02/14/2013 01:52 pm ET Updated Apr 16, 2013

Whether You're a Couple or Single, Valentine's Day Is For You

Valentine's Day brings up issues for many people, whether single or partnered. It can be a day that brings you joy, a day that brings you regrets or resentment or simply be yet another day that you tell yourself you don't really care about at all.

But let's face it, you probably do care.

All of us long for healthy relationships. We want to wake up next to that one individual person whom we can think of -- and call -- the love of our lives. Many single people use this day an as excuse to beat themselves up for not having found that special person. Not that couples always have it easier! Often, they grow angry with each other for behaving badly on Valentine's Day: By not doing anything special to celebrate the day, by not remembering it at all or by reminding themselves or each other how frustrated and unhappy they feel within the relationship.

Advice for Couples on Valentine's Day:

• Have Sex First

I first heard this tip from Dan Savage, the sex educator and widely published advice columnist. He points out that if you wait until after you're enjoyed drinks, dinner and
and desert, you will feel too bloated (if not too tired) to have sex. So do it first while you feel thinner and have the yen and energy!

But even if you don't have sex, you haven't ruined the day!

• If you aren't in a loving place, set aside your differences.

Any couple needs to realize that no matter how irritable they may be feeling toward each other, they can always decide to take some time to find good will and enjoy their connection in a positive way. The best thing you as a couple can realize is that even in the hardest times, you can intentionally, effectively introduce happy, productive feelings and good will into your relationship.

Even though you two might not be in a good place at the moment, show yourself and your partner that you can reconnect with each other. Stop waiting for the other person to make the first move. You make the first move. And when you do, never antagonize your partner (or yourself) of past conflicts or sore points antagonize by saying things like, "Don't feel like my doing this means you're off the hook!" or "I'm doing this for your sake, but I guess I always have to be the one who goes first."

Just do it! You'll be glad you were proactive, and more likely than not, it will go well. You can always return to your differences later. After all, they aren't going away.

• Don't write off Valentine's Day as just another occasion for a Hallmark card.

Valentine's Day should remind people to celebrate their love and intimacy. All too often, couples get so busy in their day-to-day activities that they take each other for granted, often neglecting to tell each other how much they feel for each other. Valentine's Day is a nice reminder to slow down and give your relationship the time it deserves. Yes, it might be an artificial, made-up holiday or an excuse for restaurants, florists and jewelers to make some extra income. But who cares? Claim the day for yourselves. Use it to appreciate your relationship and with whomever you might be involved.

Advice for Singles on Valentine's Day

• Use This Day As a Reminder to Keep or Get Back on Track

You may have stopped dating simply because you found it too stressful. If so, use this day as a reminder to get back out there. I work with a lots of single people who have grown frustrated about dating and bring me all types of reasons to avoid putting themselves out there again. While it's perfectly okay to take breaks from dating, it isn't productive to avoid it completely.

Clients tell me that things are just not working for them and they generalize that everything isn't working for them. This is rarely true. If one dating website isn't working, then keep finding others until you find the right one. Just because someone else is finding success on various dating sites doesn't mean that you will too. Find one that works for you.

If the Internet does not feel like a comfortable avenue then volunteer for something, join a church or synagogue, or start asking friends to go out with you to places you know where singles hang out.

It's hard, I know. Even though few people enjoy first dates, you need to see them as a vital opportunity to learn what you do and don't like in others, what you value and what you condemn, so that you can recognize he kind of partner who is truly good for you.

Use Valentine's Day as an excuse to push you back into the dating scene.

• Avoid feeling sorry for yourself

Easier said than done, I know. But I have heard clients admit that they tell themselves things like, "I'm never going to find anyone," and "Everyone else has someone, but not me." Those kind of self-defeating thoughts will only make you feel worse. Besides, they aren't true! The best way to avoid feeling sorry for yourself is to stay positive, imagining yourself with a caring, supportive partner, and creating and maintaining a vision of the relationship you would both like to have.

And by all means, avoid saying, "I can't get into a relationship until I get myself together. This is false! Dating and entering a positive relationship is the best way for people to heal themselves. This doesn't mean that finding the right partner will make all your troubles go away. But getting out, meeting other people and dating those you like will highlight things you don't like about yourself and others. Use each encounter as an opportunity to grow and change yourself.

• Be your own Valentine.

Use this special day as a time to treat yourself the way you'd like a partner to treat you. If you start treating yourself as you want to be treated, I believe that you'll find yourself increasingly attractive to people who will treat you that way.

Give yourself a break. Pamper yourself with some time at a day spa, buy yourself something you've always wanted or simply a card. Change your hairstyle. Buy yourself some flowers and have them delivered to your home or office. Treat yourself to lunch or dinner at a good restaurant, at half the price of a date! Get a piercing or a tattoo or any other reminder to feel good about yourself and that you're growing into someone with a lot to offer a certain somebody.