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The Daily Tar Heel

Single students find ways to celebrate love beyond romance for Valentine's Day


DTH Photo Illustration. A single student practices self care on Valentine's Day.

Single students are preparing for Valentine’s Day despite feelings of being left out. Here's how students are remaining positive, choosing to appreciate loved ones and prioritizing self-care on the holiday.

Valentine’s celebrations — whether they be the countless heart-shaped decorations, exchanging gifts or going on dates — usually include public displays of affection. As a result, single students have mixed feelings about the holiday. 

“It definitely makes it worse seeing many people happy and in love," first-year student Bob Dang said. "You’re happy for them, but you also want the same love and relationship.” 

One way those without a significant other cope with Valentine’s Day is by ignoring the day completely. 

“Usually I just forget about Valentine’s Day 'til it just rolls up,” junior Peitra Knight said. “And then I’m like, ‘Oh man Valentine’s Day? Darn, I’m gonna be seeing all the hearts and roses commercials and stuff everywhere.’”

She said if it falls on a school day, as it often does, then she goes about her day as she would any other.

“If it’s on the weekend then normally what I would do is play a few games, chat with my friends, spend some time putting stuff together — be it origami or other arts and crafts projects — or eating candy by myself,” Knight said. “If you don’t have anyone to spend time with, then just take care of yourself.” 

Other single students, like first-year Riley Pingree, look forward to the holiday. 

“I’m a hopeless romantic so I love to see other people in love,” she said. "True love is so pure and cute and I know one day I’m gonna eventually celebrate it.”

She also plans on prioritizing self-care. This includes going home to the comfort of her family. 

“Since I don’t have a significant other, it’s good to surround myself with people that actually really love me and value my company,” Pingree said. “We are planning massages or something. I don’t know, just a wellness day for me so that I can feel confident and beautiful and love myself a little bit more on that day.”

Lauren Cmiel, a sophomore, said her outlook on Valentine’s Day often affects her own perception of her single status.

“‘A relationship? That’s not what I need in my life right now and I just need to focus on myself, in which case I’ll get happy and almost proud of myself,” she said.

Other times, Valentine’s Day makes her feel lonely. 

“I’ll see (Valentine's Day decorations) and just think, 'I want to cuddle,’” Cmiel said. 

She has begun to embrace the holiday as a time to celebrate all loved ones, not just romantic relationships. She shares an apartment with seven other girls, and she and her roommates are planning on participating in COVID-19-safe festivities. 

“You know you have to wear red, make heart-shaped pancakes, charcuterie board, the whole works,” Cmiel said. “There’s four rooms and two girls in each room so we are all gonna make valentines like we did in elementary and middle school and have a little love letter exchange.”

Dang agreed that the best way to celebrate while single is to spend time with loved ones.

“Nothing better than hanging with the homies to cheer you up,” he said. 

Regardless of Valentine’s Day plans, single students suggest taking time to let the day be a reminder to prioritize happiness, mental health and overall well-being. 

Knight urges other single students who are having a difficult Valentine’s Day to remember they are not the only people feeling that way. 

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“I guess for all those other single people that don’t know what to do on Valentine’s Day, just remember it’s hard being alone, but you aren’t the only person who is single on Valentine’s Day," Knight said. "And it’s only for one day.”