Valentine’s Day is one of the most despised holidays you can imagine… particularly when you’re single. It’s already a fake holiday – the “Saint Valentine was martyred in Rome for secretly marrying slaves and Christians” story is as fake as Kanye West’s insistence that he’s not into butt stuff. Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday that was originally designed to boost sales of lace and smutty poetry in the 19th century, which in turn has led to an annual tradition of paying far too much money for a night out, dead foliage and shitty chocolate.
But when you’re single? Valentine’s Day is the day when the world is determined to rub your face in the fact that you’re alone. Ads every five seconds demanding that you prove your love by buying expensive crap you can’t afford and happy couples everywhere. Meanwhile you’re at home with a microwave pizza and the existential despair of an empty mailbox..
So how do you get through Valentine’s Day without quietly losing your mind? Glad you asked, convenient rhetorical device, here’s how.
Look, I get it. Being single on a day that celebrates conspicuous consumption disguised as romantic love1 makes you feel like you’re especially defective. You want that intimacy, the casual closeness, the sex, even the validation that comes with having someone to love and someone who loves you back. Being lonely is a painful feeling and it gnaws at your gut like a hamster with an eating disorder. It’s understandable that you’re going to want to grumble and vent.
But all that complaining does is a) annoy other people and b) make things worse for yourself. One of the things that happens when you complain over and over again – even when people are kind enough to listen to you the first couple times – is you reinforce the problem. You’re basically causing your brain to the aggravation over and over again like some unholy version of Groundhog’s Day starring John Cryer instead of Bill Murray.
When you complain – especially when you’re doing it over and over again – then all that happens is that you’re reinforcing the idea of your own helplessness and making yourself more miserable in the process. You’re taking your ability to improve your situation – your locus of control – and tossing it out the window. Maintaining a negative attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy; you expect a negative result and you get one because those constant reminders of your misery mean you are perpetually looking for the way you’re going to get screwed (and not in the happy fun sticky way). It saps your emotional resiliency, your ability to roll with any hurdles or setbacks you encounter.
And like I said: it gets really tedious for the people around you too. Nobody’s going to be interested in helping you solve your dating woes (or even listening) when you’re always reminding them that you’re bitter and resentful.
I’m just saying: there’s a reason why Eeyore isn’t a sex-symbol.
So do yourself a favor: this Valentine’s Day, get off social media for 24 hours. Closing Facebook and Twitter means not only will you be cutting down on places to vent but you won’t be getting hit with quite as many VD reminders.
That leads us to the next part. While I totally empathize with how you’re feeling – I spent most Valentine’s Days over my lifetime alone and pissed about it – complaining gets you nowhere. You have to do something about it. So instead of complaining, you need to do a little self-care and get yourself in a better head-space.
So to start with:
Get Your Shit Together
When people talk about self-care, they tend to talk about things like putting on your pajamas and watching your favorite movie. Which definitely has its place and all, but a big part of taking care of yourself isn’t emotional masturbation, it’s getting your shit together so you quit feeling like ten pounds of ass in a five pound sack. Building a pillow fort is nice, but the dishes in your sink are growing intelligent life forms and the cockroaches have moved out to find more upscale housing. It shouldn’t surprise you that the state of your life tends to reflect your state of mind. Fix one and you put yourself on the road to fixing the other.
So this Valentine’s Day, instead of moaning and complaining, you’re going to put the time and energy you normally use to grouse about being single into being productive. One of the first things I’d suggest is working around your home. When your place is a disorganized mess, it actually fucks with your brain, soaking you in a constant stew of stress hormones and leaving you tense and uncomfortable. Taking the time to organize and deep-clean your pad can do wonders for making you feel like a human again. It can even be a surprisingly relaxing form of moving meditation, as so much of it is mindless, repetitive motion. Plus: it makes sure when you do have dates that your apartment isn’t where sex goes to die.
If your home’s already in pretty good shape, then look towards other aspects of your life. You almost certainly have something going on that you’ve been avoiding and it’s been causing no small amount of stress… even if it’s been so frequent that you’ll only notice it by its absence. Maybe it’s about time to go full Marie Kondo on your closet and possessions and doing some serious decluttering. Maybe you have some project sitting around that you’ve been putting off time and time again that needs to get done. Maybe it’s a series of hard phone calls you need to make or emails you need to send. Maybe it’s taking that first step towards a career change or a passion project of yours. Maybe it’s filing the paperwork for some major upcoming change.
