How To Deal With Missing Your Ex On Valentine's Day
Since you're used to celebrating the holiday as a couple, it only makes sense that you might end up missing your ex on Valentine's Day. With love and romance in your face — and on your Instagram feed — all day long, you could easily spend the day thinking about the past, wondering what your ex is up to, or even wishing you could get back together.
"It is common for some people to miss an ex on Valentine's Day, particularly when the end of the relationship was not their decision," Dr. Julie Gurner, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. It can be painful, and you might be tempted to look them up on social media, reach out, and wonder if there's anything you can do to remedy the situation.
The sense of loneliness can be strong, but doesn't mean you need to make any rash decisions. There are plenty of ways to manage tough emotions and get through Valentine's Day without feeling too bad, and that includes using this time to take good care of yourself and reach out to others for support. Read on for nine ways to cope with missing your ex on Valentine's Day, according to experts.
1. Remind Yourself Why It Ended
If you find yourself getting upset, as a memory reel plays in your head, stop yourself right there and focus on why it didn't work out, instead.
"It's common to romanticize a former relationship or gloss over the struggles you had when you've had some distance," Gurner says. But viewing things through rose-tinted glasses will only make the breakup seem more painful.
While it's OK to reminisce, be aware of this tendency and refocus your thoughts. Just because it's a romantic time of year, it doesn't mean you need to get back with your ex.
2. Create A Support Group Of Friends
In the lead up to Valentine's Day, start reaching out to friends who can help guide you through the day, just in case you end up feeling stressed out or upset.
"Spending time with others who are fun and supportive can recenter your mindset to the positive, and even keep you from making poor decisions in your vulnerability, like reaching out to an ex that wasn't good for you," Gurner says.
When surrounded by caring friends, you'll be far less likely to spend the day wallowing in negativity — or sending ill-advised texts — and you may even end up having a good time.
3. Rethink The Day
A surprisingly helpful tactic for getting through Valentine's Day? Reminding yourself that it's only about cards and chocolate, and never about your worth.
"Being single on Valentine’s Day says nothing about you and is not a negative reflection on who you are as a person," Genesis Games, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor and Gottman-trained couples therapist, tells Bustle. "It’s just another day on the calendar that happens to be super commercialized."
While it may sound jaded at first, this viewpoint can provide some relief. You don't have to overthink the day, or even celebrate it, if you don't want to. Simply go to work, see some friends, and wait for February 15.
4. Reflect On How You Feel
Use Valentine's Day as a time to think about how far you've come since your relationship ended, as well as what you might need to do next.
Games suggests reflecting on your single life: "Are you working on healing? Are you trying to become a better version of yourself? Are you focusing on personal growth?"
Should you find that you're hung up on the past, or having a hard time moving on, let that inspire your next moves. It may be time to talk to friends about how you've been feeling, make a big change, or even go to therapy.
5. Sign Up For Therapy
Whether you just need help getting through Valentine's Day, or have realized you're struggling to move on after a relationship, therapy can be a big help.
"Give yourself the gift of healing and growth," Games says. "[Processing] the thoughts and emotions that come up during Valentine’s with a professional [...] can help guide you through heartbreak."
Therapy can be beneficial when it comes to getting everything off your chest, managing your emotions, and learning new ways to look at the situation.
6. Stay Off Social Media
Of course, the last thing you'll want to do, if you're missing your ex on Valentine's Day, is hop onto social media in search of old photos of you two as a couple or looking into what their life is like today.
"The temptation might be extra strong during this time of year, but don’t allow yourself to fall victim to it," Games says. "Nothing that you discover will make you feel better.
So take a break from your phone. Spend the week keeping busy, hanging out with friends, and focusing on yourself.
7. Spend The Day Focusing On Yourself
When in doubt, you can always use Valentine's Day as a day to focus on yourself, Dr. Christopher Ryan Jones, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist, tells Bustle. "Many times when people go through a breakup they are very hard on themselves," he says. "They begin to have negative thoughts and false cognitions concerning their self-worth and it really hampers their self-esteem and their outlook on life."
Spending the day focusing on yourself, and all the things you like to do, can be a great way to refocus your healing process — and maybe even enjoy yourself. "Have a night for yourself," Jones says. "Enjoy your favorite meal. Do something you’ve been putting off for a while. Maybe take a trip." Or whatever else feels right.
8. Go To A Meet Up
It's fine if you aren't ready to date, or if you need more time to process your breakup. But if you're at the stage where you're thinking about getting back out there, why not do so on Valentine's Day?
"There are sometimes events that are organized just for singles on Valentine’s Day," Jones says. "Go to one! If you don’t feel comfortable going alone, take one of your single friends with you. And don’t feel pressured to fall in love or find 'the one' just because it's Valentine’s Day. Go simply to have a good time and meet new people."
If nothing else, it'll be a fun and distracting night out. And when you're feeling down, that's often the best thing you can do.
9. Remember, It's OK To Feel Sad
All of that said, if this is your first Valentine's Day without your partner, it's only natural to feel sad. And if you need to sit with that and allow the emotions to flow, go right ahead.
"Use this opportunity to feel the sadness and understand why you are still in pain (is there still unfinished business with your ex, did you not get closure, etc.)," LaQuista Erinna, DBH, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker with a doctorate in behavioral health, tells Bustle. "Work through the emotions and figure out your next steps."
Valentine's Day can be tough, especially when you miss your ex. So make sure you do exactly what you need to do, whether that means processing your emotions, seeing friends, making fun plans, or all of the above.
Dr. Julie Gurner, clinical psychologist
Genesis Games, LMHC, licensed mental health counselor and Gottman-trained couples therapist
Dr. Christopher Ryan Jones, PsyD, clinical psychologist and sex therapist
LaQuista Erinna, DBH, LCSW, licensed clinical social worker with a doctorate in behavioral health