For singles without a partner, there are few days in the year more annoying than Valentine’s Day. Amidst all the Super bowl propaganda, heart-shaped merchandise abounds, from boutique shops to the check-out area of Walgreens. For singles, feelings of frustration, anger and envy are not uncommon.
If you have suffered a recent break-up, things can seem even worse. Memories of your past relationship often trigger many thoughts, bringing about sadness and a sense of loss.
So what’s a Catholic single to do?
It would be presumptuous of me to offer a blanketed, standard advice to all. Each person – and their circumstances – is too complex. That said, I can offer some suggestions, framed as dos and don’ts.
1. Allow yourself some time to feel sad; it’s a normal reaction. Give yourself a set period of time (crying if needed) and attempt to move on in your day.
2. Remember that while the day is triggering a lot of memories, it’s only one day. Focus on preparing yourself now for a future relationship. Get out of the past!
3. Examine the past relationship fairly without overly blaming yourself or the other. If there was something you’ve done that would inhibit future relationships, commit to correcting your faults.
4. Journal. Getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper can be quite therapeutic; just keep this time-limited as well. If thoughts of your ex are overwhelming, write him/her a letter expressing your feelings. (Just don’t send it!)
5. Spiritually reconnect. Our Lord is always waiting for us to bring our troubles to him. If you feel especially alone, weak or unloved, let His love fill your heart. As hard as it is, this is also opportunity to truly place your trust in God.
6. Find someone in your life you love and take the time to demonstrate that to them today.
1. Feel sorry for yourself. Self pity will steer you down the wrong path and contribute to depressive feelings.
2. Resort to old habits. Sadness and emptiness can often lead to self-soothing behaviors, many of which can be destructive. If you soothe yourself, be sure it is in a healthy manner that adds to your growth.
3. Call that ex. You may be tempted to contact an old partner you know will respond. Refrain from doing so, remembering it is selfish and quite unfair to them.
4. Hibernate. While you may want to be left completely alone, this is rarely helpful. (If you do isolate, promise yourself you will not allow it to carry over into the next day.)
5. Beat yourself up. Resist dwelling on your own misgivings. As mentioned, relationships end for a number of reasons; not because of something you did.
6. Blame God. This is more common than one may think, ranging from being angry at God for your singleness to frustration with Him for allowing such “unfairness” in your life.
7. Give up. Whatever you do, stay hopeful and positive. Yes this can require great patience, but as the saying goes, “good things come for those who wait.”