Real talk: Being single on Valentine’s Day can seem like the absolute worst sometimes. We’re not here to tell you that it’s NBD, because if you’re freshly single and remembering all the cute stuff you used to do on Valentine’s Day with your partner, it can sting rilllll bad. But the good news is that it’s truly just one day out of the entire year. If February 14 is the one day out of 365 that you let yourself wallow in self-pity, that’s not that bad. And while it can seem like your single status is a bummer, it can actually be a blessing in disguise for so many reasons.
If you’re one of the legit millions out there who’s consciously uncoupled and single this year, here are a few ideas for how to spend those 24 hours in a way that’ll distract you, nurture you, and have you making the most memorable of Valentine’s Days, regardless of a partner or anyone else.
Spread Love Yourself
Valentine’s Day isn’t exclusive to romantic love, says Robert Vandor, of LunchDates.com. If you’re not getting flowers this year, give them! “Pop into a Trader Joe’s after work and scoop up affordable flowers to distribute at a nearby nursing home,” he suggests. “Nothing feeds the soul like making others smile.” Afterward, you can reward yourself with a fancy meal at a high-end restaurant and relish in the fact that you spread love in an unexpected and authentic way, he adds.
Remember That Being Single Legit Isn’t the Worst Thing
You can also volunteer at a youth shelter, soup kitchen, or animal shelter. “Give away your time, energy, and skills unconditionally to serve others,” says Alexis Taylor, sex and relationship expert. It’s easy to feel bad about yourself when you’re single on Valentine’s Day, but “we don’t see others and recognize their basic needs when we are higher in the Maslow hierarchy and self-absorbed,” adds Taylor. Take that energy and spin it into something positive to help those less fortunate than us, because there are problems worse than being single on Valentine’s Day.
Do Everything You’d Do if You Were Coupled Up
Let’s be real, most dates always end in Netflix anyway, which is great because you don’t need a partner to do that. The fact is, no matter how hard you look, you’re not gonna find a partner in the next 24 hours (and if you did, do you want to find someone just because you were on a time crunch?). It’s totally great to be in touch with your emotions, but don’t buy into the idea that you need another person to be happy, says Adina Mahalli, MSW.
Yes, you read that right. If you were looking for an excuse to stay in, turn your phone on Do Not Disturb and veg out for 24 hours—Valentine’s Day is the most perfect reason ever to do so. “Sleeping all day alone in your room doesn’t mean that you are depressed and lonely,” says Chris Pleines, of Dating Scout. And the fact of the matter is, with all the burnout and stress from your everyday life and school and balancing your platonic friendships, you’re likely in need of a rest anyway. “It’s one good way to recharge and enjoy some quiet time for yourself,” says Pleines, adding that it can also remind you to be happy with yourself and independent, not to mention focus on self-care.
A Valentine’s Day dinner = pricey AF. Take the day as an excuse to spend less than you would on a fancy date or romantic getaway to get something totally unnecessary but fun for yourself.
Sometimes unnecessary gifts to yourself are the best ones. Whatever puts a smile on your face is worth it. Don’t wait for a partner to surprise you with a niche gift you know you’ve wanted forever when you can get it for yourself.
Remember That Valentine’s Day Happens Only Once a Year
Just like every other holiday, it’s important to remember that it’ll soon be over. “It’s just a day,” clinical psychologist Rebekah Montgomery, PhD, tells Cosmopolitan.com. “It’s just a commercialized holiday—engage in some extra self-care and TLC to make it through the 24 hours.”
It might feel like the world is out to get you when stores are decorated with red heart balloons and cheesy love songs are playing on every car stereo. But come February 15, all those cards with heartfelt messages in them will be lining a dumpster somewhere.
Psychotherapist Hilda Burke tells Cosmpolitan.com that Valentine’s Day can easily feel like a “suffocating sea of soft plush red hearts that one might rather use as punching bags and oceans of overpriced roses threatening to pierce already broken hearts.” However, in reality, these irritating reminders don’t really make you any more or less happy. As Burke explains, “Many singletons imagine their coupled-up counterparts are having a better time of it, particularly on Valentine’s Day. It’s human nature to think that the grass is always greener. But the fact is that being single is no better nor no worse than being in a couple.”
After all, being in a relationship come Valentine’s Day comes with its own set of anxieties and pressures. If you’re single, you have the luxury of being selfish and putting your own needs first.
Remember Your Ghosts of Valentine’s Days Past in a Productive Way
Reflecting on past relationships isn’t always the best thing to do, especially if you’re still remotely into any of your exes. But for better or worse, Valentine’s is the perfect opportunity to think about why things didn’t work out with your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend and realize that you deserve to be happy too. Relationships editor Christal D. Jordan says it’s important to remember that people who hurt you are better left in your past: “This year, you aren’t in a relationship with a cheater, which is actually a step in the right direction. Would you rather be spending Valentine’s Day with someone who is disrespecting you?”
Use the Time to Connect With Your Single Friends
In the past, Valentine’s Day might have been a celebration for couples, but you don’t have to stick to that. Venessa Marie Perry, MPH, founder of The Love Write, tells her “clients to plan something special for themselves or with other single friends.” As Dr. Perry explains, something as simple as hosting a dinner with other singles so that you can enjoy some laughter among friends can take away any negativity you might have about the occasion. And if you’re feeling FOMO from not having a significant other to spoil on the holiday, why not treat your friends instead? “It’s always important to treat yourself and the important people in your life,” Dr. Perry says, even if they’re not necessarily your romantic partners.
Spend the Night With Your Vibrator
Not that anyone needs an excuse to spend some quality time alone, but if you don’t have any plans for Valentine’s Day, then staying home with a battery-powered companion could be just what you need.
Sadie Allison, founder of sex-toy boutique TickleKitty.com, encourages women to enjoy their alone time while they can. “Sexual self-pleasure is a perfect tide-you-over in between relationships and you can make a whole date out of it,” she says.
Start a Valentine’s Day Secret Santa With Friends
Sexpert Kryss Shane has come up with an innovative way to spread the love even when you’re single: Set up a “Valentine’s Day Secret Santa (Secret Cupid?) with friends so that everyone feels joyous on this day.” Basically, everyone deserves candy, whether they’re single or not.
Sometimes, a holiday like Valentine’s Day is the last thing you need, especially if you’ve recently been through a breakup or you just can’t seem to pin down your crush. But there’s absolutely zero reason to feel bad or ashamed about being single. Just live your life and keep on being your fabulous self.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.