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Celebrating Valentine’s Day can be fun.
Whether you celebrate it romantically or platonically, what’s not to like about candy, flowers, and perhaps a special meal or night out?
On the flip side, Valentine’s Day can bring about feelings of loneliness if you feel left out of the celebration.
For many years, Valentine’s Day would find me without a significant other, not dating anyone. The pink-hearted holiday would leave me feeling alone and unlovable while it seemed that happy couples everywhere celebrated with their bouquets of roses and boxes of chocolate.
I wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day with someone special—someone I could shower with gifts and candy. Someone who would send me flowers and take me out to celebrate. I wanted a love to celebrate and Valentine’s Day was just a painful reminder of that void.
After many disappointing Valentine’s Days, one year when the holiday came around, it finally clicked. If I wanted to shower someone with gifts, why not myself? If I wanted someone to give me love, flowers, and chocolate, why couldn’t I do that for me?
It started in a coffee shop one morning before work.
I was 30 at the time, on the brink of yet another Valentine’s Day on my own. As I waited in line for my coffee, a sweet little Valentine’s Day mug caught my eye. On a whim, I bought it as a small gift to myself. Part of me felt silly doing this, assuaging my loneliness with a coffee mug.
But the other part of me felt warmed by the gesture. It made me wonder if, regardless of my singlehood, I could still celebrate Valentine’s Day.
I used that coffee mug quite a bit that year. It served as a reminder that I deserved love and I could give myself the things I wished someone else would. That coffee mug with the red heart on it reminded me that caring for myself could be a huge source of comfort, that I didn’t have to look outside of myself to be nurtured.
It was a slow process, but I learned to love and care for myself not only on Valentine’s Day (but especially on the holiday!) but every day. I had finally grown tired of waiting for someone to come along to make me feel loved and special. I wanted to feel that way now and learning to love myself did exactly that.
How to celebrate yourself this Valentine’s Day, regardless of whether you are single, dating someone, coupled, married, or anything in between.
- Treat yourself to the things you want someone else to give you. If flowers, chocolate, or new undies make you feel loved, buy those for yourself. Treat yourself to a massage or spa treatment if you don’t want to overdo it with the chocolate.
- Take yourself on a date. Maybe that means going to your favorite restaurant or to see a movie. Perhaps it’s a shopping excursion, a weekend away, or a special meal at home.
- Write yourself a love letter. If this sounds ridiculous, start by making a list of all the qualities you like about yourself. This can range from, “I have pretty hair,” to “I’m a compassionate person,” to “I’m badass at kickboxing.”
- If you are single and trying to invite love into your life, envision the kind of relationship and love you want. Cultivate those feelings of love and kindness within yourself and radiate them back out into the world. Like attracts like.
- Extend Valentine’s Day beyond romantic love. Who else in your life needs to be celebrated? Who could use some love sent their way? This could include friends, family members, coworkers, and pets.
- Make it fun, keep it light. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be serious or expensive! It can be lighthearted and silly.
It wasn’t too long after I changed my mindset and learned to love myself that I met the man who would turn out to be the love of my life. I kept putting myself first, making myself feel special, and it made a huge impact on my happiness and feelings of self-worth.
When love and romance showed up in my life, I was ready for a real, loving relationship.
Fast-forward to today. My partner and I have been together for over seven years and have celebrated each Valentine’s Day that we’ve been together. We have fun surprising each other with gifts and cards; sometimes we go out for a special dinner and sometimes we stay in.
I feel incredibly lucky to be loved by a man who expresses his love in a myriad of ways—he knows how to make me feel loved and special. And I absolutely love having him to shower with gifts, treats, and reminders of how much I love him. Valentine’s Day since I met him is what I always dreamed of years ago.
And yet, I still find a way to treat myself on Valentine’s Day each year, just as a reminder that I still deserve my own love and affection. Despite sharing a loving relationship with my partner, the relationship I have with myself is still my foundation and what sustains me. The relationship we have with ourselves is the longest one we’ll ever have, and like any relationship, it needs regular TLC.
There are times when I pull that Valentine’s Day mug out of the cabinet and it takes me back to a different time in my life. It was a time when I was falling in love with myself and learning to care for me in a way that only I know how.
Sometimes, I feel a little nostalgic about that time. If I could, I would go back and tell my younger self to enjoy that time a little more—and trust that everything will work out.
Happy Valentine’s Day.