6 Tips for Singles
If you're flying solo, Valentine's Day can be an excuse to feel sorry for yourself—or it can be an occasion to celebrate your singleton status and resolve to enjoy life to the fullest. To mark February 14 in the happiest and healthiest of ways, here are six expert tips on everything from dealing with set-ups to managing curious (or intrusive) family members.
- Embrace the lifestyle. "When you are single, be single with a purpose," advises Mary Jo Rapini, LPC, a relationship psychotherapist in Houston. "Create a lifestyle that you like." This means getting involved in activities, doing the things you like, and not sitting around feeling sorry for yourself, she says.
One way to do this might be to join a group whose members share similar interests to yours, whether it's a book club, a weekend soccer team, or a supper club. "We like to feel validated by being with people who are like us or who have chosen the same lifestyle," Rapini says. "We’re happier when we are doing what we want and for most people, this means being involved with things that have meaning."
Being single is an excellent time to explore without any commitments, adds San Francisco-based Margot Brown, PhD, LMFT, author of Kickstart Your Relationship Now! Move On or Move Out! "Make yourself a priority and use this time of no commitments as an opportunity to do the things you love and are interested in," she advises. "This is a building up process of working on yourself, while you enjoy being who you are."
- Don’t get pushed into dates. If a well-meaning friend or relative wants to set you up, consider accepting the offer only when you feel ready, says Brown. "If you feel pushed into it, and you didn’t ask for it, then you need to be assertive but gracious in deciding if you are doing it for your friend," she says. Your friend may know you well enough to know that you wouldn’t go out on a date unless it was a set-up, so she may want to do this for you as a favor.
- Tune out any and all naysayers. "Usually, people think they are doing us a favor by telling us how we can do (or be) something better," says Barb Schmidt, the Boca Raton, Florida-based author of The Practice: Simple Tools for Managing Stress, Finding Inner Peace, and Uncovering Happiness. "Just acknowledge gracefully what they are saying, and then politely let them know that you’ve got this covered," she says.
- When you’re ready, get connected by reaching out to others. "Don’t expect people to call you or come to you—you must learn to reach out," warns Long Beach, California-based Tina B. Tessina, PhD, LMFT, author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again. "And don’t get too absorbed by the Internet and online games, which tend to morph into unhealthy obsessions."
- Recognize that your opinion of yourself is what’s important. "We all like to receive positive feedback from others because it makes us feel validated," says Schmidt. "But the only validation that truly matters when it comes to our personal lives is our own. When we feel confident about how we are living our lives and know that we are doing our best to live according to our personal values and morals, other people’s opinions take a backseat to our own."
- Take the time to just sit with yourself. "If you find yourself second-guessing your decisions or actions based on someone else’s opinion of you, sit with yourself in silence for a few minutes," Schmidt advises. "Breathe deeply and listen to what your inner voice has to say, because this is your source of strength and courage."
Valentine's Day Do's and Dont's
As for how to handle Valentine's Day, here are a few do’s and don’ts:
- Isolate yourself (unless you do so as a meditative experience).
- Focus on what others are doing.
- Allow the occasion to sneak up on you. Have a plan in place to enjoy the day, whether it involves indulging in your favorite chocolates or catching up on exercise.
- Plan a weekend getaway with a single friend.
- Have a party for all your single friends and ask each one to bring along another single friend.
- Go skiing or enjoy other winter activities with friends.
- Consider turning Valentine’s Day into Volunteer Day and volunteer to tutor students, help at a homeless shelter, or teach reading through a literacy program.
Mary Jo Rapini, LPC, reviewed this article.
Margot Brown, PhD, LMFT. Email interview on January 26, 2015.
Mary Jo Rapini, LPC. Phone interview on January 21, 2015.
Barb Schmidt. Email interview on January 22, 2015.
Tina Tessina, PhD, LMFT. Email interview on January 20, 2015.
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