How To Deal With A Bad Valentine's Day, According To Experts
Valentine's Day can be fun when you're in the right mood. But there are a variety of reasons Valentine's Day can suck, as well. It's so easy to let your expectations get too high, for example, and feel let down or disappointed when the day doesn't turn out to be as meaningful as you had hoped.
Even tougher, though, can be the loneliness factor many people contend with. If you just went through a tough breakup, or have been trying to make a connection with someone to no avail, it can make for a pretty bad day — especially if you compare your relationship status to everyone else's.
"It can be even more stressful because others on social media are sharing their allegedly perfect gifts and experiences while you miss out," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle.
This is something many people experience on Valentine's Day. But the good news is, there are plenty of ways to cope. "Treating yourself [well] can make the day easier for two reasons," Bennett says. "First, finding enjoyment can take your mind off of the fact that Valentine’s Day is disappointing. Second, it can remind you that ultimately your worth comes from inside you, not from any external sources." With that in mind, here are a few coping tips to get you through Valentine's Day, if it isn't going well. And maybe even have a little fun, too.
1. Focus On Other Types Of Love
One way to cope with a feeling of loneliness on Valentine's Day is by focusing on the other relationships you have in life, and how much they mean to you.
"While Valentine’s Day is centered on romantic love, you can use it as a time to celebrate all of the other love in your life," Bennett says. "Buy gifts for your friends, call your mom and dad, give your dog a special treat, etc. Focus on celebrating the love you have rather than the love you don’t."
"If you know the day is going to be particularly rough for you, reach out and help [others]," Bennett says.
You never know who you might meet, or the lives you might impact by giving back. "Some ideas are a soup kitchen, a children’s charity, or pet shelter," Bennett says. These places will welcome you in with open arms, and help distract from what could be an otherwise lousy day.
3. Treat Yourself
Decide right now that you're going to treat yourself well on Valentine's Day. "[This] can be especially meaningful if it’s something you love, but you’ve put off doing for awhile," Bennett says.
Think along the lines of visiting your favorite museum, buying fresh flowers, having a spa evening, walking through the park — anything that feels special to you.
4. Avoid "Love Triggers"
Throughout the day, try to avoid any and all "love triggers" that might make you feel bad. For example, "avoid watching romantic movies and listening to love songs," Dr. Sanam Hafeez, NYC-based neuropsychologist, tells Bustle. These are things to save for another day, lest they bring on the "love blues," she says.
5. Savor The Solitude
While everyone else is crammed into stuffy restaurants, you can spend the day "savoring the solitude and valuing your own company," therapist Arlene B. Englander, LCSW, MBA, tells Bustle.
You can also use this time to figure out who you are and what you enjoy, possibly by trying a new hobby, reading a great book, or even thinking about what you want for the future.
6. Spend Time With Friends
To truly banish loneliness, make the day all about you and your friends. "Go out for brunch, take a road trip, or exchange gifts with your BFFs," Amica Graber, a relationship expert for TruthFinder, tells Bustle. "Practicing gratitude for the relationships you already have in your life is the perfect antidote for any feelings of sadness that may occur around Valentine’s Day."
7. Redefine The Day
"It is important to redefine what Valentine's 'must' be," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "It doesn’t have to be a day of romance between two people."
It can be a day all about you, or your friends. Or, if you want, it can simply be another day of the week. Whatever feels right.
8. If You Want, Make Plans To Get Back Out There
If you aren't enjoying your current relationship status, you may want to use the time around Valentine's Day to assess your life, and think about the qualities you'd like in a partner.
Then take a few steps in that direction, whether it means signing up for a dating app, taking a class, or making travel plans with friends as a way of meeting new people.
"Spend the evening putting some time back into your love life, and make a resolution to get back out there — even if it feels really hard at first," Graber says.
9. Get Creative
If you're in the mood, why not partake in a few traditional Valentine's Day activities, such as baking cookies, making chocolate covered strawberries, or crafting hand-made cards for friends? "[This] works because you’re creating something you enjoy by using your creativity," licensed psychotherapist Shirin Peykar, LMFT, tells Bustle. You can do it alone or with friends; just make sure you enjoy the process.
10. Ceremoniously Let Go Of The Past
If Valentine's Day makes you think about past relationships, it may be time to consciously let them go — possibly with the help of a few rituals.
"You and your friends can prepare a little fire to burn where you can release photos, writings, etc., of the old loves and pain, while creating something new in return," Audrey Hope, relationship and spiritual therapist, tells Bustle.
If fire's not your thing, try cutting up photos or deleting old texts, all in the name of letting go.
11. Validate Your Feelings
If you're upset, and can't turn the day around, that's totally OK, too. "It is important to give yourself permission to feel whatever comes up and validate that it makes perfect sense that you feel lonely, dejected, angry, left out, or anything else," Nicole Issa, PsyD, licensed psychologist, tells Bustle. Also, keep in mind you're definitely not the only who's having a tough day.
12. Avoid Social Media
"Limiting social media use may make it easier to get through the day," therapist Anna Poss, LCPC, tells Bustle. "If you are feeling sensitive about the holiday, it will be much harder on you to be constantly exposed to reminders about it." So put your phone away and try to focus on yourself and all the good things in your life, instead.
13. Lower Your Expectations
Even when you do have plans with a significant other, the day can still suck — especially if you have extra high expectations.
So try not to focus too much on what your partner does or doesn't do for you, and what it all might mean, Laura Albers, certified master wellness coach, tells Bustle.
"It’s simply one day in likely a long list of days you will spend together," she says. "The question is how do [they] typically treat you and use that to gauge the contentment in your relationship."
14. Adjust How You Think About Yourself
If you have negative thoughts running through your head during the Valentine's Day season — such as "I'm not good enough" or "I'll always be alone" — it may be time to switch things up.
15. Remember... It's Just One Day Of The Year
If all else fails, remember it'll all be over soon. "It is only one day out of 365 days and should not define you or your ability to love or be loved," author and psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, tells Bustle.
Of course, that may be easier said than done. But it won't hurt to tuck this thought in the back of your mind, should you start to feel lonely or bummed out.
Valentine's Day can be sucky for so many of us, but there are plenty of ways to deal with negative feelings. And if you want, you can even turn it into a day you to enjoy.