No shame in being alone on Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day is one of the busiest days of the year for florists.
(The Associated Press)
Story by Barton Goldsmith
(Scripps Howard News Service)
Fri, Feb 10, 2012
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Some think Valentine’s Day should be a national holiday. Others would like to see it banned from the calendar. Still others, who are alone, would rather ignore the whole thing. But that’s almost impossible to do. You can’t even go into a pet store without seeing something with Cupid on it. Wherever you are in life, Feb. 14 conjures up all kinds of feelings.

Being alone or single on Valentine’s Day is not a condemnation of your worth as a person or a reflection of your desirability — the timing just isn’t good this year. If you have made the choice to be single, you may have developed your own set of coping skills. Whether by choice or by circumstance, however, if you find yourself without a date on 2/14, you will need to create ways to make it a good day for yourself.

We all make choices every day. By making the decision that you are going to, at the very least, be content on Valentine’s Day, you have just relieved yourself of a great burden. You don’t have to look for ways or reasons to feel bad. And yes, it is a choice.

There are many articles and blogs on how to cope, yet coping may not be easy. For instance, you really can’t ignore it when your friends are going to a party that you weren’t invited to. That being the case, many people make up their own celebrations rather than try to ignore St. Valentine.

Women do seem to be better at this than men. If there’s a game on television, the guys will make it through the evening, but women generally know how to have more fun. Some women I know go out as a group and whoop it up around town, going to dinner and enjoying the festivities. Others have suggested scavenger hunts or girls-only parties. There are endless activities. The trick here is to engage in one.

If being alone is your only option, you can make it better for yourself by planning some entertainment. Doing something that you wouldn’t typically do with a partner, such as go-cart racing or scrapbooking, will allow you to relax and help you feel that you are not the only one going through this. Valentine’s Day may also inspire you to take that scary step of going online or getting introduced to that cousin of a friend.

There is no shame in being alone on Valentine’s or any other day. Sometimes it’s a choice, and sometimes it’s not. But being alone is a part of most people’s lives, and allowing yourself to feel beaten down because you can’t participate in “national couples’ day” is unnecessary.

Take the parts of the holiday that you like and enjoy them — then let the rest of it go. Knowing that you would rather be with the right person than a placeholder will help you make sense of your relationship status.

Remember that false love is more painful than no love. And don’t settle for less than you deserve.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author, most recently, of “100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence — Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too.”

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