A Smarter Approach to Valentine’s Day

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Bela Gandhi is the Founder and President of Smart Dating Academy, and was a speaker at Chicago Ideas Week 2016.

Valentine’s Day is one of those ‘holidays’ that people typically love or hate. If you’re single, seeing the “Be Mine!” signs held up by Cupid can rub salt into your solo wounds. If you’re part of a couple, you may feel jaded – that it is just another Hallmark holiday, and boycott it out of principal. I’m here as your psychotically optimistic “Fairy Godmother” to help transform this day into one you love—even if you hate it.

If you’re single:

1) Know that, per the U.S. Census, approximately 43 percent of the American adult population is single, and that you are far from the last single person left on Earth (even though it feels that way sometimes). Almost one in two adults are single—so breathe a sigh and know that you’re in excellent company, nationally. Your other half is most certainly out there, and the odds are in your favor!

2) Understand that 50 percent of marriages end up in divorce, and there are an estimated additional 10 to 15 percent of couples that permanently separate. That’s almost two out of three couples that don’t stand the test of time. So, if you’re feeling sorry about your single-hood, just call an unhappily married friend to put your amazing single life into perspective. You don’t need permission to take a great trip, have a boys/girls night out or for anything for that matter.

3) Go a little luxe. Do that one thing that you love to do for yourself that is a little luxury. Maybe it’s a barbershop shave, maybe it’s a new pair of kicks you’ve been eyeing. Buying something ‘a little more luxe’ than you normally spring for will make you smile.

4) Hit the gym. We produce more internal happy juice when we work out. Beta endorphins flow high when we’re exercising, and there’s nothing like the ‘high’ of a great cardio workout to beat the blues. Put together an amazing playlist—or look for a new one online—to put a little more spring in your step. Also, you’re getting just a bit closer to that beach body every time you hit the gym.

5) Hang with your pals. Call your single friends that are fun (leave the Debbie Downers at home), and head out for the night. Maybe treat yourselves to a beautiful steak dinner, or head to a sports bar to catch a game (no couples are going to be hanging out in a sports bar, so it’s guaranteed to be full of fun singles). Or, champion a game night at your place that could include a karaoke contest, Yahtzee, Trivial Pursuit or even something on Play Station. Your friends will have a blast, and thank you for a wonderful night.

If You’re in a Relationship:

1) Look at Valentine’s Day as a day of “Partner Appreciation & Love” instead of a retail opportunity. Embrace the red and pink around you, and make it a day to write a list of the “Top 10 Things I Love About My Partner” day. I gave my husband a list like this, and he cherishes it. It can be full of the little things he does–one of my top five favorites about him was that he brings me a hot cup of coffee in bed every morning as I scroll through my emails.

2) Reminisce about your best shared memories, how you met and amazing times that you’ve had together. Try making a list of new memories you want to create together. Maybe it’s new places to visit, restaurants to try—anything that makes you happy.

3) If you really want to get into the “V-Day” spirit, but are on a budget, take a frozen pizza and cut it into a heart, or organize a plate of fruit for dessert (drizzled in chocolate) in the shape of a heart. I do this for my kids, and it puts a smile on their faces every single year!

I hope these tips have convinced you to experience the day in a new light, and would love to hear about what you did for Valentine’s Day that put a smile on your face 🙂

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