The other day, my hairdresser mentioned to me that he's not looking forward to February. The reason was that as Valentine's Day approaches, many of his single female customers are, in his words, "totally freaking out" about not having a date for the night.
My hairdresser works in a nice salon. Most of his clients are attractive, successful women. A lot of the single ones, it seems, are having a hard time coping with being unattached on the one day of the year devoted to love.
It reminds me a bit of New Year's Eve, during which many of us put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves to have the most exciting celebrations with the largest group of friends. In both cases, I think that we're trying too hard to prove something to ourselves or to the other people in our lives, and that can never end well.
A recent study by Sebastian Deri, a Cornell University psychology PhD candidate, demonstrated that although we usually consider ourselves superior in most categories, when it comes to our relationships, we assume that we're less successful than the other people in our lives.
This tendency to compare ourselves negatively can have a major impact on our self-esteem when holidays come around, especially on Valentine's Day.
We imagine that everyone else is in a loving, committed relationship, or at least that they're out there, having a ton of fun dating, while we're alone in front of the TV in our fuzzy slippers ploughing through a tub of Haagen Dazs.
The single women at my hairdresser's must be mortified they're the "only one" in their social circle who's "a failure" at finding a mate. But that's not really the case.
You're not single because of any inadequacies or shortcomings within you.
Sure, it's great to meet that special someone and have their love and support day in and day out, but that isn't always possible, especially in this age of increasing isolation and alienation.
These days, a lot of us might be spending more of our time unattached than in a committed relationship, and for those people who find themselves alone on Valentine's Day, I offer up a few suggestions.
Being single is not a disease
It doesn't help if you put yourself down for not having a date on this night. You're not a "loser" or a "failure" if you haven't found love.
You're not single because of any inadequacies or shortcomings within you. Often, finding that special someone is just the luck of the draw. Instead of beating yourself up for being unattached, try to put things in perspective. Think about all the good things you have in your life and be grateful for those.
There's no substitute for self-love
When you nurture yourself, you feel fulfilled. Sure, you might still want a partner, but at least you won't feel like you desperately need one. And when you're filled with self-love, you'll be walking around feeling complete.
With self-love, you won't feel the burning need for someone else to compensate for the lack of love in your life. If you do meet someone, your relationship will be based on caring and sharing, rather than needing the other person to fill a void inside you.
Being desperate always backfires
Desperation makes you jump at the first person you see, rather than waiting for the right person to come along. Love, even a real connection, isn't something you can force.
You may or may not someday find the love of your life, but it won't happen by trying too hard. Live your best life and be your best self, and if the person of your dreams is out there, they may very well find you.
Say no to self-pity, yes to being proactive
You don't have to be desperate, but you can make yourself more available. Get out there and join a club, take a class or connect with a social group.
Participate in sports or community activities. Get involved with things that you feel passionate about, and over time, you're likely to make some new friends; maybe even meet someone nice.
Meanwhile, feed your soul
Get out into nature and communicate with the universe. Take part in spiritual or religious services. Meditate, do yoga, practise mindfulness. Any of these will help you to feel happy and fulfilled, whether or not you find love by Valentine's Day.
Rediscover the artist within you
We were all creative as kids; it's just that some of us forgot how great it is to create. Doing art of any type is going to be incredibly uplifting and meaningful. Art is something that you can do just for yourself.
Being creative is empowering because doing art makes you happy. And if you gain some mastery, other people will likely want to write, dance or play music with you. Creative collaborations may or may not lead to love, but they're fantastically fun.
Value your friends and family
You have people in your life, right now, who love and accept you unconditionally, and who'll be there for you whenever you need them.
You may not have a romantic partner, but you do have love in your life. Be grateful for these relationships and put energy into keeping them strong, and you'll feel a lot less lonely on Valentine's Day.
Giving love fills you with love
Being a kind, caring, generous person will bring you fulfillment and a deeper sense of connection with others. Altruism is extremely rewarding.
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Studies have shown how the happiest people are the ones who are the most generous. You may or may not find your soulmate while you're out there giving to others, but your life will be rich and filled with joy and meaning.
Valentine's Day comes once a year. Whether or not you have a date that night, you can have plenty of love, fun and fulfillment throughout the year. Follow the above suggestions and you'll never have to worry about Valentine's Day again.
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