How to Stay Mentally Strong When You're Single on Valentine's Day

Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight

I never paid too much attention to Valentine’s Day—until the year I was widowed. I was 26, and it felt like all my friends and family had some amazing dates lined up.

Every chocolate display in the stores and every jewelry commercial I saw felt like a reminder that I would be completely alone on what was supposed to be the most romantic day of the year.

As a therapist, I knew it wasn’t just me who dreaded the holiday. Every year, many of my therapy clients talked about the angst they experienced as February 14th approached.

A recent survey from BetterHelpconfirmed Valentine’s Day is stressful for many people. They discovered that 15 million Americans say their mental health worsens around Valentine’s Day.

Whether you’re newly divorced, or you’ve never been in a committed relationship, you don’t have to fall into a pit of despair because you don’t have a romantic partner this year.

15 million Americans say their mental health worsens around Valentine’s Day.

Take a proactive approach to Cupid’s holiday and make it an OK day for yourself, even if you’re spending it solo. 

The following five strategies can help you stay mentally strong when you’re alone on Valentine’s Day. 

1. Establish a Plan

Sometimes the feelings of dread leading up to the big day are worse than the actual day itself. You might waste a lot of time working yourself up as you imagine the actual holiday being worse than it will be.

Establish a plan for how you’ll spend your time—and create that plan now. Whether you host a dinner party with some other single friends or spend the evening watching a movie alone, just knowing that you have something to do might help you feel better. 

Why It's Important to Have a Plan Before V-Day Arrives

Without a plan for how you’ll spend your spare time on Valentine’s Day, you might also be at risk of making some bad choices.

When you’re feeling extra lonely, you might be tempted to reach out to a not-so-good-for-you ex. Or you might turn to a dating app and make last-second plans with someone to avoid being alone (but going on a date with someone you aren’t compatible with might cause you to feel even worse). 

2. Create a Mantra

You might think negative things like, “I’m a loser for being alone,” or “I’ll never find someone.” But every time your brain exaggerates your situation and lies to you, it can take a toll on your mood. It also might discourage you from taking positive action. 

Positive Mantras You Can Try

A helpful strategy is to reply with a constructive mantra that you’ve prepared in advance. Talk back to your negative thoughts with mantras like:

  • Being alone is better than being in a bad relationship.
  • I’ve been through way harder things than being alone on Valentine’s Day.
  • I'm a good person. I'm strong and beautiful—inside and out.
  • A romantic relationship does not define me.

After you've come up with a mantra (or several) that feels right for you, repeat it mantra as needed.

How to Respond If Someone Points Out That You're Single

Sometimes well-meaning grandmothers say things like, “I was married for a decade by the time I was your age,” and well-intentioned friends may think they’re being supportive when they say things like, “I feel so bad for you that you’re all alone this year.” While their intention may be positive, their statement's effect on you may be quite negative and defeating.

A helpful pre-planned response like, “Thanks for checking in with me. I am doing OK on my own right now,” might prevent a more emotional response. 

3. Practice Self-Compassion

When you're alone on Valentine's Day, your mind might go to some dark places. You might even conclude that you’re unlovable. But beating yourself up for being single does more harm than good. 

Remember: Being single doesn’t mean that there's anything wrong with YOU.

Whether you’ve been in some unhealthy relationships in the past, you’ve been left broken-hearted a few times or you’ve never committed yourself to anyone, don’t let your brain get away with being mean. 

How to Practice Self-Compassion

The easiest way to do that is to ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend right now?” There’s a good chance you’d have some kind words for a friend who was single on Valentine’s Day. So give yourself those same kind words.

4. Practice Gratitude

While you may not have a romantic partner at home this Valentine’s Day, hopefully, you do have other people in your life who care about you.

Spend time thinking about the friends and family members who love you and improve your life.

You might even spend the day sending text messages to people you appreciate. Short little notes of gratitude might brighten their day—and spreading kindness might make you feel better.

Try This Exercise

Better yet, write letters to the most important people in your life. And actually, send them. Whether you tell a friend how much of a difference they made in your life or tell your third-grade teacher they inspired your career path, writing those letters can help you to focus on the positive influences on your life.

5. Distract Yourself With Enjoyable Activities

Whether you romanticize past relationships or you predict catastrophic outcomes for your future love life, don't indulge your negative thoughts. If you do, you might end up stuck in a negative cycle of rumination. When you think of unhelpful things, change the channel in your brain to something more helpful. 

Telling yourself not to think about something isn't likely to help though because your thoughts will likely drift right back to your negative inner monologue within a minute or two. So the best way to change the channel is to give yourself an activity that distracts you and occupies your time. 

Activities You Can Enjoy on Valentine's Day

Work on a puzzle that takes some mental energy, call a friend to talk about something positive, or plan your next vacation. Doing something different can boost your mood and prevent you from spiraling into a full-blown pity party. 

A Word From Verywell

Being in a relationship can be stressful–but so can the absence of a relationship. If you’re struggling with loneliness or you’re not sure how to have a healthy relationship, talk to a mental health professional if you can. And keep in mind that being single doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Nothing says you must be in a relationship to live a fulfilling life.

1 Source
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Businesswire. New survey from BetterHelp reveals nearly half of Americans are stressed about their love lives.

By Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.