02/14/2012 02:53 pm ET Updated Apr 15, 2012

Be Your Own Valentine!

I was just talking to a guy about Valentine's Day and was surprised when he said he dreaded February 14th. There was no special woman in his life and he and his buddies would probably drown their sorrows about not having a girlfriend with beer. I was surprised, since I always assume it's women who hate being solo on this day designated for love. But I realized the hype around V-Day brings up loneliness for people of both sexes who suppress it at other times.

I used to feel depressed when the day of love came and I had no special man to give me love. Years ago, when neither of us had a boyfriend, a friend and I spent the day together, lamenting about each guy we passed carrying flowers or seeing couples walking hand in hand. We'd cry, then drown our sorrows in chocolate. For many years, Valentine's Day meant I had to have a guy to give me love or life sucked. Until ...

I was seeing a guy I'll call Ben for many months. He was quite romantic and I greatly looked forward to being with him on V-Day. While I knew he had deep issues about women, he'd kept them in check till five days before that day, when he picked an irrational fight. At first, I tried to appease him, literally thinking I had to keep him until after the big day. Fortunately, good sense made me cut him off permanently. But I was super disappointed about not having someone to romance me on the red-letter day of love.

I felt sad about facing V-Day without love, or roses and woke up that day in a funk. Moping through my apartment, reality hit me: If I loved myself as much as I said I did, I should be my own valentine. The guy I broke up with didn't love me but I loved me! Why not show me the love I wanted from a guy? There's so much pressure on us to have romance on this one day that's given so much importance because of the hype created by companies that profit from selling the flowers, candy, jewelry, cards, etc. that we've been convinced to believe makes us feel loved.

A valuable lesson hit me that day: Romance and love aren't the same, yet they get mixed up on Valentine's Day. Just because someone gives you all the expected romantic trappings, it doesn't mean he or she loves you or will be there for you when you need support. For years I believed that I was nothing without it and let that belief depress me every February 14th when I didn't have a man. Why not own my love of self on V-Day and have a special day?

I planned a loving evening with my favorite takeout and a movie I'd been saving to watch for a special occasion. No more spending time with friends who'd bring me down! As I walked through the streets and saw men carrying flowers, instead of getting depressed, I decided, why not buy one special rose for myself? Remembering that once I'd gotten tawny orange roses that I especially loved, I set off to find one. It wasn't easy, but I was on a love mission and late in the day found my perfect rose in a very expensive florist shop. It was 10 bucks for one but I was worth it!

I loved that rose and smiled whenever I saw it. After several days I dried it, keeping it as a symbol of the beauty of loving me. V-Day no longer phases me if I don't have a boyfriend. Right now I'm flying solo but looking forward to celebrating Valentine's Day tonight with a group --my friend and I decided there are many people in NYC who feel down on V-Day so we're doing an event called Be Your Own Valentine, to celebrate self-love. When you have it, you're never alone on Valentine's Day, unless you choose to make someone else's love more important than the love you have for YOU. My biggest blessing is finding and keeping the love I have for me! Whether I'm in a relationship or not, I will always be my own valentine first.