You’ve been without a partner for a while, so you braced yourself for the winter holidays, and surprisingly they weren’t nearly as bad as you thought they would be. You attended some lovely gatherings, ate good food, got a present or two, and even danced a little. You held it together — all right, you had a minor meltdown on New Year’s Day, but chalk that up to a “cleansing cry” and know your therapist would be pleased.
The post holiday weekend arrives and you’re running some errands, picking up a few things at the after-Christmas sales. Suddenly, just when you’re breathing a sigh of relief that you got through it, you notice that all those shelves that were loaded with Santa coffee mugs and Rudolf’s blinking nose are being replaced by heart-shaped boxes of candy and little stuffed bugs with signs that say, “Be mine.” That piercing in your heart is not from Cupid’s arrow.
You’ve just been stung by a Valentine’s hornet.
Even knowing for a fact that there are a lot more singles than couples out there, you can’t help but think that you are the only one on the planet who is alone. It really is impossible to ignore the cards, flowers and commercials letting you know that “Every kiss begins with K” and that you should make your reservations early.
Some people play the “It’s just another day” game. Others spend their time finding every distraction possible. I can remember waking up in the dead of winter on Feb. 14 and thinking what a great day it would be to clean out the garage. Video games could be a warmer outlet and maybe an opportunity to release some repressed emotions by blowing up bad guys.
These days, a number of people without partners get together and celebrate their singleness. There are even groups who gather to rejoice in their solo existence on Feb. 14 and have a “Quirky Alone Day” party, based on the book by Sasha Cagen (www.quirkyalone.net).
What you must avoid doing is staying in bed all day with the covers pulled up over your head or hanging out with fair weather friends like Johnny Walker or Jack Daniels. It will only depress you further. Look, a day of being down and throwing your own pity party isn’t the worst thing in the world, but there are better alternatives.
It’s important to make plans in advance and to have a backup. Keeping busy with friends or doing something you love will take away some of the sting. Wallowing will only leave you with a hangover that could last a few days.
Feb. 14 may be a hard day for you. I’ve been there and know how lonely a post breakup Valentine’s Day can be. But you’ll get through it, and finding something fun to do for yourself will make it a much more positive experience.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is an award-winning therapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of seven books, and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 27 million readers. Reach him at email@example.com. His column appears Sundays and Tuesdays in the News-Press.