10 Digital Tips for Turning Loneliness into Aloneness on Valentine’s Day

Loneliness is an aching heaviness, a sting to your emotional core from the bite of unmet expectations and lost chances. It’s a dark place widened by the recent loss of love and romantic attention.

We all know how painful it is to feel lonely on the holidays, especially one that nudges you to gauge the quality and quantity of romantic love in your life. Basically, Valentine’s Day forces many single people (and others in unfulfilling relationships) to do battle with the reality of what’s missing.

On Valentine’s Day loneliness can make it feel like an unflattering mirror is following your life around for the day, reflecting back to you life’s most painful angles. Yes, it’s an awful feeling, especially on this one stinking day.

I’m here to guide you around and out of as many Valentine’s sinkholes as possible. My goal is to push you toward greater acceptance of this moment which translates into greater comfort with being alone.

Moving from loneliness to aloneness requires an openness to accepting the here-and-now enough maintain perspective on and resistance to intense, unmet needs. When you’re ok with being alone, there’s a comforting sense of completeness, a heightened sense of knowing that you are all you need despite the absence of romantic love.

If your plan is to start a new relationship as soon as possible or find an immediate way to diffuse your loneliness, my goal is to help you bask in the feeling of being alone as opposed to feeling lonely. How is this accomplished on Valentine’s Day? Read on….

Please note that these tips don’t only apply to Valentine’s Day. Loneliness is a ubiquitous experience without necessary loyalty to holiday time. However, there’s no mistaking the emptiness felt by many when the calendar dictates that it’s time to celebrate the lack of romantic love in your life. 

One way people cope with Valentine’s Day is to minimize the validity of Valentine’s Day by declaring that it’s just “a Hallmark holiday,” “a social construction,” and “a win for consumerism.”

These potentially helpful thoughts might make a temporary dent in your loneliness, but once the posts of half-bragging/half-proud Facebook friends declaring their love for their boyfriends and girlfriends start rolling into your feed, it can become especially challenging to remain in mentally comfy place.

If you’ve allowed your loneliness to fester all day, then evening’s first sight of selfies snapped from a couple’s most flattering angle while smooching at a romantic, candlelit dinner could send you into an irritable tailspin of self-pity. But wait…..there’s a healthy way out of this social media torture!

I’m here to introduce 10 ideas for transforming your Valentine’s Day into a whole different kind of experience, but before we go any further, I must tell you my intention.

In order to create a meaningful day alone, you might want to consider steering clear of the path of least resistance. 

What do I mean by this? I’m talking about choosing to lean less on your typical digital vices, such as Facebook, online dating sites and TV, and design a more powerful experience that shatters your default just-get-me-through-this-miserable-day mentality.

If you do decide to rely on digital avoidance tactics, I’m guessing that the outcome will be one of the following (but I hope I’m wrong if this is your choice):

  • You choose to temporarily lose yourself in your digital wonderland to escape unwanted feelings until you return to your non-digital reality, at which time the loneliness could be much more painful.
  • You choose to torture yourself on social media by reading declarations of love and thankfulness, and see pictures of epic Valentine’s Day experiences.
  •  You choose to search and search and search on one or more online dating sites and end up super-frustrated with the outcome because of your unreasonable expectations and when you first entered the hunt.

We don’t want that for you….These behaviors will be there for you tomorrow if you want them.

My point is that the price you pay today for this indulgence is much higher because the unwanted thoughts and feelings are more intense!

We’ll channel your energy toward strategies that are likely to leave you feeling less lonesome, more at peace with your single status, and with the satisfying knowledge that you are investing in yourself.

My suggestions are not typical. They aim to connect you with parts of yourself and your digital world that promote more than just temporarily soothing. These strategies have a positive effect that lasts beyond this one yucky-if-you-let-it-be day.

Here are 10 of the Techealthiest ways to bask in your single status on Valentine’s Day:

1. (Let’s get this one out of the way. I’m repeating myself here to drive the point home.) Avoid quick fixes for numbing emotional pain. 

What are we talking about here? Mainly alcohol, drugs, online shopping, and binge-watching shows. Anything that artificially removes the loneliness only while you’re under the influence. The most important act of self-loving restraint on Valentine’s Day is steering clear of the online dating sites. Stay away from gorging yourself with fantasies of finding dates to ease the loneliness. Simultaneous messaging with many potential dates will inevitably feel unfulfilling on Valentine’s Day. With that said, if you can’t resist, make sure you limit your time spent swiping on your dating apps and strive to balance hunting for a date with other healthier activities.

2. Again, stay away from social media on Valentine’s Eve. 

Unless you have the rare ability to feel pure happiness for others who flaunt with romantic grandeur their declarations of love for their partners on social media. Parents who are single probably have the ability to live vicariously through their children’s Valentine’s Day experiences. Everyone else who is prone to Valentine’s Day loneliness…please step away from your Facebook feed when the clock strikes 7….all day if possible. That mirror I was referring to earlier may hit you with a larger and more distorted reflection of your life on Valentine’s Eve with an onslaught of images of people having and doing what YOU want. And tell me…what do you get out of torturing yourself?

3. Create a healthy self-love list…and check it twice.

Open a new note on your phone or computer (or even better on paper.) Make a list of 5-10 personal attributes that will benefit your future boyfriend or girlfriend. This puts you in touch with what you have to offer in a relationship. It reminds you of your strengths. For example, if this applies to you, you could write, “I have a ton of love to give and my next boyfriend will be so lucky for this reason.” Other examples are “I’m a great listener” and “My partner will only benefit from my sense of humor.” Read over this list when finished.

