If you’ve been married for some time — no matter how happy or problematic that relationship was — Valentine’s Day was probably still somewhat romantic and fun. As a day to come together with your “person” for some wine, chocolate and time between the sheets, Valentine’s Day can appear daunting to a newly single person going through a divorce.
Reminders of love and togetherness are everywhere — from chocolate-covered strawberries at the supermarket to bouquets and gifts being sent or received at work. And it can be hard to come to terms with the fact that your marriage is over and you’re embarking upon your first V-day solo in a while.
Luckily, there’s an upside. It’s a great day to treat yourself well, giving yourself that love and comfort you’d normally give to another person. Here’s how to survive your first Valentine’s Day after a divorce. Who knows? It might just be your favorite Valentine’s Day yet.
Turn to your single friends
If you want to literally be alone on Valentine’s Day, you totally can. But even if you’re romantically alone, you can still reach out to your single friends and make a fun group date instead.
“I suggest creating a ritual that you enjoy doing that can double up as self-care [as] you grieve the loss of your marriage,” licensed psychotherapist and marriage and family therapist Shirin Peykar tells SheKnows.
For example, you can make chocolate-covered strawberries with friends and create a new Valentine’s Day ritual, she suggests. Or have a dinner or drinks date, bowling or a girls’ night at home with some wine, ice cream and bad romantic comedies.
Do something creative
Getting those creative juices flowing can act as a form of therapy, says Peykar. “Attend a paint night event — alone or with friends. Getting creative can be a therapeutic release,” she says. What’s more, you’ll also be in a social setting, where you might actually make a friend or meet a potential partner too. (Maybe some dessert on Valentine’s Day with a new romantic connection after all?)
“If you have children, do something creative and hands-on together, like cooking, baking or an art project and get in on the fun,” she says. Spending time with loved ones can boost your mood, as it’s a reminder of what you do have in your life rather than what has been lost.
And if you are alone for the whole day and evening, connect with nature, which can act as a form of meditative therapy, Peykar says. “Go on a walk or hike and find enjoyment in the present moment with nature. This is a form of meditation, which helps with the feelings of grief post-divorce,” she explains.
You don’t need a spouse to treat you to sweets and flowers — show yourself some love. “Buy yourself flowers or a treat that brings you joy. This is a way to practice self-care by tuning into the things that make you feel loved,” says Peykar.
Beyond gifts, make the day all about you, licensed professional counselor Nickia Lowery tells SheKnows. Go to your favorite hair or nail salon, book a massage, go shopping, take a fitness class, or snuggle up with your favorite movies and snacks, she recommends. All these fun activities will give you a wonderful day no matter the company.
Consider a dating app
Join a dating app if you are ready. “There is nothing wrong with getting back into the dating game and having a good time. Chances are you are not the only one looking for a date on Valentine’s Day,” says Lowery. And if you aren’t ready to set up a date quite yet, a little harmless flirting and messaging on the app will provide a great distraction and boost your confidence.
Browse for location events
There are other single people out on Valentine’s Day looking for things to do. “Look into social events in your area. Chances are they are having special events for Valentines Day that you can attend with others [who] are also navigating Valentine’s Day alone,” says Lowery.
Enjoy and embrace your single life on Valentine’s Day with a good group of people and your next adventure.