Remember the good old days when you were in grade school, and the teacher made every kid give every other kid a Valentine’s Day card? You’d get those happy Bugs Bunnie or Mickey Mouse cardboard squares, maybe a handful of those little sugar hearts with the messages on them? Middle school, things are kicked up a notch: you all know full well who’s got the “boyfriend” who’s going to give her that drug-story box of candy his mom bought. Or you’re a 13 year old guy and you’re trying to figure out if you’ve got enough change to pay for that cool stuffed bear you know she’s going to like…for about three weeks til one of you decides to date someone else.
High school, maybe you spend time wondering if that secret crush is going to pay up to send you a flower through the student council flower-selling fundraiser or not, or whether you should take the plunge and send a flower yourself. College, your first friend gets engaged, on Valentine’s Day, because it’s “romantic” and her boyfriend’s “sooooo sweet.”. You brace yourself as she asks you to be in the wedding and starts telling you how much the dress is going to cost, and the hair, and the manicure, and of course there’ll be a shower, and she’d really like to go away somewhere for the bacheloriette “weekend.”… Weekend? Suddenly, you’re questioning why her true love adventure is costing you half a year’s tuition and in the back of your mind you’re really thinking “Dude, don’t we have, like, two years left of college? You haven’t even mastered the washing machine in the dorm and you’re getting married? “
In any case, by the time you get to the adult world, a Valentine is no longer guaranteed by the teacher. If you’re single, you may get a little lonely around the lovefest, start wondering when you’ll find someone. Or maybe not; maybe you like Valentine’s Day, maybe because your parents still buy you candy, only now, you don’t have to share it with you siblings. Or maybe you just like holidays. Maybe you could care less, because you don’t have a date but you really like your life. Or maybe it just passes by because you’re busy and really, in the adult world, there are fewer “events” screaming “Valentine’s Day”; companies don’t usually have dances; there aren’t a lot of secret admirer flower fundraisers at workplaces, unless you work at a school. However there is one fear a lot of singles have and that is that, no matter how satisfied you are in life, someone – relative, friend, a co-worker, is going to feel bad for you on this day of romantic days and either try to set you up, include you in something awkward, or feel bad for you in a public area. If this situation looms in your future around February 14th, tell that friend you’re busy. And be busy- but not doing the sad, chocolate-binging thing. Here are five alternative Valentine’s Day activities for singles. No help from married or engaged friends required. Chocolate optional.
Volunteer. Yes, Valentine’s Day is a day for romantic love. But if you’re single, and feeling a little bad about it, loving your neighbor and helping someone else out is a good way to shake the blues. Or say you’re not lonely, and you just have a lot of good feeling you want to share: why not take some steps to share it! You can brighten someone’s day without that someone being a “special someone.” Christmas and Thanksgiving are big days for people coming in to serve at soup kitchens. But do you think they’ll be turning volunteers away on Valentine’s Day? Probably not. Get in there and start ladling! Or check out what the local elderly home has going on. They’ve always got Valentine’s Day parties at those places: maybe the staff could use some help, or maybe they know of a resident who could use a friend. Or take a look at where you already volunteer and see what’s going on. Valentine’s Day is a great day to spread the love. Maybe what you do to pass everybody’s favorite card-company holiday will turn into an ongoing commitment.
Plan A Party. Okay, so this couple is doing this fun thing, and that couple is going to that cool place. Sure you could sit around and mope about how you never get to do anything fun ’cause you’re single. Or, you could decide to add some spark to your social life and plan something fun and social for the future. Why not take some time on Valentine’s Day to plan a party. It doesn’t have to be big or related to a holiday. Just come up with a theme, or don’t. Make up a guest list. Think up a menu. Don’t stress, just get excited about having a good time with friends and family.
Send Platonic Valentines. All right, this wasn’t your year. You’re single. You didn’t get that big letter with hearts and flowers and XOXO at the bottom where some significant other is proclaiming undying love. The closest you got was having to talk to that weird dude in the next cubicle about knocking off the cornball forwarded jokes. But don’t use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to wallow, instead, take a few minutes to think about all the people you do have in your life. Send a note, a card, an e-mail, or pick up the phone and make a call to friends and relatives who love and support you and who make your life better. But leave out the dude sending the cornball jokes; he doesn’t need to be encouraged.
Evaluate and Reflect. A lot of single people use Valentine’s Day to reflect on their romantic lives: why aren’t they married, or engaged, or in a relationship? Is it time to get back out there, or are you out there too much. Well, who says the quiet of Valentine’s Day, caused by everyone else around you’s being out on dates, has to be used only for reflecting on your love life? Why not spend a while thinking about your career goals, deciding whether or not it’s a good time to make that move, or really looking over those grad school brochures you keep filing away. Check in on how you’re doing with your New Year’s Resolutions (yeah, right…). And honestly evaluate how you think you’re doing: are you being all you want to be, or are there parts of your life that need more work? And if you can’t shake that Valentine’s Day thought of “how will I find love” – know you’ll be better prepared for it if you develop yourself as an individual while you wait.
Chill. Again, forget the cliché of the lonely girl (or guy) sitting home alone on Valentine’s day eating or drinking to excess while the rest of the world is in love. Valentine’s Day is a nice idea, and in the right hand’s it can be great. And yeah, if you’re not single, the day can be a bit of a downer. A bit. But if you find yourself becoming overwrought: chill! Don’t make it into some huge deal. It’s only as important as you let it be. Ignore the hype and put the thing into perspective. Seriously, if the worst thing that happens to this year is you don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day, you’re doing better than 99 percent of the world. Or more! Wallowing is for the birds (and it’s sure not attractive…) So just “chill and be chill” about the whole Valentine’s Day thing. And of course, there’s the old reliable plan of chillin’ out with single friends. Only set the rule: no bitterness or whining. And make sure someone brings nachos to balance out the chocolate.