Valentine’s Day Survival Guide

I have spent many Valentine’s Days alone. I clearly remember sitting at my desk in high school while seemingly everyone else (obviously an exaggeration) got pink and red carnations delivered by whatever school group was selling them for a dollar that year.

And I’ve spent plenty of Valentine’s Days in some relationship or another that was on the rocks. While sure, I had a Valentine on paper, we were not in a place where we were all lovey-dovey and the holiday seemed to just amplify my angst. Plus, one can’t go find a new Valentine when one has a Valentine, even if the Valentine you are currently in possession of is considerably less than mediocre.

I will say that internet dating sites seem to go dark in the few days leading up to V-Day, as few people want to attempt a first date on Hallmark’s Official Day of Love.

So here are some tips for surviving Valentine’s Day when you are alone or in a less-than-ideal relationship.

Buy yourself chocolate covered strawberries (or whatever your Treat of Choice is). I used to have a tradition with a single male friend wherein we went in halfsies on a large box of chocolate covered strawberries which he picked up and I ate the majority of. It. Was. Awesome.

Get off the internet. Seriously, right now. Well, finish reading my blog first and then close that Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/Instagram/whatever app is making you feel bad about yourself. You don’t need to read happy posts by all your lovey-dovey friends. Yes, we love our friends and we are happy for them and all of that but sometimes it’s better to be happy for them the next day.

Give yourself permission to do or buy That Thing. Look, if you were newly in love you would scrape together whatever funds you could to buy them something. Go buy yourself something. You have my permission to splurge. I always chose shoes because really, it’s hard to buy shoes for someone else unless you bring their feet to the store with you. Go on Groupon and get yourself a massage, facial, or pedicure. Not into the spa stuff? Buy an hour of kayaking or tickets to a play. Commit to treating yourself. Not because you feel sorry for yourself, but because you love yourself. And while some days — maybe most days — that self-love might feel very small and more like a crumpled up wad of paper than a Valentine, I’m here to tell you that doing loving things for yourself will actually make you feel more loving towards yourself. Sometimes the action comes first.

You know what? You’re beautiful.Take some selfies from all different angles. Play with the Prisma App or the Portrait Pro app and play around with pictures of yourself until you stop seeing all your flaws. Hate your body? Take pictures of your face. Hate your face? Take pictures of your feet in cool shoes. I have a ton of pictures cropped to only show my right bicep. Whatever. Just celebrate the fact that you are alive and you have a body and that alone is worth celebrating.You don’t have to post them. Just learning to see yourself objectively, even if it is only hey, from that angle I’m kind of pretty, or wow, I don’t hate my nose in that picture.

But here’s the secret: take a lot of pictures. Professional photographers know that the chances of getting a perfect shot are greatly improved when they shoot a ton of pictures, yet we amateurs take 2–3 and then decide something is wrong with us when they don’t turn out well. Use the flash, then not the flash. Turn your head. Stand in front of different backgrounds. Use your phone app to make it black and white, because everything looks arty in black and white. Pose with a cat, if you have one. Or a watering can. Or your favorite doll from childhood. Your goal isn’t to look like a movie star. Your goal is to take a gorgeous, interesting picture that you can be proud of. Even if you hate them all, resolve not to delete them until tomorrow.

Remember, it’s just one day. Tomorrow all those heart shaped boxes of chocolate will be on sale.



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Lara Lillibridge

Lara Lillibridge


Mother, writer, off-key singer and occasionally inappropriate dancer. Author of Mama, Mama, Only Mama and Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home.