Valentine’s Day can be a big challenge for newly separated people, because around February 14th the world seems to consist only of togetherness, boxes of chocolates and bouquets of flowers. It is just as difficult to get through the day when the last relationship was a long time ago and the longing for a partner is growing. Hanne Horvath, co-founder of the online therapy platform HelloBetter, explains how singles can not only get through Valentine’s Day better, but maybe even enjoy it.

Around Valentine’s Day, singles everywhere are confronted with the fact that they are alone. What is the best way to deal with this feeling?

Hanne Horvath: The confrontation is only painful when there is a great desire for a relationship. People who are happy to be alone right now will celebrate this day differently than those who want someone by their side. This longing can express itself in different ways. Many become sad and perhaps dissolve in their feelings. Others try to downplay their needs and devalue couple relationships. Both are perfectly understandable and normal. Only it is more helpful to level off a bit in the middle of these two poles.

In the first step, it makes sense to accept the wish first and not to get into negative or self-deprecating thought loops. Instead, focus on what we ourselves could improve about the relationship we always have. That is the relationship with ourselves. Opening up to it again is an opportunity. We become our own Valentine. Of course it’s not easy, but I encourage you to look at what needs we could fulfill ourselves. Because the desire for a relationship is often associated with a hope for more emotional support, security, affection, joy or intimacy.

What can you do during the day to distract yourself?

I think it’s important not to distract yourself, but to make a conscious decision to do something that gives you pleasure. It is best to take ten minutes and write down everything that feels good. For example, a long walk in nature, with loud music on the headphones. Apart from that, I like to plan my next vacation or the next weekend with my friends from college. Simply collect all of these small and large sources of energy and then fill them up accordingly on Valentine’s Day to give yourself a present.

Thinking of the loved one on the “Day of Love” is almost inevitable. How do you survive the first Valentine’s Day after a breakup?

Breakups are hard and usually involve a lot of heartache. So I would also say that just suffering is perfectly fine and can even be helpful. So allow the painful feeling of missing and longing, but not be alone. It’s better to think about who it’s better to be with at your side and spend a day or evening with family or good friends. I think it’s important to keep creating spaces in which you can allow and show your own grief. This feeling that there are other people you trust who stand by you is very valuable and can give us enormous strength in coping with the loss of a relationship.

In the office or with friends, people like to tell you what’s planned for Valentine’s Day or what great gifts your partner has given you. Many singles then cannot have a say and may even get a pitying look. How do you stay strong in such situations?

Of course, it is very difficult not to feel left out in such situations. Our colleagues don’t even have to give us pitying looks for this, we usually manage it without the reactions of others. Changing perspective and considering the benefits of being single can help. So in concrete terms: what can we do on Valentine’s Day that works better alone than with a partner? Because when we’re single, it’s easy to forget why it can be nice and easy not to have to coordinate with anyone. It’s important to remind yourself from time to time how much freer and more spontaneous you can live your life when there’s no one by your side who has an opinion on it. It can also help you deal better with a painful breakup. Is there anything I gave up for my partner? An interest that I no longer pursued because it didn’t fit well into the relationship? I would track down these needs and let myself be surprised at what is coming.

How to support a sad single person as an outsider on Valentine’s Day?

I would recommend considering what I can do to make the person most happy. If she talks about often feeling lonely and longing for a partner, then the best thing to do is give them some time together and extend an invitation. Small gifts are sure to go down well. A handwritten card, a book, a special coffee or tea. Just imagine, it’s the person’s birthday, and you’ll certainly come up with some ideas. I would also consider whether it is well received to give flowers in a very classic way and thus make a direct reference to Valentine’s Day. Why should this day be reserved exclusively for couple relationships? Why not boldly break with the cliché? That’s how the sad single friend or girlfriend feels seen, valued and belonging and that’s mostly what it’s all about. We all want little tokens of love.

How do you deal with feeling jealous of someone else’s relationship?

Allow the envy. We all feel jealous of another person at times, it’s normal. Just as we all feel joy, anger or sadness. Behind this there is always a personal need that is currently being met or not. This is exactly where envy points: We want a relationship and long for everything that we associate with it. It can happen that we project more into a relationship than it can actually fulfill. Our thoughts then sound like this: “The longed-for partner will make us happier, braver, more successful, more self-confident, more active”, all of that. When we look at couples around us with this idea, we assume that has already fulfilled this dream for everyone else and that can hurt a lot. It is therefore important not only to allow envy, but also to listen to it carefully. This makes it clear to us what we are currently missing and we are given a specific mandate to take care of it. Because we should rather not wait for the right one or the right one. On the one hand, this can take a long time, so it makes us dependent, and on the other hand, it can simply disappoint us. Dream relationships are a bit of a mirage. If you get too close, they vanish into thin air. So better take care of the fulfillment of your own desires and start being a respectful and loving partner to yourself.

Of course, many single people feel lonely on other days of the year as well, and generally spend more time alone than people in relationships. How do you transform the feeling of loneliness into a conscious “I like spending time with myself”?

As a single you have the opportunity to live the relationship with yourself very intensively. On the one hand, this can be very exciting and enriching, because it gives us the opportunity to get to know each other better. But of course it can also feel very lonely. I recommend to pay attention to whether there are differences in everyday life. When is the feeling stronger and when is it less strong? In this way we can better understand what is good for us and give it to us more often. Valuable routines can develop over time. We are growing, becoming bolder and taking it for granted that we are our own best society.

Turning the feeling of loneliness into something positive is not the only option. We can also consciously seek community, improve family relationships, maintain contact with friends and colleagues, and open up completely new communities. So maybe push the longed-for couple relationship very gently and gradually off its pedestal and reassess the value of the many other good relationships in our lives.

Spot on News spoke to Hanne Horvath