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Valentine's Day: a celebration of all love, actually!

Valentines day: a celebration of all love actuallyPlanning on hiding yourself away on February 14? Think again, says behaviour analyst Judi James: Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love in all its forms. So whatever your relationship status, get out there and enjoy yourself!

If the whole world apart from you seems to be loved-up and you’re anticipating wallowing in singleton gloom on Valentine's night, try to keep a sense of perspective.

There are millions of single people around; it's just that they tend to make themselves scarce at this time of the year.
And of those couples who are out there looking so smug, many of them are very likely to be secretly wishing they were with someone else (like Brad Pitt!).

Celebrate the single life!

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love – period! There’s no law making it exclusive to lovers and there's nothing to say it has to be current love, either. Going out with friends to toast ex-loves, future loves or the love of friends and family is always an option.

When hearts and flowers are everywhere it can feel as though being in a relationship is the only option for a happy, successful life. However, being in an unhappy relationship can be one of the loneliest experiences there is – take a look at celebrities and famous faces and you'll see that some of the glummest ones are those with a partner, while some of the happiest seem to relish the single life.

Remember that being single now doesn't mean being single forever, any more than marriage means for life in this day and age. In fact, many people meet the love of their life on Valentine’s Day, as it can often be an annual reminder to get out there and start dating.

Focus on the positive achievements and successes in your life and assess yourself on the basis of those, rather than on your ability to be part of a double-act. Self-worth should never be judged by mating and marriage!

Money can't buy you love!

A celebratory ritual that needn't involve conspicuous consumption, especially with many of us currently on a limited budget.

Although gifts and treats are traditional, the very intimate nature of the celebration means presents that reflect time, care and thoughtfulness will always say more than something lavish but impersonal.

Public displays of Valentine’s Day affection are often more about status than genuine love. A girl who gets a huge bouquet sent to her workplace or who gets wined and dined at an expensive restaurant might get to make her friends and colleagues jealous, but this is impersonal adoration. An intimate evening at home might not sound so glamourous, but it's more likely to be a reciprocal display of genuine love that will create stronger bonds in the relationship.

Here are some simple, inexpensive and meaningful ways to express your love for your partner or other special person in your life:

  • If you’re planning something special for Valentine’s Day, be creative rather than clichéd and try sharing the preparation rather than going for a surprise. The act of food preparation can be fun if you work as a team – and a treat if you're used to taking turns to cook.
  • Small, impulsive acts of genuine affection can mean a lot. Try loading her iPod with favourite love songs, secretly taping some of his favourite TV shows for a couple of weeks, or making a fun video of her friends telling her why she’s special or her pet doing cute things.
  • Put together a small, romantic scrapbook of your time together with photos and mementos. One pressed flower from your first date could mean more than a whole cartload of expensive roses.
  • The cheapest act can be the most romantic: writing down your thoughts and feelings and then presenting them in the shape of a card or letter. A list of 'Reasons why I love you' is a thoughtful gesture, though do try to do it in your own words. If you want to quote from a famous poet, add some thoughts of your own to endorse the message. 

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