As couples begin crossing off the calendar boxes until Valentine's Day, some singles may find themselves simultaneously dreading its arrival. But there are plenty of positive ways to spend the holiday if you're currently unattached.
"There’s so much societal pressure put on this Hallmark holiday that 'you should be with somebody,'" said relationship expert Barbie Adler, president and founder of Selective Search, a Chicago-based matchmaking firm. "You don’t need to have a pity party, but you can use the day as a wake-up call to reflect on your personal life."
Here, Adler shared her recommended strategies for singles on Valentine's Day:
Don't Sulk at Home "Sometimes you need to give fate a nudge," Adler told ABC News. "Rather than spending time with other single girlfriends who are negative and sulking, host a party where everyone brings someone else that is unattached. Get the word out, pick a bar or another destination, and make sure you're not just spending time with your usual crew. This way it becomes something to look forward to."
If you don't like to drink, choose an alternate wintertime activity, such as renting an ice skating rink, she said. "You get everyone to skate for an hour then have hot chocolate and desserts, and it's just as fun."
Do Treat Yourself "At the end of the day, everyone would prefer to be in love," said Adler, who added that single women are more likely to get upset by Valentine's Day than men, who tend to feel lonely around other holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. "Whatever you do, don’t be down on yourself. If being with other girls sounds depressing, go get a blowout or take a great yoga class. Buy yourself a treat--anything that will make you feel good." The point, Adler said, is to show self-love and stay positive.
Do Feel Free to Reinterpret the Holiday Shift the focus of Valentine's Day from romantic love to celebrating all forms of love, recommends Adler. "Reach out to friends and family to wish them well," said Adler. "If you show them a happy, positive spirit, not making the day about couplehood but about love, it’s a great day to honor special people in your lives that way." And it's even more powerful to spread the love somewhere unexpected, by doing something philanthropic, she said.
Do Invest in Good Karma Know a couple who could use a night off from the kids? Play cupid by way of babysitting and you might earn virtual brownie points, said Adler. "Taking your niece or nephew out for a meal or a fun frozen yogurt will not only get you points for being a good aunt or uncle," she said. "It will also show others that you’re happy and in a good place, which will make other people want to set you up."
Don't Forget: It's Only One Day Above all else, Adler is adamant that true love does not hinge on a single holiday. "Remember that what we want is not about flowers and candy," she said. "What we really want is love and companionship and a lasting relationship. You’re playing for keeps and it's worth waiting for."