Now I’m stepping up the challenge…

4. Identify where you can take responsibility for why past relationships ended. (Skip this one if you’ve never been in a relationship.) 

This suggestion might sound painful and masochistic upon first sight, but it has amazing benefits going forward. Taking at least partial responsibility for why relationships went south is one of the keys to coming to terms with the past. Responsibility promotes making necessary changes in future relationships. Maybe one or more relationships ended primarily due to your ex’s actions. That’s probably true. However, if you can generate areas of relative weakness as half of a relationship, you can take action on the weaknesses you actually can change. I would recommend typing a few of the most important points on a digital note to increase accountability and help you hold on to any valuable insights gleaned from this daring activity.

5. Make or renew your commitment to personal growth and to following your passions. 

You might not know this, but a commitment to personal growth has a magnetic quality to it. It pulls people toward you and makes others experience you as a positive and attractive force. Open another digital note and make a list of goals that you believe will make you a better person. Include in this list what you can do to contribute to the happiness of others. A commitment to personal growth is one of the most powerful ways to attract a mate. This strategy might not land you the bad-ass mate your parents would forbid you from going near, but it can enhance the likelihood of finding a stable and loving partner in the future.

6. Engage in activities that that involve movement to enhance a sense of productivity and of taking good care of yourself. 

Choose to do something very active. This reminds you of your investment in your future. Go for a hard workout at the gym. Get into the pool. Go for a run. Take a long brisk walk across town. Stretch at home on the floor. Follow an exercise or Tai Chi video on Youtube. After you’ve finished any activity that involves movement, treat yourself to a soothing bath or long shower. Prepare a great dinner for yourself that goes beyond your typical meal alone. Alternatively, get a delivery of your favorite sushi or Indian food. You deserve it! Eat slowly and enjoy the textures of the food.

7. Skype (or Facetime) a good friend or family member whose closeness you value. Wish him or her well.

Sending love and gratitude in the direction of someone you care about goes a verrrry long way. It can flip your state of mind from sadness and discomfort to peace and fulfillment. Yes, even if it’s become cliche, it’s quite true that practicing being thankful goes a long way. Tell the person you called (not texted or emailed) how much you appreciate them and wish them a Happy Valentine’s Day. Bask in the closeness of this relationship and get in touch with how thankful you are to have such a person in your life.

By the way, if you want to read a phenomenal book about the power of gratitude, today is a good day for The Power by Rhonda Byrne. What an easy-to-digest, transformative and quick read!

8. Take time to ponder the following statement: “There is no rat race. I live at my own pace.”

The pull toward of social comparison on Valentine’s Day is undeniable, especially if you are not in a positive headspace. Of course you will look at your neighbor’s car and compare it to your own. It’s human nature, especially when you’re hyperaware that you don’t have what you want. Whether you admit it or not, if you’re not feeling an abundance of romance, you’re likely to pine for what other people have. Because of the “biological clock effect and the cultural promotion of social comparison between female peers, females are generally more likely than males to live in a story of being “behind” in terms of relationships, lifestyle, love, romance, and emotional security. It’s ok to want the love that someone you know has in her relationship, but why does it have to happen right now?

Unless you’re racing rats, there is no rat race. Your life will unfold at its own pace. Allow others to have their love. Celebrate their love. Accept that your love will come, just not now. Once you truly get this, you’ll let go of a giant mental bag of sand and angst. You’ll also have much easier access to celebrating the life you’ve built. You’ll feel rich because you’ll accept that you have everything you want and need to thrive today. Apply this coping statement to your love life until you can let go of the rat race, even if for a few minutes.

9. Set up a journaling date with yourself. 

I know I’m recommending a lot of writing exercises, but trust me….it tends to help people get through challenging times. Writing or typing your thoughts out gives you the gift of healthy distance from and perspective on your loneliness. Think of your loneliness as being contained in the words you write. When you finish writing, you leave the words behind and move forward with your day.

Leave home, go to your favorite cafe or tree and write whatever comes to mind. If unstructured writing isn’t your cup of tea then consider creating one or more of the following:

  • a poem about love and loneliness
  • a list of all that you are thankful for
  • a letter or email of appreciation to a friend or family member
  • a writing project that taps into your passions and creativity.

10. Authorize yourself on this day to explore your passions. 

People who follow their passions are seen as sexier and more desirable by potential partners. Passions allow you to lose yourself and find yourself at the same time. The time you spend developing your passions is one of the healthiest ways to invest yourself. It’s the ultimate form of your personal growth. Be passionate today about developing your current passions and exploring new ones. How do you do this if you are stuck at home? Go online and start reading about a topic that interests you, something you could potentially develop in the future. Do you want to learn more about marketing, new technology, fashion, the different philosophies associated with various forms of martial arts? Focus less on the search and more on time spent reading and studying. This will make your Valentine’s Day and the rest of your life more fulfilling.

On Valentine’s Day, if you choose to spend loads of time trying to virtually connect with others on the internet, strive to get to a place of embracing your aloneness first. Limit this effort if the loneliness prevails. Virtual connection is likely to enhance your loneliness given how hard it is to meet expectations for the fulfillment of emotional needs online. Be realistic about what messaging can provide to avoid disappointment.

There’s no shame or defeat in embracing loneliness. In fact, this very act might shift your mentality toward acceptance of being alone.

I wish you a Valentine’s Day filled with healthy self-love and productive reflection.

Best,

Dr. Greg