Here’s how to beat the hype and overcome loneliness on Valentine’s Day


NEW YORK (AP) — Ellis Plessis hasn’t been in a long-term relationship for 26 years. This is by her choice, yet she still faces FOMO when Valentine’s Day comes.

“I’m alone in my family and friend group,” said Plessis, 53, who lives in Manitoba, Canada. “Valentine’s Day makes me feel depressed, like a loser who can’t find someone who wants me.”

But she won’t sit at home cursing her fate after getting tired of the “toxic” hookup culture. Instead, Plessis plans to do what loneliness researchers and psychologists recommend: She’ll help others as a way to get out of her own head.

In her case, she will help others find love. She became a certified matchmaker last year and has organized a speed-dating event before Valentine’s Day.

“I guess if I can’t find love, it’s the least I can do,” Plessis said.

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Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that haters call “forced”, commercialized and extremely expensive to celebrate if expectations are to be met. This year, the day of romance has evolved into a celebration of love and friendship all around. First issued by the US Surgeon General Public health advice last spring Declaring loneliness and isolation an “epidemic” with serious consequences.

The country’s top public health watchdog Dr. Vivek Murthy warned that widespread Loneliness This poses as deadly a health risk as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. He said that this causes billions of dollars in losses to the health industry every year.

Nearly half of American adults say they have experienced loneliness, he said. The problem has persisted since long before the pandemic, becoming worse in recent years.

“It’s like hunger or thirst. It’s a feeling the body sends us when something we need to survive disappears,” Murthy told The Associated Press at the time. “Millions of people in America are struggling in the shadows, and that’s not right.”

Like Valentine’s Day, loneliness has become big business, with books offering self-help and data. This season for dating apps and websites is unpredictable for users looking to stay emotionally intact.

Try a change in perspective

David Sbarra, a psychology professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson, studies loneliness and social isolation. He’s among the data crunchers who believe the idea of ​​loneliness as a deadly epidemic is slightly exaggerated. But she’s confident about where Valentine’s Day can take people who have been alone for a long time.

“You could make a very clear argument that it increases the experience of psychological distress in people who are already lonely,” he said.

“So a simple way of saying this would be that people are noticing and monitoring themselves becoming socially isolated rather than shifting their perception toward opportunities to reconnect and then pursuing them. Who can I go out with? What can I do? How can I serve others? Who can I message, call? This is very important,” Sbarra said.

These are the things Tori Mattei, 27, in New York, has discovered on her own over the past four years of loneliness. She has been dating since two consecutive long-term relationships ended.

“Since I’ve been single for a while, I feel like I set myself a goal of going on a certain number of dates, so that I still feel like I can do it and not feel awkward or nervous Is,” he said. “I’ve been on many first dates over the years. There aren’t a lot of second dates.”

Valentine’s Day was a big deal for her relationships. Sometimes it was a comfortable night. There were usually gifts of flowers, perfume or jewellery.

“I definitely felt appreciated,” Mattei said.

She lives alone in Manhattan, with many of her friends living with her roommates. Many of his friends are in relationships.

“At certain times, I like to be alone and enjoy the peace. But on days like Valentine’s Day or even things like the Super Bowl, I have to make a little extra effort to not feel lonely,” Mattei said. “I have to make sure I make plans for myself. It’s just a sad day when you feel so alone that it feels like you’re always alone.”

Look for real life connections

Mattei doesn’t consider herself a Valentine’s Day hater.

“I dislike the pressure to make it romantic, when really, if someone gave me a rose on the street, that would make my day. Like, that’s all we need,” she said.

Her best advice for celebrating Valentine’s Day is as sweet as the sweet conversation hearts that circulate this time of year.

“Show someone love. I love giving gifts to other people, making them smile. And if you can’t think of someone you want to show love to, show love to yourself. Buy yourself candy. I often buy flowers for myself. I love the way they look. I don’t care if I bought them for myself,” Mattei said.

“I think the science is absolutely clear that loneliness increases the risk of early mortality,” said Nobel, who teaches a course at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health to help medical students better recognize loneliness in patients. “

let your creative juices flow

“Loneliness is subjective,” Nobel said — it’s the difference between the social relationships you want to have and the ones you have. “Valentine’s Day, it’s a time to celebrate love and connection, which is fantastic until you don’t have that connection.”

Kelly Miller, a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, works with couples and individuals and has written “Love Hacks: Simple Solutions for the Most Common Relationship Issues.” Valentine’s Day is a common excitement among their customers. If you don’t have the love you want, turn inward to seek joy, she urges.

“Take yourself to the theatre. Take yourself to dinner. I know a lot of people don’t want to eat alone, but sometimes being around other humans can help.”

Copyright 2024 The associated Press, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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