How Single Dads Can Survive Valentine's Day

Holidays can be a time of great joy and connection for most people, but if you’re single you may be dreading Valentine’s Day.  Your friends are celebrating and posting photos of their amorous adventures.  But you anticipate the holiday will be filled with dread and self-loathing.

What are you to do? How do you survive?  Here's a five-step guide to not just surviving Valentine's Day but actually enjoying it.

1) Don’t punish yourself for being single! 

Don’t make matters worse for yourself. Don’t engage in negative self-talk, and don’t get in your head. Why do we torment ourselves with negatives thoughts like, “I’m not good enough?”  Or maybe you're the kind of person who replays memories of broken romances over and over again in your head.

This is not helpful, but it does perpetuate negative thoughts and feelings that certainly are not going to make us feel better.  

Stop the blame game. 

Don’t dwell on the past and don’t feed feelings of resentment. 

2).  Be prepared. 

Don’t just ignore that February 14 is coming. If you come home that night to an empty house with no plan, you’re going to wallow. Yes, you probably don’t want to be out in a crowded restaurant or sitting in a movie theater full of adoring couples, but you should plan ahead to make sure you have everything you need to make your night comfortable and special.

Hit the grocery store a couple of days before the 14th.  You shouldn’t be caught having to run to the store for toilet paper when it’s going to be filled with folks buying cards and flowers.  Make sure you have all of the ingredients to make your favorite meal at home. Have some great movies lined up to watch. Have a bottle of your favorite wine or a 6-pack of beer in the fridge.  

Be ready to answer the dreaded question, “what are you doing for Valentine’s Day?” Someone is bound to ask, and you should have an answer that you feel good about.  

If it would make you feel better, make plans with a dependable single friend.  No, not that friend who is going to ditch you at potentially the last minute.  That would do nothing but heap on feelings of loneliness and abandonment.   Also don’t plan to spend the evening with a friend who wallows in their own emotional funk.  Two Debbie Downers drowing their sorrows in Pinot is a recipe for a terrible evening.

Invite a good, solid friend to come over for dinner, listen to records, go to the gym with you, or whatever makes you feel good.  This night gets to be about you.  So, if you’re going to spend it with a friend, make sure that friend is supportive and positive.

3). Treat yourself!

Plan on a long soak in the tub. Buy a new candle or a new outfit. Maybe you love fresh flowers - there’s not rule that says you can’t send yourself flowers on Valentine’s Day! And to make them even more special, have the florist include a note that says, “You are SO worth it!” to reinforce that you are worthy of love and belonging.

4).  Celebrate love.  

There are probably many loving relationships in your life. Your friends have your back. Your family can be there in times of need.  

On holidays I send out a whole mess of texts. I want my friends to know I’m thinking of them. 

5). Practice gratitude. 

This is the real key. Practicing gratitude is the antidote for feelings of rejection and unworthiness. Research has proven that practicing gratitude changes the chemistry of our brain. Practicing gratitude literally rewires us to experience more positive emotions. Think about all that you have to be thankful for. It may even help to start a list of everything you have to be thankful for. When I consider all of the good relationships in my life, it certainly changes my perspective.

Will Valentine’s Day still be hard? Maybe. But by engaging in these five steps, you’ll be much closer to experiencing a Valentine’s Day that will make you feel the love and care you deserve.


Posted by Jay Turner

Jay Turner is a father of four in Birmingham, Alabama. He is an attorney and author. He loves running, cycling, hiking, and traveling.

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