02/11/2013 02:27 pm ET Updated Apr 13, 2013

From Dreadful to Delightful: Valentine's Day for Singles


Don't have someone special in your life at the moment? That's no reason to dread Valentine's Day. Sure, it's natural to feel a bit left out with all the commercial hype about the holiday out there. But the truth is that even if you're without a partner at the moment, that doesn't mean you have to ignore the meaning behind the day -- showing love and appreciation for someone you love, which could, in this case, be you!

Changing how you view Valentine's Day and making it more about love (its original intention) than about romance can make a huge difference in how you respond to the holiday itself. It also changes how you feel about sharing with those who ask the inevitable questions about what your plans are or what you did. What's more, making this shift will also change how you feel about yourself. It's really a win-win!

Rebecca learned this after her relationship had ended in the fall. Initially, she'd been dreading February. She felt she barely survived the holidays, and then she found herself coming up on the biggest couples' holiday ever. This was the first year she was going to experience Valentine's Day as a single person in a long time. The jewelry, cards and candy ads were bad enough, but seeing pictures of couples just made her want to scream. Why do they have to make it seem as though being single means you are a loser? she thought. Why does it feel as though being a couple is the only standard to live by?

One day in early February, Rebecca met her three closest friends for lunch. One had just gotten married and the other two were in serious relationships. As the other women chattered on about their hopes, plans and fantasies for the upcoming Big Day, Rebecca felt awkward and completely out of place. She played along as though she was fine, even though she wasn't. When she couldn't take it anymore, Rebecca made up an excuse about needing to make a phone call and left the room, hoping that the talk would move on to something else by the time she returned. Even though she was smart and successful, the conversation had left her feeling insignificant and unimportant.

What Rebecca didn't realize at first was that she had options (besides sitting home alone on the 14th, trying to pretend it was just like any other night). Her initial instincts were right on: Just because you're single doesn't mean that you are loser on Valentine's Day. After all, being in a relationship doesn't define you, and you no doubt have plenty of wonderful qualities well worth celebrating. In fact, the key to not just surviving but actually enjoying Valentine's Day as a single is to use the day as an opportunity to honor yourself and your worth. Why not make it clear to yourself that you matter and are valued, no matter what your relationship status?

Here are some things you can do to appreciate, recognize, and celebrate you!

1. Have realistic expectations. It's just one day, after all. No more, no less. Think about it this way: one advantage you have is that you don't have to worry about disappointing someone else, because you are celebrating exactly how you want to celebrate.

2. Appreciate who you are. Remember that you are unique. There is no one else like you. Write a list of all those things that make you who you are, that make you special. Then write a letter to yourself that includes all those things, as well as what you like the most about yourself. Write it a week before, the day before, or the morning of the holiday itself--and then read it out loud on Valentine's Day.

3. Treat yourself. Whether this treat is an actual gift or something you wouldn't normally give yourself permission to do, definitely plan on buying or doing something that's special. The treat doesn't have to be expensive, as long as it's something you wouldn't normally give yourself.

4. Do it up. Because you are celebrating yourself, plan things that will make you feel good about yourself all day. Wear an outfit you love, eat your favorite lunch or dinner, call a girlfriend you haven't spoken to for a while, go for a long walk in the park or take a scenic drive. After all, what better day is there to do things that make your heart sing? Isn't that what the day is all about?