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Who needs Valentine’s Day after years of social distancing has ramped up the pressure to pack so much love into one Tuesday in February?
This is the perfect year to lean into a less pressure-filled holiday. It’s time to embrace Galentine’s Day.
Born from the ancient, mystic sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” the “Galentine’s Day” episode first aired on February 11, 2010. It features Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie, as she navigates her way through a day of love-life disappointments — in trying to set up her mother on what turns out to be a bad date and dealing with her own partner’s rude behavior. She rebels against the traditional slog of Valentine’s Day and invents a day to rejoice with her girlfriends and celebrate herself.
You may be one of the more than one-third of US women who aren’t partnered up. Or if you are, maybe you’re tired of being with your significant other 24/7 for the past year and would rather pretend you’re single.
Galentine’s Day, which falls on the day before Valentine’s Day, is for you.
The tradition, which has grown from a one-off TV stint to a commercially viable and widely practiced holiday, typically includes brunching with your gal pals. A copious amount of booze is generally encouraged.
Be good to yourself
Whether you are imbibing with your girlies in-person or remotely, trying to get a minute to yourself in a full house, or rocking it solo at this Valentine’s Day, it’s not a bad idea to turn inward after such a challenging few years and direct some love and tender care at yourself.
“Loving yourself is the single most important element of having a healthy relationship,” said New York metro-based dating and relationship expert Rachel DeAlto. “Start looking at who in your life isn’t lifting you up. Of course, self-love is an inside job, but so often we let those around us affect our confidence and feelings of self-worth.”
It may be hard to love yourself on command, but you can start by imagining yourself as a separate person, according to Lauren Cook, a Los Angeles-based clinical psychologist, speaker and author.
“Just as you may give another person a Valentine’s day gift, write a heartfelt card, or spend quality time together, take these practices inward,” she said via email. “We often do not treat ourselves as well as we treat others and Valentine’s Day is a prime opportunity to actually think about how we can practice self-love and self-compassion.”
To love yourself more truly and deeply, it helps to try to unpack all those layers of social conditioning that were piled on us over a lifetime, and which strip away our ability to just love ourselves for who we are, without the judgment and doubt and self-consciousness.
“Recognize that you were born loving yourself. Babies know they are fierce and beautiful, they don’t need validation for that,” said New York-based family and relationship therapist Damon L. Jacobs.
To deepen your self-love, according to Jacobs, learn who you are by spending quality time by yourself and participating in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment and deepen reflection. And there’s a silver lining. “Once you’re nurturing attention and energy toward yourself on those levels, you literally become an attractive magnet for others,” he said.
Practice “unlearning” by actively focusing on your positive attributes and not the negative ones, which we so often get stuck on. That will help to retrain your brain to lean into your kinder thoughts about yourself and encourage deeper self-appreciation.
Plus, there is what Jacobs refers to as focusing on that which is “evidence-based,” or what others might consider perspective.
“If you survived 2020, you did at least 4,380 things well (that’s 12 good things each day). Allow your feelings about yourself to be determined by the evidence of your life, not the skewed opinions of your critical voice,” Jacobs said.
Focus on the good things you experienced, the good deeds you committed, the ways in which you helped others.
“If you want to feel love, then do loving things,” he said.
In a world that can sometimes feel sorely lacking in love and loving-kindness, there’s no better advice than that.
Allison Hope is a writer and native New Yorker who favors humor over sadness, travel over television, and coffee over sleep. This story was first published in 2021 and has been updated.