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The Zen of Valentine’s Day


Whether you’re single or coupled, the right frame of mind will help get you on the right track. Here’s how to change your attitude for the better!

By Mackenzie Dawson

uick—what’s your first response when you read the words Valentine’s Day? Be honest. Do phrases like “poke yourself with a sharp stick” come to mind? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, “most amazing day ever”?

Whether you dislike Valentine’s Day or expect the world of it, you’ve got a little work to do. Here’s why: Most of life isn’t about the situations you find yourself in. Rather, it’s about how you react to those situations. And while a negative attitude can ruin any holiday, from Thanksgiving to Labor Day,
Celebrate how close your gang is.
unreasonably high expectations can also sink Cupid’s special day. Instead, try cultivating a certain kind of mood—a Zen state of Valentine, if you will. Play your cards right, and you might just find that this Zen carries over into all the other days of the year, making it easier to generate a great mood and fun times out of most any situation.

So read on—whatever your romantic situation, here’s a quick fix to get you in the right frame of mind.

Your state: You’re single, with a capital S. Not a man on the horizon—heck, you don’t even have a good office crush going.

Your special type of Zen: Being single on Valentine’s Day is no picnic. That’s why you’ve got to think of it as an opportunity. If you’ve long opted out of the dating game, consider mixing it up a bit. Online dating sites are a great way to dip your toes into the love pool; strike up an e-conversation with a cute suitor, chat and generally get your flirt on. We’re not suggesting you set up a date for Valentine’s Day itself—hello, pressure! Just see who’s out there and get yourself thinking about romance. When you’re in this frame of mind, you’re open—and like a radio, you’re sending out signals to the rest of the world that you’re ready to receive love. This is a good thing!

What to do: On the day itself, round up your other single girlfriends and plan a night of fun, whether it involves going to see a cheesy movie or staying in for a girls’ night of DIY pedicures. Remember, Valentine’s Day is about love—all kinds of love. Your friends are there for you, so celebrate how close your gang is.

Your state: You’re in a new relationship.

Your type of Zen: When you’ve only been dating for a few months, you’re still getting to know each other. Don’t put all your expectations on this one day; instead, keep the emphasis on low-key fun and getting to know each other better.

What to do: Don’t leave it all up to him. Your new guy might be looking for cues from you as to what you want to do, so throw out some suggestions of your own. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. If you’re thinking that bowling sounds awesome but
Now’s the time to revel in your individuality.
wonder whether it’s appropriate for Cupid’s Day, throw tradition to the wind and get ready to don the rink’s retro rental shoes. He will love you for it.

Your state: You are newly divorced. You’re having a hard enough time keeping it all together on a normal day. Valentine’s Day? No, thank you.

Your type of Zen: Understand that as bleak as things might seem now, this is a temporary state you’re in. Try to visualize your life a year from now. What would you like to be different? Think about it, and write some of these things down. Trust us, in 12 months, you’ll be surprised by how far you’ve come. Think of Valentine’s Day as your own personal source of empowerment. You’re strong, you’re healing—and you will love and be loved again. There’s nothing more heartening than that.

What to do: If you’re thinking you’ll just stay in and sob while you flip through your wedding albums, think again. Instead, write down a few things that always make you feel good, and then go out and do them! Whether you hang out with a close guy friend or laze around with your girlfriends, don’t put pressure on yourself. Your goal is to surround yourself with people you love and who support you.

Your state: You and your boyfriend just broke up.

Your type of Zen: OK, so last year at this time you were with your boyfriend. This year, why not spend some time getting to know a new person who’s pretty awesome: you. Relationships are great, but sometimes when you’re in one, you can get so caught up in compromise that your own tastes get lost in the shuffle. Now’s the time to revel in your individuality. You can do anything you want to do.

What to do: Order your favorite takeout, download some new songs, open a bottle of wine, and make a list of things about your last relationship you weren’t crazy about as well as qualities you want in your next relationship. This exercise isn’t about trashing your ex; it’s about getting you focused on what you want from romance. Next, write down five things you’d like to do in the next year—whether it’s a taking a rock-climbing class or finally learning to order paella in Spanish. Who knows? While you’re pursuing some of your new interests, you might meet someone with whom you have a lot in common.

Your state: You’re waiting for an engagement ring.

Your type of Zen: Slow down there, missy! While there’s plenty of time to have the “why aren’t we engaged yet?” talk, Valentine’s Day isn’t the time to do it. Instead, take a few breaths and focus on what you love about your man—and how much fun things used to be before everything got so serious. Take some time to focus on this before you meet him, and see if you can’t recapture the easy-breezy spirit of your relationship when it was fresh.

What to do: Take his lead on making plans. But whatever you end up doing, for goodness’ sake, don’t sit there looking like you expect an engagement ring to leap out of every dish or Champagne flute!


Mackenzie Dawson is the deputy features editor at the New York Post. She lives in New York.
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