There are about 128 million single people in the U.S., which means that more than half of the population will be ringing in Valentine's Day this year solo, according to the U.S. Census. As such, there are about 128 million articles about how to celebrate the infamous holiday without experiencing too much heartache, full of practical Valentine's Day ideas for singles. So what really is a single woman to do on Valentine's Day, other than celebrating Galentine's Day first and foremost? "Get together with friends or family, or go skiing, or join a theater production," Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences , tells Bustle. She's full of smart advice, and stresses that whatever you decide to do, it's best to do something.
"Valentine's Day gets a lot of media attention, and it can be hard to avoid," Tessina says. "When you don't have a special someone to spend it with, or, worse yet, you've just lost a relationship, it can be brutal." But it doesn't have to be. Simple self-care tools, along with developing a super fun plan, can bump the holiday from depressing to delightful. Though we all take stock of what our friends are up to on holidays — Exhibit A, New Year's Eve — it's best to just let this day unfold, and not ask around in regard to everyone's plans. "Don't focus on what everyone else might be doing," Tessina says. "If you're alone, it's important to take good care of yourself. (You're not really alone, anyway — you're joined by 128 million other singles.) Here are some ways to do just that.
1. Rally The Girl Squad
Taylor Swift may be the girl squad queen, but she certainly doesn't have a copyright on girl gangs. Round up your favorite women and celebrate the day among friends. "Gather your best friends around you and make some special plans to have a wonderful day," says Tessina. Make a day of it, and totally treat yo' self. There is nothing more satisfying than spending hard-earned money on yourself, so be sure to do whatever your heart most desires. A spa day, a day on the mountain, a day of deep chilling — follow your heart by doing whatever you feel like doing. (And celebrate Galentine's Day, February 13, too.)
2. Use V-Day As An Excuse To Connect
Drag out your best stationary and pens, or make sweet homemade valentines for your favorite people. "Send Valentines or personal notes to everyone who means a lot to you," Tessina suggests. Challenge yourself to take a few hours on Valentine's Day and reach out to your family and friends with personalized missives of love. Who needs one valentine when you can have 10?
Instead of moping around, arrange to spend the day on February 14 at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, children's facility or other charitable organization — and forgo Valentine's Day altogether, in favor of "Volunteer Day." Says Tessina, "Create and celebrate Volunteer Day, and use your energy and resources on behalf of people who need your help." It'll take your mind off any undue mawkishness, and you'll walk away with a boost of self-esteem. Tessina's philanthropic picks? "Volunteer to tutor students, help at a homeless shelter or visit wounded veterans in the hospital."
4. Nurture Your Soul
Rather than focusing on the exterior this V-Day, go inward. "Make your Valentine's Day a spiritual growth time, attending a ritual, workshop or gathering with close friends, instead of being out with the crowds," suggests Tessina. "If you are clear about what will make the day special for you, and focus on that instead of what's not happening, you'll feel better about yourself and you won't have any reason to pity yourself."
5. Make A Plan In Advance
Whatever you choose to do, be sure that it's not an off-the-cuff decision. "Having a plan that makes you happy is the best way to fend off the blues," Tessina says. Find some similarly minded ladies and hatch a plan pre–V-Day, and give some thought to how best to celebrate the day for yourself. "Think about Valentine's Day in advance — ask friends to join you, or find an activity that is meaningful to you," says Tessina.
6. Don't Be Caught Unaware
As tempting as it may seem to just ignore Valentine's Day altogether, that probably isn't the solution either. "Don't allow the occasion to sneak up on you," Tessina says. Plan ahead — even if the plan is just to spend the day with an old pal.
7. Put Your Back Into It
And by back, I mean meaning. "Think about what will create the most meaningful experience for you," says Tessina. Though Valentine's Day doesn't have to be infused with deep meaning, it does exist, so you might as well harness it and use it for good.
8. Shake Things Up
"Consider doing something different than usual — this is a great time to try something new," says Tessina. If you've never climbed to the top of a nearby mountain, sampled the fare of a top restaurant or had a hot stone massage, now is the time to give it a shot.
9. Be Among Friends
Whatever you do, don't hole up by yourself binge-watching. "Don't isolate — unless you do it as a meditative experience," says Tessina. Even if it sounds like a good idea in theory, in practice you'll just be alone on Valentine's Day. No to that.
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