My name is Abby, and I don’t like Valentine’s Day. There. I said it. But across the US and all around the world, people are celebrating Valentine’s Day either today or on another special date (depending on the country). Today I’m going to share the three steps for having a Valentine’s Day filled with connection, love and joy, whether you’re single or shacked up.
Ugh this day. When I was single, I hated it because I felt so left out and defensive of my singledom. As a psychologist, I don’t like it because of all the complaints and misery my partnered or single clients go through around this day. And as a partnered person myself, I still don’t like it and (gasp!) don’t celebrate it in the traditional way.
In my experience, there are too many high expectations around this day here in the US, which result in disappointment, feelings of disconnection, anxiety and increased loneliness. However, I’ve found that you can feel more connection, love and joy on Valentine’s Day and all it takes is a shift in your mindset about what the holiday is really about.
Instead of focusing on your romantic partner, or lack thereof, I’d like you to focus on the love in all your different relationships. If you make Valentine’s Day about celebrating all those different people and relationships, including your relationship with yourself, you’re going to have a whole new perspective and feel really great about this day.
Other Countries Already Do This
Now, many countries are already doing this. Scandinavians are focused on friendship versus romantic love. For example, Finland celebrates Ystävänpäivä, which basically translates to Friendship Day. The Fins don’t focus on their partners on February 14th and instead give little mementos or gifts to their friends to let them know how much they’re loved and valued. Estonia also has a tradition of giving cards and gifts to best friends and neighbors. They even have a special Love Bus where singles can take a ride and see if they meet someone special. And in Norway and Denmark, friends and lovers exchange cards, flowers and even joke letters.
Many countries in South and Central America also focus on friendship, not partners. In Columbia, Valentine’s Day is known as a day of love and friendship so friends give one another anonymous gifts, and in Guatemala City, there’s a colorful parade for senior citizens! In Argentina, they’ve got a whole week in July dedicated to their partners as well as their friends. During this “Sweetness Week” it’s customary to exchange candy as well as hugs and kisses.
And Mexicans also see this as a day for both romantic and platonic relationships. There, February 14th is known as a day of love and friendship so people in all kinds of relationships exchange cards and gifts.
And let’s not forget South Korea where women give gifts to men first (as they do in Japan), but they have another holiday on April 14th, known as Black Day, where single friends get together to eat noodles (that are in a black sauce) and celebrate being single.
So, how do you get the focus on all these friendships and other types of relationships this Valentine’s Day? By following these three steps whether you’re single or partnered:
Step #1: Spend time in mindful reflection about your relationship with yourself.
How have you been treating you? Where is your self-compassion? How is your inner voice/critic speaking to you? Set a timer for five minutes and journal an answer to these questions. If you’re up for it, it’s a wonderful time to do a guided self-compassion type meditation.
Head over to my shop and pick up an inspirational journal to write down your thoughts and reflections.
I highly recommend making a commitment to do a loving kindness meditation daily for one week. This tip will clearly help if you’re single but it’s also key for partnered people because accepting love from someone else is quite hard when you’re having trouble loving yourself.
Focus on developing feelings of compassion, love, kindness and warmth towards yourself and other people using this loving kindness meditation.
Step #2: Make a list of all the people you love.
Set aside 15 minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time. Create a document or get out a piece of paper and make a line down the middle so you have two columns. In the first or left-hand column, make an exhaustive list of all the people you love (this can include animals or people who have passed). Then I want you to continue that list and add all the people you appreciate (this will likely include coworkers, neighbors or the UPS delivery person who always makes sure you get your packages). Finally, continue to add to that list (still in the left column) and add all the people you might not necessarily love, but who you feel true care for.
Now take a moment and notice how great and full of love you feel (but you’re not done). In the right-hand column, across from that person’s name, I want you to write down something you want to do or say to let that person know you love, appreciate or care about them. It could be anything from taking your dog on a long walk (because that’s her happy place), to donating money in your father-in-law’s name to a charity he cares about, to hugging your son, to waking up early tomorrow to let your partner sleep while you care for the kids, to saying a loving prayer to your dearly departed grandmother.
Now I want you to add some dates to all these different people. You’re not going to be able to get to everyone today likely, but I want you to make it a goal to get to everyone within the next week (maybe two depending on your list). If there are two people on your list, don’t judge it or think the list should be longer. Having two people that you love or appreciate is amazing.
Finally, I want you to notice whether you included your own name on that list! If you didn’t, it’s time to add that most important person and write down what you’d like to do for them (you) to show your love, appreciation and care. Make this list a priority today and over the next week or two.
Step #3: Keep your expectations in check
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT! have any expectations or judgments tacked onto this day. I want you to have high standards and low expectations about what this day should be about. Remind yourself that it’s about love, which is abundant and expansive. If you’re not feeling those things, I want you to step back and check your thinking. Get a new re-frame on the day and this moment. Be mindful and stay in your loving intention throughout the day.
Want to learn more about how to set your standards and keep your boundaries? Get Boundaries Made Easy today.
Don’t set up some huge date night with your partner if you’re going to be exhausted after getting the kids squared away and then worried that you’ll need to have rock star sex later. Don’t hide away in your house if you’re single, unless that’s your happy place! Make sure you’ve reached out to let someone know you love them. Or buy yourself a big ass box of chocolates and curl up with a good book (or a movie).