Admit it: Ever since the distraction of the holidays ended, Feb. 14 has felt like a menacing, looming in the distance, like a cruel reminder of the relationship you’re no longer in (RIP). The truth is, it doesn’t matter if you broke up five weeks ago or five months ago, your first Valentine’s Day after a breakup can be an emotional whirlwind. As you find yourself surrounded by couples declaring their love for each other, you’re left reliving your split — and, let’s be real, possibly missing your ex. But there’s so much to be thankful for on Valentine’s Day, even if the wounds haven’t fully healed yet. All it takes to survive it is a slight shift in your mindset.
As Feb. 14 approaches, here are a few things to keep in mind in order to save your sanity.
1. VALENTINE'S DAY IS ABOUT LOVE, NOT YOUR EX.
When you're newly single, it’s easy to forget that at the core, V-day is not about being in a relationship, and it’s definitely not about the one you had with your ex. It’s about love, in all of its forms.
If it helps, write a list of all the people who make you feel loved, and who you love in return — whether it's friends, family members, coworkers, or mentors. You might even want to reach out to them with a simple text letting them know you love them.
And while we’re on the subject of love, it might be a good idea to surround yourself with people on that previous list on Feb. 14. That could mean a dinner date with your sister, inviting a few friends over for a movie night, or grabbing cocktails with your office bestie after work. Whoever you choose to spend it with, the point is to reinforce the idea that you don’t need a significant other to give you love.
Let’s not forget about self-love, either. Maybe practicing self-love means taking a long, indulgent bath with some scented salts you picked up. Maybe it means takeout from your favorite restaurant or slipping on a luxurious lingerie set just because. On your first Valentine’s Day since the breakup, show yourself a little TLC.
2. IT’S BETTER TO BE SINGLE THAN IN THE WRONG RELATIONSHIP.
When you’re surrounded by romance, it’s easy to start feeling sentimental. You may start idealizing your ex, reminiscing about all the good times you had together, and perhaps even wondering why you broke up in the first place. But remember this: There is likely a very good reason why you’re no longer together (and you should take a moment to identify it). At the end of the day, it’s far better to be on your own than in a relationship with someone who is wrong for you. When we feel lonely, we’re often willing to settle for less than we deserve. And while you may be missing certain aspects of your previous relationship this Valentine’s Day (that’s totally normal and understandable!), that doesn’t mean you aren’t better off solo.
Being single means you’re free to focus on your own needs and desires in relationships but also in life in general. It also means you’re free to connect with new people — people who may be able to fulfill those needs and desires in ways your ex couldn’t.
3. YOU HAVE NO ONE TO BUY FOR (BUT YOURSELF).
Hey, remember last year when you blew a week’s worth of your paycheck on a lavish gift for your SO? Good news: This year, Valentine’s Day is all about you. Since you have no one else to buy for, you might as well treat yourself to a little something, whether it’s a pair of suede wedge boots you’ve been lusting after, a bottle of your favorite prosecco, a gel pedicure, or tickets to an NBA game (for you and your BFF, of course).
Think of all that time you’ll save since you don’t have to agonize over picking out the perfect present for your partner. And as for the money you’ll save — you might as well spend it on yourself.
4. IT’S JUST A DAY.
Feb. 14 may feel like an agonizing day this year, but guess what? It’s just that: a single day. There are 364 other days in the year, and while leading up to this holiday, there are reminders of romantic love seemingly everywhere you go, the hype will all die down as soon as Feb. 15 arrives, and all the candy goes on sale (#FTW).
When you recognize that Feb. 14 is merely a day, you remove a lot of its power. Are you going to let one day make you feel inadequate or give you a false sense of being alone? Or are you going to use this holiday as an opportunity to start a new tradition that includes self-love and celebrating your newfound freedom? The choice is yours. Regardless, keep in mind that in just 24 hours, Valentine’s Day will have come and gone — and you’ll have a whole year ahead of you to embark on some incredible self-healing and soul searching.
Your first Valentine’s Day since your breakup may come with a myriad of mixed emotions — and that’s totally OK. As long as you remember to be kind to yourself, to surround yourself with love, and to give yourself permission to mourn your loss without dwelling on it, you’ll be able to get through Feb. 14 — and maybe, just maybe, actually enjoy it.