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Alone This Valentine's Day?
By Susan Dunn

Valentine's Day can range from annoying to dreadful when you aren't paired, so let's put a new spin on this!

You probably feel sorry for yourself because you're the Only One who's alone, but if you're alone you're NOT alone. According to the American Association for Single people, 82 million men and women in the United States are unmarried.

If you define adults as those over 18, 44% of US adults are single. By 2010, it should be 47.2%. That's getting very close to half. What will we do then? Rename the holiday? Abolish it? Or will those of us who are single rise up and demand our OWN holiday? An UNValentine's Day??

Holidays DO disappear, you know. When I was young, we celebrated May Day. Honestly, you bought Hallmark paper basket kits, you assembled them, you filled them with fresh flowers and placed them on your neighbors' doorsteps.

I am not making this up.

But I am digressing.

Back to my point. A LOT of us are single, so you AREN'T alone if you're alone on Valentine 's Day. If that doesn't make you feel better, try these things, which will be just a little tongue in cheek, because I want to ramp you out of your position of feeling sorry for yourself.

I've tried most of these, BTW, having been single longer than some of you have been alive, and they work!

This is the old - if you can't change IT, change your FEELINGS toward it.


How could we not mention F-R-E-U-D on the national ^romantic^ holiday? Remember Freud's "defense mechanisms"? A common misconception is that they're all "bad," but actually we need our defense mechanisms. They're helpful! We need our defense mechanisms to:

  1. Minimize anxiety 
  2. Protect the ego 
  3. Maintain repression 
    a. It prevents discomfort 
    b. It leads to some economy of time and effort

I'm sure you're with me now that if you plan to, um, GET THROUGH VALENTINE'S DAY AS A SINGLE, a defense mechanism or 10 might come in handy.

So here we go.


1. Affiliation: Dealing with emotional conflict and stressors (hereinafter referred to as "it") by turning to others for help or support. Valentine Application (VA): This is a great defense! Call your coach! Commiserate with friends. Talk to your sweet Mom.

2. Aim Inhibition: Limiting ^instinctual demands^, accepting partial fulfillment. VA: Invite a platonic boyfriend out for Valentine's Day and pretend it's all you really wanted. Who needs mad, passionate sex when you can talk about QuikBooks for three hours at Chili's, right?

3. Altruism: Deal with it by meeting the needs of others. VA: Do as I've done. Choose someone to shower with your affection - a grand-daughter works! Go out and buy all the things you'd want yourself - perfume, flowers, fluffy pink sweater, do it up big! Wrap 'em up, carry them over there, take her out and wine and dine her and savor! Feels great!

4. Anticipation: Deal with it by experiencing emotional reactions in advance of possible future events and considering realistic alternative responses or solutions. VA: Well, that's what we're doing here. We're circumventing a lousy Valentine's Day, and making our plans otherwise. How cool is that?

5. Avoidance: Deal with it by refusal to encounter situations because they represent ^unconscious sexual or aggressive impulses^. VA: Well, that would be Valentine's Day. You could cancel your own personal one.

6. Compensation: Encountering failure in one sphere of activity (like love life?), you over-emphasize another. VA: Let's do a clean-the-house marathon, or workout for 5 hours after work Friday.

7. Self-assertion: Expressing feelings and thoughts directly, non-manipulatively. VA: Go for it! Ask that cute new HR director out.

8. Sublimation: Attenuating the force of an ^instinctual drive^ by using the energy in other, constructive activities. VA: So, we work late Valentine's Day, finishing up a primo project, or go home and write poetry or paint. Good idea?

9. Intellectualization: Deal with it by excessive use of abstract thinking or making generalizations to minimize disturbing feelings. VA: We could talk about how nearly half the other adults in the US are also single, and it ain't so bad. Anyway it's not bothering ME. How about that?


1. Conversion: Turn it into a physical symptom "involving portions of the body innervated by sensory or motor nerves." VA: No getting of paralyzed arms because you'd really like to sock your ex.

2. Deflection: Redirecting attention to someone else. VA: Don't need to talk about "Loser-boy Tom." We can deal with our own stuff!

3. Identification: Unconscious modeling of one's self upon another person. VA: Sandra's got a great husband and she's going to Quebec for Valentine's weekend, but that doesn't mean we have to dress and talk like her all week without ^being aware of it^.

4. Displacement: Change in the object by which the ^instinctual drive^ is to be satisfied. VA: Having been abandoned by your boyfriend, resist all urges to vent your anger on your room-mate! Keep your people and your emotions straight, ok?

5. Help-Rejecting Complaining: Requesting help and then rejecting it. VA: (I think that's whining, and playing the victim, don't you?)

6. Acting Out: Dealing with it by actions rather than reflections of feelings. VA: Don't get crabby and kick the dog, or go out and get drunk.

7. Projection: Attributing one's thoughts or impulses to another person. VA: No, your mother isn't mad at YOU, YOU'RE mad at your GIRLFRIEND. Keeping people and feelings straight again.

8. Regression: Suffering the loss of some of the development already attained and reverting to lower level of adaptation and expression. VA: None of that!

9. Autistic Fantasy: Deal with it by excessive daydreaming as a substitute for human relationships, more effective action, or problem solving. VA: This is why we all hate Freud!!

Defense mechanism definitions from: http://www.coldbacon.com

P.S. Work in an office? Send yourSELF flowers. Like half those other girls aren't doing that?

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, is a professional coach specializing in emotional intelligence, and marketing on the Internet. She is the author of numerous ebooks including Marketing Secrets of the Pros and Writing for the Internet and has EQ products for licensing. She is widely published on the Internet, and a regular speaker for cruise lines.

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