Almost everyone has spent a few St Valentine’s Days alone.
Maybe you are between relationships (recently dumped), or sweet 26 and never been kissed, or recently widowed or divorced. These events might make you view St Valentine’s Day with the same trepidation with which a turkey views Christmas.
All those garish and tasteless cards, which you would secretly not mind receiving, those red frilly cushions everywhere and red roses and hearts on magazine covers all serve to remind you of your single status.
Don't mind being single?
Some people don’t mind being single at all. In fact, it could be a positively joyous state in the light of what might have gone before. One can never be as lonely by yourself as you are in a relationship or marriage that is not working. Some people don’t want or need relationships other than friendships. For them, happy and single are two words, which can be used in the same sentence. To these people, St Valentine’s Day is what Christmas would be to a Tibetan monk.
But for others, the approach of St Valentine’s Day is traumatic as people reflect on their love lives, their current relationships, which may or may not be working, or their possibly unwanted single status.
If you are single and potentially miserable:
Single moan fest. Don’t mope around at home on your own. Get a friend to mope with you. Sometimes misery does indeed love company.
Have a celebration anyway. Organise a dinner party or a braai, and invite the singles over. They're the best company anyway.
Avoid restaurant blues. Don’t go to a restaurant where you will be surrounded by amorous couples. They're crowded tonight anyway, and the food and music are likely to be dodgier than usual.
Steer clear of sentiment. Whatever you do, this is not the time to haul out your stash of old love letters or photograph albums. Like Sunday nights or Christmas day, St Valentine's Day is a potentially emotionally charged occasion. Make it easier for yourself by not picking at the scabs of the past.
A laugh-a minute evening. Get a few comedies on video and invite friends over. Get each person to bring something to eat. You might end up not having to cook at all.
Have an early night. Go for a long walk and have an early night. Take pleasure in the fact that, on the morning of the 15th, you will be on time for work, without a hangover, and not miserable - there are always a lot of disappointed people on the 15th; people whose expectations for the night before weren't met. Suckers.
Spoil yourself. Well, if no-one else is going to, why not go shopping. The new pair of jeans you saw last week? Way to go! Sometimes a bit of retail therapy is appropriate. Just don't buy yourself flowers (they're triple the price at this time of the year).
Be bold. If you are feeling brave, ask someone out. If your invitation is refused, follow the above steps.
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