So, you’re alone this Valentine’s Day—again. Join the club. But what are you doing about it?
If “single” isn’t your preferred relationship status, it’s time to stop hoping that love happens and make some changes—and some new connections. Here are 14 ways you can take back Valentine’s Day and take control of your love life.
1. Apply yourself.
OK, so you’re a romantic who still can’t get with the whole “lust at first swipe” culture that seems to have overtaken dating these days. I get it: It’s superficial, impersonal and … how’s that working for you? Hate to break it to you, but one of the reasons you’re not locking eyes with someone across a crowded room is that everyone else has their eyes on their phones—and all the attractive prospects online. It may be impersonal, but it’s also efficient. More importantly, it’s how people are meeting these days.
Got specific tastes? I promise: There’s an app for that. So, stop making excuses and make a profile—if only for the practice.
2. Fly solo.
Sure, you hang with the ultimate power clique. But could they be scaring off prospects? There’s nothing wrong with having wingmen or women. But if they keep you too distracted to flirt—or, worse yet, distract attention from you—they may be more harm than help. You’re a grown-up; you don’t need a babysitter to dine alone at the bar. If you need company, bring a book. Believe it or not, it can be a great conversation starter.
3. Ask for assistance.
Chances are, someone in your crew is dying to play matchmaker. Let them work their magic for you! If you’ve exhausted your social network, it may be time to tap into someone else’s—especially if it’s someone you know and trust. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a fresh pair of eyes to introduce you to a world of fresh new prospects. Who knows? The love of your life may only be a few degrees of separation away.
4. C’mon in my kitchen.
Are you a great cook or an expert mixologist, or do you simply love to entertain? Play to your strengths, and play host to a world of new possibilities. Organize a monthly game night, or an off-year college reunion. Host a swank salon, or simply invite people to potluck. Just make sure their eligible friends are also on the menu.
5. Don’t block the blessings.
Are you a single soul looking for someone to share Sunday sermons? You’re in luck: Valentine’s Day is this Sunday. What better time to step out on faith and ask that sweet-faced church girl or boy to brunch than when you’re both in your Sunday best? Whatever your spiritual path may be, finding someone who shares your values can lead you to love. So whether it’s a meditation class or that new congregation you’ve been meaning to check out, keep your eyes open for kindred spirits.
6. Get physical.
Are you a fitness freak (or aspiring to be)? There’s evidence that couples who sweat together stay together. You can spin that any way you want—or just sign up for a Spin class. But looking good naked can’t be bad for your future relationship. If getting and/or staying fit is one of your ultimate #RelationshipGoals, a runner’s club, sports team or boxing gym could be a great place to increase your heart rate—in more ways than one.
7. Broaden your horizons.
Wondering why you never meet anyone new when you never go anywhere new? Might be time for a change of scenery. Not everyone has a year (or budget) to “Eat, Pray, Love,” but if you wonder what life—and love—might be like in another time zone (or hemisphere), use your vacation time (or this long holiday weekend) to find out. Not only have groups like Travel Noire made it easier to curate our experiences abroad, but dating apps like Tinder and Happn are increasingly accessible internationally, so there’s no excuse not to explore your options—and uncharted territory. At minimum: You may be wooed in another language. At most: dual citizenship?
8. Be creative.
You want a man who’ll accompany you to Ailey. You wish you met more women willing to go to art films. Sounds dreamy, but how often are you doing these things? Are you taking advantage of membership deals and events at cultural institutions in your area? If you’re a freelancer, have you considered spending a few days a week in a collaborative workspace … or, at least, a coffee shop?
A creative life can be a fairly solitary one, but it doesn’t have to be. Find your tribe: Become a regular at gallery openings, concerts and museum parties. Surround yourself with beauty, and beauty just might find you.
9. Upgrade yourself.
It’s a sad fact, but when we’re not getting romantic attention, we often stop paying attention to ourselves. If you’ve been letting yourself go, making even a minimal effort can spark major new energy. When’s the last time you hit the gym? Have you relegated your best clothes to the back of the closet? Had the same hairstyle since college? Self-care is an important indicator of how you expect to be cared for, so put yourself first for a change. Remember: Confidence is a very sexy quality. Lead with yours. Love might follow.
10. Smile, please.
One of my daily grinds as a woman about town is strange men directing me to “smile.” That said, a strategic smile at an attractive stranger can be very potent—and a great way to take your power back. (Trust me on this: I’ve scored several dates with this technique.) If you see something—or someone—you like, abandon the ice grill for a bit of warmth. That passerby may have partner potential. But neither of you will know unless you break the ice.
11. Create a “vision of love.”
Any “Law of Attraction” enthusiast will attest that visualization is a powerful step in actualization. Whether or not you subscribe to “the Secret,” it never hurts to identify a few qualities you’re looking for in a prospective partner and relationship. Maybe it’s time to write—or revise—“the List.” Better yet, how about simply composing a list of things you love and inviting love to meet you there? If you’re the type who makes vision boards and scours Pinterest, you’ve already got this technique down. So why not create a vision of love?
12. Reminisce on the love.
Enough trolling that person’s Facebook feed and faithfully following him or her on Instagram. If you can’t let go of the “one who got away” (and you both happen to single), it may be time to rekindle that old flame. No, not every door should be reopened. But it’s important to remember that when it comes to love, timing, like chemistry, is everything. Maybe time wasn’t on your side before. But if your hearts are in the right place now, things might be better the second time around!
13. Give yourself closure.
If your last breakup left you shattered, it might be more than circumstance that’s keeping you single. A big betrayal can create huge roadblocks when it comes to moving on, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you’re feeling stuck, forgiving your past—and yourself—may trigger a breakthrough. It may feel counterintuitive, but closure comes when you stop giving your power away and start rebuilding your trust in yourself—and in love.
14. Make this your “year of yes.”
You’ve gotten great at setting boundaries. Now take a tip from Shonda and break a few of your own rules for the benefit of your love life. Go ahead: Ask out your “man crush.” Accept that last-minute invite; you never know whom you’ll meet! Try dating outside your “type” for a change.
Bottom line: Get out of your comfort zone, because the love you’re seeking might not live there. You may be surprised by how opening your mind can dramatically open your options. Sky’s the limit, so take a leap. Do it. I double-dog dare you.
Maiysha Kai is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, fashion model, devoted auntie and Brooklyn, N.Y.-based, single black bombshell who recently strutted into her 40s. She is also an expert at oversharing who chronicles her attempts at dating—and adulting—on 40onFleek.