Does that even count the cost of a new little red something to slip into, having nails done and brows waxed, the hours you spent debating in the card aisle? All that time and money counts for something.
Single mom Clare Yeakel embraces the low-cost, no-maintenance chance to curl up at home. "I stay in, ignore it, appreciate the fact I'm not at some packed restaurant," she says, "and sometimes buy myself something to celebrate the fact that my life is pretty freaking great even without a significant other." Also on your tally? Be sure to have a line item for the emotional cost of being in a relationship that is unfulfilling, unhappy or just not enough for fabulous you. That adds up, as does being miserable or feeling alone while on a date. Thank goodness that sad budget's been cut.
5. Make a list of the love you have. That empty feeling only gets deeper and wider if you tell yourself over and over that the love has left your life. Replacing that message with reminders of what is good and plentiful and happy will help — slowly, slowly — heal the wounds. Noticing and acknowledging the awesomeness in your life will only make you see more of it. It sounds life-coachy, but it works — like when you buy a white car and suddenly you realize how many white cars share the road with you.
First, adamantly choose to see the day as something other than a drag, a bad reminder, a time to drown sorrows. Here's how Maggie Litgen, a social worker, yogi and student, does it. "I love celebrating Valentines Day single," she affirms. "I focus on all sources of love in my life, which are very plentiful. It is very meaningful this way. It lacks cliches and expectations, as well as empty gestures."
Litgen has opted to attend V-Day events and pass our condoms to promote safer sex to honor the day. (For more info on V-Day events to help end violence against women, click here.) "So yeah, when it's just a day with a boy," she admits, "it just doesn't seem that great." Don't have the activist leanings that Litgen does? Go Oprah-style and make a gratitude list. You will have twenty in no time at all.
Next make a list of all the reasons you are awesome. I learned this tip from author Marina Sbrochi, who says we spend way too much time criticizing ourselves and need more opportunities to recognize our own beautiful ways. I agree. Put down the self-negativity and boast about how quickly you can hammer out a crossword, your kickass bolognese, the delicious curve of your own backside.
See? You have love enough. You are love enough. Feeling that is the best gift you can give yourself. On Valentines Day and every day that follows.
Jessica Ashley is Senior Editor, Love, Parenting & Health at GalTime.com and single mama of a Lego-loving Star Wars-fanatic kid. She wears inappropriately high heels to the playground and is author of the blog Sassafrass, named one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Blogs for 2011 and 2012.