Coping: After Divorce, Give Gifts, Attend Singles Events to Enjoy the Holiday

Some people believe Valentine’s Day began as a Christian holiday when one of the several Saint Valentines sent a love letter from prison and signed it from “Your Valentine.” Others believe the holiday is pagan, derived from a Roman festival in February celebrating spring and fertility. Yet no matter how it began, Valentine’s Day has become a day for lovers to celebrate and for the divorced and single to dread.

“For a newly divorced person, Valentine’s Day can be a time that reopens wounds that may have just started healing,” says Barb Nefer, a counselor with a doctorate in Psychology. “By making a plan for Valentine’s Day beforehand, you take power over the situation so grief can’t sneak up on you.” This year, instead of dreading the holiday, here are 10 ideas for surviving, and maybe even (dare we say it?) enjoying Valentine’s Day.

1. Instead of feeling bad about not receiving any gifts, become a giver.

Make a list of people you love and surprise them with something thoughtful. Remember the phrase: it’s better to give than to receive.” Give it a shot! Plan to hand-deliver as many gifts as you can so your day is busy and full of good feelings.

2. Plan a night out with your single friends.

Chances are you’ve still got one or two. Remember that it’s not odd or unusual in any way to be single on Valentine’s Day,” says Kristin Cavins, a mental health counselor with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Right now there are more singles in this country than ever; it’s a great time to have a party or go out as a group.”

3. Gather up those old love notes that cause more pain than anything else and have a Valentine’s Bonfire.

You can do this in your fireplace, make a circle of large stones in your backyard or go somewhere neutral where it’s safe to build a fire and light it up! Burn those letters one by one or toss them all in and watch the flames roar. Nothing warms a wounded heart more than destroying painful memories once-and-for-all.

4. For those who are ready to move on and feel that Valentine’s Day requires a date, find an appealing singles event in your area.

Look on community websites or in the local paper to find advertised events or just ask around at the office, church, temple or any other place you frequent. Not one for singles events? Don’t be afraid to browse online dating sites. I’m a big fan of online dating for singles,” says Cavins. I think that’s a wonderful way for people to dip their toes in the dating pool. It’s good to post a profile and see what’s out there.”

5. Celebrate being single this year by doing an out-of-the-ordinary solo activity.

Visit a psychic, get pampered at a spa (yes, even men can find great treatments), schedule a horseback-riding lesson, or try a yoga class — anything unusual that excites you. You have the freedom to make this day all about you. “Choose an activity that you might not typically do,” says Nefer. “Make it about self-love versus being reliant on an outside source.”

6. Don’t feel like doing much? Allow yourself the luxury of driving through or ordering in from your favorite restaurant.

Rent a movie, buy some magazines or curl up with a good book and just relax.

7. If being alone on Valentine’s Day is the last thing you want, host a small party or get-together at your place.

“Staying isolated and singing the blues is never going to lead to recovery,” says licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Vicki Carpel-Miller. “Being around other people, staying active and involved keeps the mind occupied in a positive direction.” Make some cocktails and appetizers and invite as many non-couples as you can. Have a secret Valentine gift exchange or a grab bag filled with kinky party gifts, depending on the crowd.

8. Go the extra mile this year: plan a trip to visit a friend or relative.

Take a short drive or flight and spend the holiday with someone you love. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, plan a trip to somewhere you’ve never been and always wanted to see. Ask a friend to join you or meet you there and have fun exploring a new place.

9. For those who like the culinary arts, Valentine’s Day is an excellent excuse to cook a gourmet dinner.

Make yourself a favorite meal or experiment with a new recipe. If you drink, open a bottle of good wine and enjoy the process of cooking for yourself. Invite someone over if you want to share, or cook just enough for yourself this Valentine’s Day. Turn up the music while you cook and relish being the master of your own domain!

10. Don’t feel like celebrating Valentine’s Day at all? Then don’t!

Maybe you’ve never liked Valentine’s Day, or maybe this year you’d rather just ignore it. Whatever your reasons, give yourself a “get-out-of-Valentine’s-Day-free” card. Go about your business as you would on any other day and don’t sweat it. Pretend to be hard of hearing if anyone wishes you a happy Valentine’s Day, and whatever you do, don’t wear red!


For other ideas and resources related to being single on Valentine’s Day, check out

Mandy Vemulapalli is a freelance writer living in Chandler, Arizona. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from UNLV and currently writes for “BizAZ Magazine,” “Woman’s World Magazine” and various websites.