Breakups suck. Ones that happen during "breakup season" (aka before the holidays) are even worse, and breakups between New Year's and Valentine's Day reside in a special circle of hell.
Even if you and your partner parted ways a few months before V-Day, chances are, that hurt is still fresh if it was a meaningful relationship. And knowing the holiday of romance is approaching can fill you with a unique sense of dread. How can you possibly feel okay on a day designed flaunt your relationship or love for being single?
Well, here's exactly how.
1. Remove the pressure to feel fine.
The first and most important thing you should do is cut yourself some slack. "Just because a holiday is marked on the calendar doesn’t mean you can suddenly rally and get over it," says Irene Levine, PhD, a psychologist and friendship expert. "In fact, [it] may even exacerbate the hurt. It’s normal to reminisce and think about past Valentine’s Days or other romantic times you spent together."
There's no magic, mathematical formula that will make you suddenly feel zen about your heartbreak, and the last thing you should do is emotionally race to try and feel better before the dreaded V-Day decorations appear in every store. Own what you feel, all of it.
2. Take baby steps in socializing.
If you've been feeling particularly reclusive for months but suddenly feel like you need to do something super social on Valentine's Day, you might be jumping the gun a little. "In terms of socializing afterward, take small steps to see what works for you," Levine says. She suggests something low-key, like a movie or dinner with a close friend or group. Skip the cliché of doing shots with the girls, or ditch booze in general, since alcohol is a depressant.
3. Focus on the friends you already have instead of trying to widen your circle.
If you feel like you let some friendships slip during your relationship, 1. Unless you literally ghosted on your closest BFFs for three years, don't worry, it happens to everyone and 2. Reach out to the people you haven't seen in a while. Even if you're panicking about only having two friends because you hung with your boo's friend group a lot, Levine suggests "sticking with people you know well, who understand your hurt." As tempting as it might be to go to a singles mixer or class on Valentine's day to start meeting new people, if small talk with strangers feels like too much, it's probably not worth it right now.
And if hanging out one-on-one with a friend always ends up in Deep Breakup Rehash Territory, Levine advises getting a tight-knit group of friends together so you can take the attention off your situation.
4. Try to limit how much you talk about the split.
Yes, you should absolutely talk about it, and often, with the people you trust the most. But if it's been going on for a while and Valentine's day triggers a three-hour replay of your most painful memories, it'll do no one any favors, least of all you.
"If you feel pressured to constantly talk about your situation, you may realize that you need more time to heal," Levine says. "Remember that friends can be supportive, but they can’t be therapists." Be wary too of (well-meaning!) friends who constantly check in on how you're doing post-breakup. It's sweet, but sometimes (especially on this day) you just want a healthy distraction.
5. If you just want to be alone, plan an ordinary good day for yourself.
Valentine's day this year falls on a regular ol' weekday, AKA less pressure to go out at all if it's truly the last thing you're feeling right now. Levine recommends giving yourself a present, even if it comes in the form of doing something productive that future-you would love, like Marie Kondo-ing your closet, or boosting your endorphins with a long walk or workout.
"Give yourself license to have a good day, even if it isn't the one you thought you would have,"Levine adds. AKA, if you want to eat nothing but cheese cubes for dinner while watching Marie Kondo fix other peoples' lives, live 👏 your 👏 best 👏 life.
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