If you’re like me, Valentine’s Day can fill you with insecurity and dread. It can turn the most confident, competent, self-assured person into a blithering ball of sopping insecurities.
Having spent many, many years either solo or far away from partners for Valentine’s Day, I developed several techniques to help me cope with what some of us affectionately call “Single’s Awareness Day.” The kicker is, of course, that many coupled folks don’t even bother to celebrate Valentine’s Day, so in essence, its primarily function seems to be to make everyone NOT in a “primary” couple feel bad about their love lives.
But we are sex-positive, so we don’t need no crappy holiday to tell us when and how to love, right? Right. So here are my tips:
For those who are either without partners, solo, or in partnered relationships but unable to spend time with their partners for whatever reason, here are my tried-and-true tips:
- Self care Above all, do something that makes YOU feel special, sexy and loved. This may be a bubble bath, a pedicure with friends or a Netflix marathon. But go through your list of your favorite self-care techniques, and take some time to indulge in those for yourself on this day. I love how I feel when I go dancing, so I make sure to find a swing or a salsa dance event to attend that day.
- Socialize If you’re extroverted or simply feel the need for company, organize an outing. Go to the closest steam bath with a group of girlfriends; organize a mani-pedi party at the spa; go do one of those touristy things that you usually only do when family is in town: a wine tour, boat tour or go to the top of a local landmark. You could even just organize dinner and a movie with a group of friends, either out or at your own place. Instead of pouting, bring your support network to you! I’m fond of throwing a Valentine’s Day brunch and sharing stories over mimosas.
- Give Whenever I’m bummed about my life (usually around the holidays), my foolproof trick has been to reach out and give to those less fortunate. I make a donation on Kiva, put together a goodie bag for the homeless or volunteer at a local charity. Helping others is a sure-fire way to stop obsessing about how much love you are or aren’t getting.
For partnered people
Even if you have a partner or partners, there can be pressure to create some perfect romantic evening and/or gift that is worthy of a Hollywood movie, complete with swelling music and tearful gasps as the gift is opened. But many of us are not gifted with a flair for the dramatic, or we simply don’t have time to spend weeks prepping a perfect evening, especially with multiple partners. So my advice:
- Breathe Your partner(s) will love any thoughtful gesture you make. It really is the thought that counts. Worry less about perfection and more on what you and your partner(s) actually care about: being together. Sometimes, a lovely card and a phone call is enough. And here’s a tip: if your partner(s) have an Amazon Wish List and you can afford it, for goodness’ sake, take advantage of that and purchase them something you know they’ll like off the list!
- Focus on who you are Most people I know aren’t romantic like in the movies. We aren’t perfectly dressed; we don’t say those pithy romantic lines that melt the heart; we are generally pretty dorky. So, if you’re planning a romantic evening, plan something that is reflective of you as a couple/triad/group. A group cuddle party watching your favorite movie? A whisky tasting at your local distillery? Indoor sky diving? Whatever is reflective of and special for YOU is best. I actually do enjoy an opportunity to dress up, so my partner(s) know that whatever we plan needs to have a dressy or costumy element to it for me to be happy.
- Share If you are in a couple and don’t generally celebrate Valentine’s Day, consider loaning your partner out to a friend or other partner who does want to celebrate it. I’ll never forget the one year during my dating-but-solo-poly phase when one of my on-again, off-again’s partners’ wife said, “Take Minx out for Valentine’s Day; we don’t celebrate it, and she does.” What a wonderful gift!
- Determine privacy If you have several partners and date separately, a group date might not be the thing. Talk with each partner about what he/she wants for Valentine’s Day, and do your best to accommodate them. Again, many people have very different ideas of what makes for a great romantic holiday, so don’t assume; ask! You may be assuming you need to make four separate dates for four separate partners, but that may not be the case at all. Ask everyone how much private time they need in order to feel special. And, of course, don’t forget to add what YOU want into the mix.
I hope this is helpful for you–let me know your ideas in the comments!