In the end, it ultimately doesn’t matter what the task is, just so long as it’s something significant that a) needs to be done and b) improves your life in some material way. The point is that instead of just sitting around feeling sorry for yourself, you’re taking concrete steps to lighten your emotional load by doing the work. It may not be quite as entertaining or relaxing as wrapping yourself in a blanket and reading a shitload of comics, but getting your shit together means you’ve put yourself in a better place over all. You come out the other end feeling like you’ve made some serious accomplishments and it won’t be hanging over your head any more. That’s a pretty damn good feeling to have on a day that makes you feel like the last lonely Morlock in a world full of entirely-too-fucking-happy Eloi.
Now, having done all that…
Now is the time that you give yourself a break and do something kind for yourself. This is the lime kiss that cuts the harshness of the tequila shot that came before.
Getting your shit together – in whatever form that might take – was the harsh but necessary part of the day. But as rewarding as that may be to your soul to have been a productive little mammal, you’re still feeling down.
That’s why you want to do something that makes you feel good and just indulge yourself a little. Now that you’ve treated your mind and soul – even if you didn’t realize that’s what you were doing until afterwards – then it’s time to soothe the body too. So give yourself a present… something that makes you feel better on a material, physical level. It might be getting a massage and letting some kind soul pound the tension and frustration out of your muscles. It might be going in and getting a gentleman’s facial because hey: clear skin is great and sometimes a dude likes to feel pretty. It may be taking a long hot soak in the tub and letting yourself calm down and de-stress. You might go and have some comfort food – a cup of salted caramel hot chocolate, an especially good cupcake, something that you normally don’t allow yourself.
What you do to treat yourself on Valentine’s Day is up to you, but I’d recommend focusing on the body in some form or another – and preferably something that you don’t normally allow yourself to have. You don’t just want to do things to distract yourself – like gaming, for example – but do something that brings you feelings of comfort or a general sense of well-being. That little gift you give yourself that makes you feel like God is in his heaven and all is right with the world, can be as big of a balm to the soul as you might want.
Of course, sometimes you might want to take a slightly more proactive approach to feeling alone on Valentine’s Day, and that’s why you should…
Find The Other Singles
Like I said: I get it. This is a holiday designed to make you feel like the loneliest bastard on the planet.
I promise you: you’re not. There are many, many people sitting around on Valentine’s Day, feeling exactly the same way you do. You’re just not seeing them because you’re focusing on those annoyingly happy couples who seem to be fucking everywhere, clogging up your Facebook timelines with talk of what their sweet baboo did for them this year, Instagramming their absurdly elaborate Valentine’s Day celebrations and romantic dinners and generally making you wish you could slap people through a computer screen.
But like I said: there are many, many others who, like you, are single on Valentine’s Day and annoyed with it. In your city, even. This is why you want to find your people.
Fortunately, where there are annoyed single people, there are also folks who want to sell them drinks. This means that you can be assured that there’s at least one bar holding a Valentine’s Day Sucks party. The odds are equally as high that there’s some other venue hosting a “Singles Awareness Day” or some other Valentine’s Day event for people who’re single on the Holy Day of Lovers’ Obligation and don’t want to be. You just need to find it. If your town has an alternative weekly paper, this is where you’ll be most likely to find them. You might also check 365thingsin$YOURTOWN or groups for your home town on Facebook.2
Regardless of whether you plan out your own Horny Werewolf Day party in advance or decide to hit up the bars last minute, the point is that instead of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself, you’re doing something proactive. It’s about taking control of your life in a way and pushing back against that sense of helplessness that comes with just grousing about Valentine’s Day.
Which is why the final step is:
Get Ready For Next Valentine’s Day.
Getting through Valentine’s Day this year is the first step. The final step is getting ready for Valentine’s Day next year… and each year after that. This may sound like a Sisyphean task that’s going to leave you waking up screaming in the night, but hear me out. Just as the key to getting through this Valentine’s Day is to take steps that give you greater control, the key to making it through future ones is to apply those same principles to your life. Dating – as I’m so often reminding people – is a skill. It’s something that you can take control of and improve with conscious effort.
Making the choice to develop and improve those skills is part of how you make Valentine’s Day something you can enjoy instead of something you endure – whether you’re single or in a relationship. And while I’m not big on things like New Years resolutions, Valentine’s Day makes as good a day as any to decide that you’re going to actively work towards becoming a more socially adept person. Part of the point of this site is to give you the tools so that you can make that goal a reality. Whether you need to troubleshoot your dating life, get better results from OKCupid and Tinder or make a total transformation, you can become the man you’ve always wanted to be.
Take control of your life and make this the last Valentine’s Day you have to suffer through alone.