NEWS

The Importance of Being Extra Kind to Yourself This Valentine's Day

drawing of woman having a solo valentines day date

Verywell / Laura Porter

Key Takeaways

  • Valentine's Day causes anxiety and feelings of loneliness for some.
  • The pandemic has created more challenges for those looking to find a partner.
  • There are ways to rethink and reinvent Valentine’s Day to make it less stressful.

For some, Valentine’s Day is a fun day to celebrate their relationship and love for their partner. For others, it’s a day to remind them that they’re single.

According to a 2019 survey conducted by the popular dating app Plenty of Fish, singles are so over Valentine’s Day. The study found that 43% of singles consider Valentine's Day to be the most pressure-filled holiday, and 1 in 5 wish the holiday was “canceled.”

Add in the pandemic, and Beth Pausic, PsyD, clinical psychologist and director of behavioral health at Hims & Hers, says people are feeling even more anxious about the holiday. “There has always been an intense amount of societal pressure placed on Valentine’s Day and especially so for single people. All aspects of our social lives have been altered in the last two years, making it very challenging to date,” Pausic says. 

So if you're single this Valentine's Day, experts recommend taking a moment to recognize all the challenges you've faced in the past two years and choosing to be kind to yourself—the dating game is tough, and you'll find the one for you under the right circumstances.

Navigating the Barriers to Dating

Dating during COVID comes with multiple barriers, which can lead to increased frustration and anxiety around not being able to connect with others and develop new relationships during a time when people are feeling especially isolated and alone. “While dating apps remain the primary way to meet new people and have still allowed for initial connections during COVID, the ability to meet in person has dramatically changed,” says Pausic.

She points to the following as dating barriers due to COVID: 

  • The beginnings of a relationship have remained virtual longer than normal.
  • Online connections have not had the chance to develop in real life.
  • Geographically, there has been a variable range of restrictions during the last two years.
  • There are periods in which things got safer and risk declined and then back again.

“Dating is hard enough without all of these additional stressors, requiring those who are trying to find love a need for more flexibility, increased frustration, tolerance and patience,” says Pausic. 

Beth Pausic, Psy.D

Dating is hard enough without all of these additional stressors, requiring those who are trying to find love a need for more flexibility, increased frustration, tolerance and patience

— Beth Pausic, Psy.D

Ways to Ease Anxiety Around Dating

Pausic recommends the following ways to help decrease negative feelings regarding Valentine’s Day:

  • Remind yourself that dating has become more challenging and it’s not your fault that normal social channels and interactions are different for now
  • Stay off of social media on Valentine’s Day and avoid watching rom-coms
  • Remind yourself of the things in life that are going well for you
  • Participate in social activities you feel safe doing in person or virtually that will help you feel more connected (a walk with a friend, talk with your mom, etc.)
  • Do something for yourself that you enjoy and isn’t related to Valentine’s Day (exercise, get a massage, go to lunch with a friend, etc.)
  • Reframe Valentine's Day as just another day that doesn’t need significance and meaning attached to it
  • Stick to your normal routine instead of trying to plan something “special”

While there is often talk about self-love and self-care during holidays, Gina Moffa, LCSW, psychotherapist, says these can elicit a sense of aloneness. 

“If someone is anxious about being single on Valentine's Day, I think the antidote is making plans that honor their needs--make plans that feel nourishing, see friends who you are deeply connected to, celebrate the positive things in your life, and remember that being in a relationship does not equal ‘success’ or ‘happiness’ or ‘wholeness,’” she says. 

Gina Moffa, LCSW

Remember that being in a relationship does not equal ‘success’ or ‘happiness’ or ‘wholeness

— Gina Moffa, LCSW

If you feel anxious about being alone, Moffa says surround yourself with people who value you and make you feel loved and cared about. “Even if it's virtual. Connection is connection.” Other ideas she suggests include: 

  • Write yourself love notes on a sticky pad and place them around your home as a 'self-love surprise'
  • Have a date night with yourself and luxuriate however feels good to you
  • Stop the negative self-thoughts that may come in that judge you for being single, by asking yourself to challenge that thought with an opposite statement

Pandemic Brings Fresh Take on Relationships

As difficult as Valentine’s Day can be for some people, Moffa has witnessed a shift in perspective. What she hears and sees from many of her clients during the pandemic challenges the Hallmark paradigm. She believes that COVID has helped people to evolve more emotionally over the past few years because:

  • people have already spent many holidays in isolation or without seeing loved ones
  • people were forced to confront mental health challenges and have come face to face with fears and uncertainty

"I believe that right now, we are facing a redefining of what love is, what our emotional needs are, and how much more important it is to tell the significant people that we love them in our everyday life, as opposed to one 'Hallmark holiday' a year since being faced with life and death events these past two years,” Moffa says. 

Gina Moffa, LCSW

I believe that right now, we are facing a redefining of what love is, what our emotional needs are, and how much more important it is to tell the significant people that we love them in our everyday life, as opposed to one 'Hallmark holiday' a year since being faced with life and death events these past two years

— Gina Moffa, LCSW

Moffa says COVID has deepened peoples' perspectives on happiness and partnership. “It's not just about money or looks or education. People have begun to look deeper at values and inner truth; more authentic connection. I see this as a beautiful side effect of a pretty intensely scary time for so many who may have lost so much.” 

What This Means For You

Valentine’s Day can cause pressure and anxiety for people who are single, and the pandemic has intensified these feelings. Finding ways to rethink the day and use it to spend the way you want, can help breeze through the holiday.

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  1. Plenty of Fish. The pressures of Valentine's Day & dating study.