10 Things To Keep In Mind If Valentine's Day Gets You Down

Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.
You know how a lot of buildings just skip the 13th floor altogether because it's "bad luck"? If you asked enough single and coupled people their opinions on February 14th, there's a good chance many of them would agree that we should just pretend Valentine's Day doesn't exist, either. No matter what your relationship status is, it's normal to feel weird feels about the Hallmark holiday.
Being in a relationship doesn't mean you're immune to the bummed out feelings that may bubble up, and most of it has to do with the hype, says Sari Cooper, LCSW, an individual and couples therapist. "The pressure to create a special occasion frequently ends up causing people to plan something splashy that doesn’t necessarily align with their authentic self," Cooper says. And even if people want a splash and get it, that can lead to a bit of an unexpected let down afterwards, she says.
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Valentine's Day also just taps on an already sensitive nerve, says Samantha Burns, a licensed mental health counselor and dating coach. "The holiday can really fall flat for unhappy couples, who may use V-Day as a Band-Aid to their underlying disconnection — but one day of chocolates and roses won't fix the cracks in your relationship," she says.
Experts seem to agree that you should just do you on Valentine's Day, whatever that may mean — alone, with your partner (if you have one), or with multiple partners. But at the end of the day, Valentine's Day is just another day that comes with waves of positive and negative emotions. Here are a few things you can do or tell yourself if you're feeling low on Valentine's Day, starting with the biggest one: You're not alone.
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If you're in a relationship, you can cancel your dinner reservations.

Don't feel guilt-tripped by your partner's extravagant plans just because they made them, Cooper says. "Valentine's Day is just another thing that you and your partner have to negotiate — and you can," says Cooper. You don't have to go in the complete opposite direction (from a swanky dinner to sweats), but you can instead suggest a half-and-half scenario that makes sense for you both. As long as you're clear with what you actually want to do, they likely won't be offended.
2 of 10
Winter sucks.

The fact that Valentine's Day falls in the dead of winter can make things feel especially worse, Cooper says. "You could be feeling bad because you have seasonal affective disorder, and it's been grey and cold for days and you're just not feeling it," she says.
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3 of 10
You don't have to hang with your friends if you're single.

You're not suddenly obligated to spend time with other single women for Galentine's Day, if that's not something you'd do on a different day, says Burns. But if that is your idea of fun, do it! "Surrounding yourself with the people you love will give you a sense of belonging and can help combat that feeling of loneliness," she says. Whoever that is for you, find 'em and hang — even if it's yourself!
4 of 10
The day can be about family, too.

Most parents want to hear from you any day, including Valentine's Day, Cooper says. Give your mom, dad, or sibling a call, and let them know that you love them. You can even go one step further and send them a card if you want to — parents also love cards.
5 of 10
Volunteering feels good.

Romantic love is not the only type that you can participate in during Valentine's Day, Cooper says. "Giving to someone else who needs it is a type of love," she says. If you know you tend to get into a negative mindset on V-Day, but don't want to go full-on Singles Awareness Day either, you could try spending the day volunteering for a cause you care about or making Valentine's Day cards for a homeless shelter or school. Do good, feel good, all good.
6 of 10
Wine might not be the answer.

Romance and red wine do not need to go together, and in many scenarios they just shouldn't, Cooper says. If you find yourself getting into a slump mid-candle-lit dinner (or mid-Galentine's Day hang out), chill with the drinking. "Alcohol is a depressant, so if you're not finding something enjoyable and drinking, you might want to stop," she says.
7 of 10
Your partner likely doesn't want to do anything, either.

Take off your drugstore-candy-aisle blinders for a second, and consider the fact that your partner might not want to do anything on Valentine's Day, either, Burns says. Communicate beforehand about what you have in mind for the "big day," so you're not set up for disappointment on either end.
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You can have romance on other days.

There are 364 other days that you can choose to show someone that you care about them, Cooper says. "Things are overpriced and busier on Valentine's Day, so just pick another night to do something special," she says. Or better yet, just choose a random day to treat yourself or tell your partner how happy you are in a relationship — nobody's keeping track.
9 of 10
Negative thoughts aren't permanent.

It is so easy to get stuck in a pattern or spiral of negative thoughts when you're not aligning with the people or messages around you, Cooper says. "Negative thoughts can be an expression of your sadness or loneliness, but they can also pass," she says. For some people, it can be helpful to make a list of the things bumming you out, in order from least bothersome to most bothersome, then add in something that's an argument to the latter group. "Fighting thoughts with evidence to the contrary is an action-oriented way to stay positive," she says.
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Singles events are totally a thing.

There is nothing lame about really embracing the fact that you're single on Valentine's Day, and, in fact, some companies host singles-oriented events for just that type of crowd, Burns says. Find the deals and events, and go to one with a group of friends or alone. Could be a helpful bump you need to approach the after-Valentine's Day let-down. Cooper adds that you don't need to make a singles hang an evening of "bemoaning the fact that you're single or making comments about other couples."
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