We all have had good and not-so-good Valentine's Days. Maybe it was because we were single and thought the special day didn't apply to us. And why should it if there's no love interest to share it with? I'll tell you why it should and what you can do if that’s the case this year.

I’ll also share what you should never, ever do under any circumstances no matter how lonely you may be. I know, because I did it.

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    Love You First

    Let’s be honest: we all have been single for most of our lives. So let’s not conjure images of lonely nights on the sofa with a blanket and a pint of ice cream when a specific romantic event comes to mind.

    Instead, put on a hot dress and go out – or at least put on sweats and hop over to a friend’s house. You could even go naked...and treat yourself to a hot bath by candlelight.

    This Valentine's Day, get back to basics and love yourself.

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    What It's Really All About

    I didn’t know what Valentine's Day was until elementary school when my teachers handed out lists of my classmates and encouraged us all to be fair and send Valentine's Day cards to everyone in the class. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who still reserved the best card for my secret crush, adding hearts in hopes that they got the message.

    It quickly became a day of candy and cards, baked goods and sweet notes. Somewhere in the shuffle, however, I think we missed the message that it’s about a feeling, an emotion – and a vital one we should direct towards ourselves first.

  • 3

    Forget Peer Pressure

    Valentine's Day is hyped up for months, putting pressure on us to perform and provide. If we are single, we tell ourselves it’s just another day, but inside we question if we can possibly survive.

    That’s when we should take a moment to breathe and relax and remember the true point of Valentine's Day. It’s not to spoil someone with gifts and luxuries, but to show that you care and appreciate the special someone. And if that happens to be simply your cat, or your grandma, or just yourself – so what? Love is the meaning. Even if all you have to give is your love, what a wonderful gift it is.

    Instead of muddling through the day like it’s any other day, we should think about the purpose of such an occasion and celebrate with ourselves. Love ourselves. Send yourself flowers, treat yourself to chocolate, buy that pricey item you’ve been eyeing for weeks or enjoy a day at the spa.

    If nothing else, foster that feeling of joy and affection within and tell yourself how beautiful and wonderful you are.

    It’s not any ordinary day, a day for the lonely to hide and sulk, and it’s celebrated for a reason – so join the loved and the loving, and love.

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    Do NOT Bother with Exes

    Do not, I beg of you, call an ex whom you recently broke up with and ask for a date. I did this a few years ago and it was not one of my smarter choices in life. The guy was a textbook d-bag, and while he did entertain my momentary weakness in honor of the occasion, I’m not happy about it.

    I asked him to meet me for a movie and didn’t actually consider that he might stand me up – the relationship ended badly, as my few psychologically abusive relationships have – but lo and behold, he was there.

    He said, with a sly smile: "Couldn't get another date for Valentine's Day?" I meekly replied, "There wasn't anyone else I’d rather be with tonight."

    We sat in the dark movie theater together, although I felt more alone than ever. I knew it was a bad idea, that it wouldn’t make the day more special or worthwhile, and yet I went ahead with the date. It wasn’t especially memorable, however, it did fuse in my memory how foolish I can be. Awkward doesn’t have a spectrum, but if it did, this date would be at the end of it.

    After the movie, we said goodbye, exchanged an uncomfortable hug and went our separate ways. On the drive home, I was left to think about whether my decision to see him again fulfilled any lonely desires I’d had. What had been the point? What was the purpose of going through with it?

    The only thing this accomplished, as I did not actually feel better about myself than if I'd been alone on the couch with my good pals Ben and Jerry, was to serve his ego and to squash any cool, 'I-don't-need-you' imagery he might've had of me upon our breakup.

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    Fight the Warm Fuzzies

    If you do just one thing to acknowledge this holiday, please affirm your self-love. If you don't have a significant other, perhaps you can count yourself lucky that you don't have to please another person, live up to whatever expectation they may have of you on this day or embarrass yourself in some wild show of affection that may not mean to them what it means to you.

    And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the pink hearts and warm fuzzies creeping up on you, remember – take a moment to breathe, relax and send yourself some love.