.
  • Have an old-fashioned pajama and watch movies all night that will make you and your friends laugh until you cry.
  • Plan a Valentine’s Day cookie decorating party or create Valentine martinis.
  • Spend an hour on FaceTime or Skype talking to your favorite former college room mate.
  • Treat yourself to a bubble bath and a good book.
  • Forgive someone who has hurt you -- even if you don't tell them, simply write a forgiveness note and tuck it away until the day you are free of anger or hurt.
  • If you are thinking sadness — change the channel. Decide now to take the initiative to turn this Valentine’s Day into one of laughter, happiness, and smiles for yourself, for friends, for family, for lovers and even strangers.

Sharing Love as Couples

Couples will be pleased to hear that researchers tell us of the importance of Valentine’s Day.  It is a time for celebration and re-kindling of feelings. As noted in Personality and Individual Differences: 

“In Western cultures, the celebration of Valentine’s Day . . . might therefore remind couples of their initial love and affection, perhaps enhancing their perceptions of their relationship. In fact, relationship-enhancing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors have been shown to enhance perceptions of relationship functioning.”  (Chopik, Wardecker, and Edelstein, 2014).

  • Sit quietly for a few moments, and think of what you loved most about your partner when you fell in love.
  • Write out what you love best about your love today.
  • Now ask yourself, “How do we complement one another?” And as you come up with different thoughts, express gratitude.
  • For entire day think, talk, and act as if your love is the most caring, thoughtful person in the world.
  • Find beautiful stationary and write out those good feelings and thoughts and let that be your Valentine.  Those who have questioning relationship moments, expressing gratitude might help you fall madly in love once again.
  • Make a plaque with this quote from Dr. Leo Buscaglia: “What love we’ve given, we’ll have forever. What love we fail to give, will be lost for all eternity.”
  • With couples, whether your relationship is glorious or stressed, take a minute to be grateful. Research from gratitude scientist Dr. Robert Emmons, documents that gratitude is an attitude and not just a feeling. 

Share Love with Strangers

Why would you want to interact with a stranger on Valentine's Day? It will bring double blessings. Here are some thoughts that will keep you smiling and grateful for Valentine's Day.

  • Smile at people you pass on the street.  In a review paper published in Trends in Cognitive Science, Dr. Adrienne Wood and colleagues presented the scientific evidence that underscores what we intuitively believe “smiles generate smiles.” (Wood, 2016). 
  • Perform a random act of kindness for a neighbor.
  • Write a check to an organization that can use your money and in the lower left hand corner write "Happy Valentine's Day."
  • Make a commitment to volunteer for an organization that can use your support -- from shelters to nursing homes.
  • At the supermarket hand $20 to someone who looks as if they can use the money. Then simply say, "I think this is yours. Happy Valentine's Day."

As an incurable romantic, I have long wished to become the Valentine Fairy Godmother. With a  wave of my magic wand I imagined transforming the way we think about loving and forgiving -- ourselves and others in a challenging way — unconditionally. 

Copyright 2016 Rita Watson

Resources

Ogletree, S. M. (1993). “How do I love thee? Let me count the Valentines. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, Volume 21, (2), 129-134(6).

Chopik, W.J., Wardecker, B.M., Edelstein, R.S., (2014) Be Mine: Attachment avoidance predicts perceptions of relationship functioning on Valentine’s Day, Personality and Individual Differences (63) 47–52.

Wood, A., Rychlowska, M.,Korb, S., Niedenthal, P., (2016) Fashioning the Face: Sensorimotor Simulation Contributes to Facial Expression Recognition, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, On line Feb.11, 2016,  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2015.12.010 (Corrected proof in press)

Watson, R., (2012) Gratitude as an Attitude Sparks Love | Psychology Today

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