There’s nothing like a holiday obsessed with romantic love to turn Feb. 14 into chocolate-covered misery for even the happiest of singles.
It can make people feel as if they're the only ones in the world not coupled up. But if you’re spending Valentine’s Day by yourself, know that you’re not alone.
First, the holiday seems to have lost its oomph for everyone: A decade ago, about two-thirds of adults planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but that number has dropped to about half today, according to the National Retail Federation. When it recently asked people why they skipped the holiday, most said they considered it overcommercialized, didn’t have anyone to celebrate with or just weren’t interested anymore.
Lane Moore, a comedian, musician, creator of “Tinder Live” and author of “How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don't” can relate.
“I love pink and hearts and glitter, but the pressure to be with the perfect someone and to display how much you're loved by them — I don’t think is super healthy,” Moore told TODAY.
She spends Valentine's Day performing her comedy show, “so I'm doing something that makes me and other people happy, and it has nothing to do with what another person does for me and everything to do with what I do for myself.”
Americans are lonelier than ever
Being alone is a big part of life for Moore: She has a family, but there hasn’t been much love and closeness, she writes in her book — a project that was “painful to write and painful to talk about.” Moore was forced her to become her own support system to the point where she now dreads filling out medical forms at a doctor’s office, because she doesn’t have anyone to list as an emergency contact.
She has lots of company.
Almost half of Americans — 46 percent — say they sometimes or always feel alone, according to a survey of more than 20,000 U.S. adults released last year by Cigna. One in five say they rarely feel close to people and a quarter never feel there are people who really understand them.
When trying to find a romantic partner, many find online dating frustrating and bleak, just like Moore does.
“I have a ton of friends who met their husbands and wives online and that's so great. But for a lot of us, and even for them before they found their person, dating apps were absolutely frustrating and seem hopeless because it really takes a toll on you,” Moore said.
“It's just too many people and many of them don't reply, or don’t fill out profiles, or don’t put much effort in. It's more options, but less somehow.”
Some studies suggest 20- and 30-somethings are experiencing a “sex recession” and are on track to have fewer sexual partners than previous generations.
How to spend Valentine’s Day alone
You might start by treating yourself with kindness and respect on Feb. 13, International Self Love Day. Banish the negative self-talk and focus on self-compassion. Studies have found lifelong singles are more optimistic, experience more personal growth and enjoy more autonomy than other people, according to Psychology Today.
Moore’s advice to anyone feeling particularly alone or lonely on Feb. 14 is to spend Valentine’s Day with your favorite TV show, a book you love, your best friend, your pet — “anyone who makes you feel cute and loved and special.” It doesn't have to be the perfect romantic partner, she said.
“My favorite Valentine's Days have been the ones I've given myself, because it's just a lot of pressure to rely on another person to make you perfectly happy on this one specific day,” Moore said.
Last year, Moore adopted a rescue dog named Lights, and when she was asked to choose a birthday for her furry companion, Valentine’s Day was the first date she thought of.
“So I'm going to celebrate with her, which is perfect for me, because I love her more than I've ever loved anyone, and she makes me feel more loved than anyone else ever has. That's the spirit of the holiday, really, love.”