Silver linings for people in long-distance relationships on Valentine’s Day


illustration by Julia Poage

For people in a long-distance relationship, Valentine’s Day can feel like a cruel joke. It seems like every other ad features a couple going on a date — or exchanging a gift, sharing a motivated kiss, or holding hands and looking longingly into each other’s eyes — in other words, activities that long-distance couples can only dream of. There’s not a much worse feeling than not being with the person you love when literally the entire world is celebrating a holiday dedicated to exactly that. I would argue that it’s even worse than being single, because you actually do know what you’re missing out on.

However, my mom always taught me to look for the silver lining in every dark cloud, so take heart, lonely taken hearts! Here are some silver linings to look for if you can’t be with your bae this Valentine’s Day.

First of all, you don’t have to compete for dinner reservations with the million-and-a-half other couples who want to go to dinner with their significant other on Valentine’s Day. You don’t know desperation until you’re calling restaurant number 12 and offering to sell your soul if they would please please please just give you a table because otherwise somehow your Valentine’s Day isn’t valid.

In that same vein, even though you may feel like you’re missing out on all the lovey-dovey  posts on literally every social media outlet imaginable, you’re actually just separating yourself from the crowd. Plus, you get all the attention when you and your significant other do finally get around to celebrating Valentine’s Day whenever you see each other next. #BetterLateThanNever is the oldest trick in the social media book, but you have a very legitimate excuse, so own it.

The idea of better-late-than-never also applies to gifts, and you should really use this to your advantage. No idea what to get bae? No problem! Just get inspiration from the millions of posts, blogs, and snaps that you’ll inevitably see showcasing gifts of every kind. Bonus silver-lining points if you get your inspiration from someone your significant other doesn’t follow so they think you’re really creative and original.

Another awesome silver lining is that you get to spend Valentine’s Day with your favorite single friends! Love is love is love, and that includes friend-love too. Make some time to catch up with your squad! Even if you’re all too busy to go out, sending your friends a nice text to remind them how much you care is a really sweet gesture that they’ll all appreciate.

A slightly more sobering point — but a silver lining nonetheless — is that not having a big Valentine’s Day date leaves you open to comfort that friend who’s feeling down or help someone whose day didn’t quite go the way they wanted. As a person to whom weird things always happen on Valentine’s Day, I have always treasured the friends I knew I could go to when those weird things happened and I was sad about them. Be that friend for someone else!

A final key silver lining to focus on is that you won’t have to feel guilty for not spending a ton of time with your significant other on Valentine’s Day because you’re busy, because it’s not like you’d be able to see each other anyway. A brief phone call or video chat is all you really need, though of course if by some miracle you actually have free time on a Wednesday, you can make that call as long as you want. But either way, the pressure is off, which can be a huge relief if you’re often drowning in work during the week like I am.

And of course, on Feb. 15 you’ll get the best silver lining of all, one both good for your soul and for your wallet — heavily discounted Valentine’s Day chocolates.