I spend most Valentine’s Days alone. I’ve had plenty of relationships, but I don’t do a lot of casual dating. That means I’ve had more than my fair share of Valentine’s Days that consisted of books, video games, chocolate, and a good shot of scotch.
The funny thing is, I’m an introvert — I normally love spending time on my own. It’s my way of recharging and doing my best creative work. But introverts don’t always want to be alone. In fact, we can experience acute loneliness, especially during holidays like Valentine’s Day that bring pressure to be with someone you love, and a sense of exclusion if you’re not. Everyone faces this, but I think introverts have it especially tough.
So what’s the solution? Well, there’s no easy way to weather the Valentine love fest if you’re alone but don’t want to be. But I do think there are ways to make it easier and maybe even enjoy the day. Here are four strategies I use when I feel like a lonely Valentine:
1. Make a plan of your own. The hardest part of Valentine’s Day is being left out. When everyone else is out having romantic dinners and opening amazing gifts, it feels like you failed at the dating game. That leaves many people scrambling for weeks to find a date — sometimes up to the very last minute. I can remember going to a coffee shop on February 13 just praying to meet my soul mate, and cursing the universe when it didn’t happen.
So I’ve learned to do the opposite. If you’re single, make a choice to spend the big day alone and plan something you really want to do. As introverts, we usually don’t get enough solitude, and we can take advantage of the opportunity. Your plan can be as simple as reading a new novel or starting a new coloring book. As long as it’s something you look forward to, it will change your whole mood. There’s something powerful about being alone by your own choosing.
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One word of advice: work doesn’t cut it. It’s easy to say you’ll go into the office, or finally finish that book you’re writing, but sooner or later the work day will end and you’ll remember you’re solo. Have something fun and exciting planned afterward.
2. Don’t count on plans with friends. This is a trap I’ve fallen into too many times. What could possibly be better than meeting up with another single friend for a day of fun? When it works out, it’s a blast. But everyone else is under just as much pressure to find a date as you are. Your friend may suddenly back out if they get an unexpected chance for a date, a hookup, or a singles event. Or, they may just decide at the last minute that they’re going to stay in to recharge their own introvert battery. Either way, being canceled on can really hurt.
That doesn’t mean I’ll turn a friend away. But if we plan something, I make sure it’s something I’ll enjoy just as much on my own — maybe a pizza-and-movie night. I also reconfirm the plan with them several days before Valentine’s Day.
3. Singles events are good (with the right mindset). One alternative to being solitary is to go to a mixer event. This can be a great experience because everyone is in the same situation as you. There’s a common sense of goodwill in the air.
But I used to go to these events with the wrong expectations. Sure, in theory, this is a chance for an eleventh hour love affair — but it doesn’t always happen that way. I’ve gone to plenty of events where all I did was make awkward small talk and watch other people pair up. That’s almost worse than just staying home in the first place.
The key is to go with the right mindset. If I go to an event like this, my goal is to have fun talking to people. That’s it. I mentally tell myself you aren’t taking anyone home tonight. I also have a plan for what exactly I’ll do when the event is over — a plan that involves only me. If Fate intervenes and I happen to meet someone special, great; but I don’t set my hopes on it.
4. Accept your introverted self. This is the hardest part. As introverts, we don’t go out as much as other people. We will pass up social opportunities to take time for ourselves. And that means that sometimes, when we really wish we had someone, we’re going to be alone. And that’s okay.
There is a sweet sadness to being an introvert that extroverts will never experience. But there is also a lot of power. We are strong people who can thrive completely on our own. We have lonely moments, but we are capable and self-sufficient. The most important step I’ve learned to quell loneliness is to love and accept myself. I’m happy when I have a partner, but I don’t need one to be myself. And I’m pretty happy being me.
What are your Valentine’s Day plans?
This year, I’m fortunate enough to be in a loving relationship, but I’ll still spend Valentine’s Day alone. I’ll be in a different state than my girlfriend for at least two more weeks. I’m going to do my best to use the strategies above — after I give her a call. I hope it will be a good day.
What are you doing for Valentine’s Day this year? How do you weather spending a holiday alone? Is it harder for you as an introvert, or does it make it easier? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let me know.
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