Get the most out of being single on Valentine’s Day

As Valentine’s Day approaches, your relationship status might be on your mind.

When you’re single, commercials, signs, and bright red hearts in every store can start to feel like pressure to be in a relationship even for those who are otherwise comfortable with their status.

If you’re in this boat, consider the upsides of being single this Valentine’s Day.

First, the holiday can be pretty stressful when you’re in a relationship.

A Match.com survey showed that Valentine’s Day is the second-most stressful holiday of the year for couples, after Christmas.

Part of the stress is around gift-giving, which is treacherous waters for couples[1,2]. Some people take offense at certain gifts, like lingerie or flowers[1]. And, in one study, 53 percent of women said they would break up with a partner who didn’t give them a Valentine’s Day gift[1].

In fact, Facebook status updates show that the 4-week period after February 14 is one of the heaviest times of the year for break-ups[2].

For some couples, this holiday may serve as a way to celebrate love and commitment. But for others, it seems, the holiday is a kind of test, where failing can have serious consequences for the relationship.

Second, aside from escaping Valentine’s Day stress and expenses, being single allows you to do things you might not otherwise be able to.

Studies show that relative to those who are married, single people talk to their parents more[3] and spend more evenings with friends[3,4]. They also show greater autonomy, personal growth, self-determination[5], and a sense of identity[6].

In one study of more than 4,000 continuously single or married individuals, single people were more likely to agree with statements like, “For me, life has been a continuous process of learning, changing, and growth.” Married people were more likely to say that they “gave up trying to make big improvements or changes in my life a long time ago”[5].

What matters is how you approach singlehood. Those who approach it feeling empowered maintain a positive sense of self and lead a fulfilling life. Those who approach it with fear tend to experience anxiety and stress, and are likely to settle for less in relationships[7,8].

So to get the most out of this Valentine’s Day, start by remembering that you may be the lucky one.

Then, do something to take advantage of the real benefits of being single—something to catalyze personal growth, propel you towards your goals, or give you a deeper sense of identity. Or, just have a great time with your friends.

R?eferences

1. PRNewswire, (2003). Single Women Surveyed on Match.com Say No Gift is a No-No for Valentine’s Day.
2. McCandless, D. & Byron, L. (2008). Peak Break-up Times: According to Facebook Status Updates. informationisbeautiful.net.
3. Musick, K., & Bumpass, L. (2012). Reexamining the case for marriage: Union formation and changes in well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74, 1-18.
4. Cornwell, E.Y., Waite, L.J. (2009). Measuring social isolation among older adults using multiple indicators from the NSHAP study. The Journals of Gerontology Series B, 64B, i38-i46.
5. Marks, N.F., & Lambert, J.D. (1998). Marital status continuity and change among young and midlife adults longitudinal effects on psychological well-being. Journal of Family Issues, 19, 652-686.
6. Loughlin, A. (2014). Relationship status and its effect on interpersonal relationships, self-identity and life satisfaction.
7. Spielmann, S. S., MacDonald, G., Maxwell, J. A., Joel, S., Peragine, D., Muise, A., & Impett, E. A. (2013). Settling for less out of fear of being single. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 1049.
8. Spielmann, S.S., MacDonald, G., Joel, S. and Impett, E.A. (2016), Longing for Ex-Partners out of Fear of Being Single. Journal of Personality, 84, 799–808.