You've just got over the stress of being alone at Christmas and then along comes the dreaded date in every single person's diary - 14 February. For at least 2 weeks leading up to Valentine's shop windows filled with pink and red hearts remind us of our single status. It's only one day out of 365 but it can seem to drag on longer than it's 24 hours.
I'm now happily married but have spent 17 adult Valentine's days alone. I had the pleasure of either being dumped just before Feb 14th, stood up or dating someone who was "unavailable" on that date. With all that experience, I learnt how to get the most out of Valentines without another half to share it with. Here are some ways to make it more bearable:
Celebrate with like-minded singletons
If you can't compete with paired off friends, create your own fun by spending it with other free spirits. Ideally it's great to go out with a mixed crowd of men and women. If you get everyone to invite along a member of the opposite sex, you could end up meeting "the one" that night. Even if it's hard to drum up men to go out with, it can be just as fun to have a girly night in or out. Much more fun moaning in the company of others, rather than drowning your sorrows on your own at home. If you want to avoid the couple only restaurants on the 14th, clubs can be a great place to hang out. You can more or less guarantee that men out on their own in clubs are single. I went out one Valentine's night to a club with a friend thinking it was a better option than feeling sorry for myself on the sofa - I ended up meeting and going home with my very own Valentine!
Indulge in a Valentine's Work-Out
If you're a member of a gym, attending a class or pumping some iron, is a great way to make yourself feel better. You'll obviously get the endorphin high and will be able to enjoy a guilt free Valentine's treat such as chocolates or your favourite take-away. It's also a good opportunity to check out the talent - if they're in the gym on Valentine's - they must be single or soon to be!
Open up your heart to others
A great way to distract yourself from loneliness and despair is to focus on someone who is worse off. Rather than wallowing you could volunteer your time to help someone less fortunate. This could include visiting an elderly person, calling someone who you know is having a rougher time than you or helping out at a local charity. You can look up great local volunteering ideas at www.volunteering.org.uk for Valentines or on a regular basis for as little as an hour a week.
Hit the dance floor
Dance classes attract a high percentage of single people of all ages and from all backgrounds. I know many couples whose eyes first met across a dance floor. Try Salsa for upbeat music, Ceroc for pure fun and Tango for sexy, sultry moves. There is bound to be a class near you taking place on Wednesday February 14th or you can start dancing on a regular basis. For more information check out: www.londonsalsa.co.uk, www.cercolondon.com, www.thetangoclub.com,
Share your love
There's no rule saying that the spirit of Valentine's is exclusively reserved for lovers. Why not send cards to family and friends and tell them how much you appreciate them. You may get a few in return to fill the mantelpiece. You could also offer to treat a family member or friend to a night out or weekend away just as you would a partner.
Be happy with who you are or no-one else will be. Love yourself first or no-one else will. Put these words into action by showing that you appreciate yourself. This could include treating yourself to a luxurious massage, facial, pedicure or manicure or buying yourself that item of clothing you have been coveting all season. You can also spoil yourself with fresh flowers or chocolates. For a guilt-free option, try organic chocolate, which typically has less sugar is higher in antioxidants. One way to remember how special you are is to write yourself a letter at least a week before the 14th and listing what you value about yourself. You lock it away and save it until Valentine's. It will really lift you out of any low moods.
Boycott it altogether
I'm not usually one to focus on the negative but if Valentine's really does get you down and you can't stand the thought of going on a specially organised Valentine's night for singles, the best option could be to avoid the day altogether. You can also see it for what it is - an overly commercialised day where prices are artificially hiked and some people give each other gifts out of guilt rather than sincerity. You can smugly comfort yourself that you're not wasting anyone's time or money on a contrived night out!
Candy Jannetta is a Relationship Coach who specialises in helping others to meet a partner. Especially for Valentines, she is offering all Huffington Post readers a free 30-minute coaching session to help you find out what is holding you back from meeting that special someone. Email her: firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.