How to survive Valentine’s Day after a divorce or breakup

A lettered quote meant for those who are struggling with a breakup or divorce on or near Valentine's Day; the quote is set in dark blue script on a light purple background, and is embellished with light gray heart illustrations; the quote reads,

We know that ending a relationship can be extremely heartbreaking. It’s a very significant loss, and when Valentine’s Day comes around, the hurt can feel even more raw.  

What we also know is that there’s always a place of hope for broken hearts—even if you can’t quite see beyond this moment. We believe that and we’ll believe it for you, too. We’ve put together a list of some ways to comfort your heart when you’re sad on Valentine’s Day because you’re going through a divorce or breakup.

And if you’re here looking for ways to support a person who’s gone through a divorce or breakup close to Valentine’s Day? Well, first, you’re a good person. Second, we have that, too! 

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We want to start by acknowledging that everyone’s situation is unique and ending a marriage or relationship can mean different things to different people. We’ve written these tips with empathetic hearts, with sensitivity and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, with love. We hope they can bring you some comfort.

What to do if you’re going through a divorce or breakup on Valentine’s Day  

Practice some self-care and self-love.

You have the power to decide what this day means to you now. It doesn’t have to be about chocolate, flowers, cards or the person you’re no longer with. It can be about you and what you need in this new era of your life.

  • Write a reminder to yourself that you are lovable and loved. Even though your relationship didn’t work out, you can still love you. And there are still people who care about you because you deserve love. 
  • Decide how much Valentine’s stuff you can take and build your boundaries accordingly. If you don’t want the day to be about love and smooches, there’s no rule that it needs to be. Surround yourself instead with something that will make you feel better.
  • Be proudly selfish. Treat yourself to something special that’s just about you.
  • Move your body. Lift your spirit. Do something that makes you feel physically stronger. Work out and work through negative emotions. If your heart is feeling particularly tender, try some gentle movement. A sunny walk or some restorative yoga can be a balm to the soul.


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Write those complicated feelings down. 

Getting thoughts and feelings out on paper can be incredibly cathartic. And there are so many ways you can do it.

  • Write a love letter to yourself. Give yourself credit and compliments for getting through some really tough stuff. Remind yourself that there are beautiful days ahead and that no matter what, you are worthy of a full and healthy kind of love—whether that’s self-love or new love in the future.
  • We like to write letters from our younger—or future—selves. Think about what 10-year-old you would wish for you now. Imagine what 5-year-older you will have waiting for your bright future.
  • Try writing your thoughts down in a journal. Sometimes, just getting those feelings out of our heads can lessen the overwhelm a little. Some guided journals will even give you prompts to express how you feel. And when you don’t want to focus on it anymore, rip it to pieces or shred it in your home shredder.
  • Write a goodbye letter to your partner that you won’t send. It can be your way of getting the closure you didn’t receive or letting it all out one last time.
  • Write down the imaginary conversation you wish you’d had with your partner that made you feel heard and left you both at a place of peace. 


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Meet up with friends. 

 If you’re the type to ruminate, spending time with others can help keep you out of your head and in the present moment with people who love you dearly. 

  • Plan a night in—or out—with other unpaired loved ones. If you have similar situations, give yourself the freedom to commiserate as good friends. 
  • Accept that invite from the cool couple. Granted, some couples will just make us all feel worse. BUT. You know this couple. They’re understanding. They’re fun. And they love you. 
  • Watch a movie together—from your individual homes! Text those silly and slightly snarky messages to your buddies for some much-deserved comic relief. 


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Initiate one new beginning. 

The rush of a new adventure—even a small one—is so much fun and a great way to build up confidence and optimism for the days ahead.

  • Research a hobby that’s intrigued you for a while and plan how to get started. Make a list of supplies you’d need, resources or people you can learn from and steps to get you where you want to go.
  • Have you always wanted to learn a language? Or dig deep into, say, medieval literature? Sign up for a course at a local college. 
  • Visit the pet shelter and get the dog or cat you’ve been dreaming of for a while. Set up a meet and greet or even do a little volunteering first until you find just the right pup or kitty.
  • Make a list of goals you’d like to explore. Nothing is off the table—the sky’s the limit!
  • Change up your hairstyle or try a new color. Sometimes a simple change in your appearance can help you discover a lovely new side of yourself.
  • Buy yourself something you feel fabulous wearing. Go on a hunt for the perfect little black dress or something that makes you feel spoiled. Satin pajamas are scrumptious!
  • Find a restaurant you’ve never been to and make it your spot for new memories. 

If you’re friends with someone who is going through a divorce or breakup   

When love stories are the focus of Valentine’s Day, it’s an even more triggering time for someone who’s grieving a relationship loss. What do you say? Do you say anything?  

There are many ways to show up for your friends and show them you care. Whether they’re feeling really sad, angry, disappointed in themselves or the other person, feeling like they’ve failed somehow or that they can’t trust love, here are some ideas to remind them they’re still loved and that love still works. 

Respect where they are emotionally now. 

You might be tempted to give them your perspective on their situation, but before you start talking, consider these tips:

  • Avoid any statements about “dating again” or bad-mouthing the ex. If they choose to, dating will be there when they’re ready. And reconnecting with their ex may not be off the table, so it’s best to keep your opinions to yourself. 
  • Instead, help them focus on whatever new beginnings they’ve decided to undertake. 
  • Be sensitive in telling your own plans and stories. If you have a rock-solid relationship, try not to inadvertently rub it in their face with humble bragging. This is really depressing for those who’ve gone through a major breakup. 
  • Let your friend lead with the kinds of talks they want to have and activities they want to do for a while. If they’re not up for a boisterous social gathering, hear them out and suggest something calmer. 
  • Respect the “new normal” as your friend works on figuring out who they are now. Life will feel and be different for them as they build an identity as a single person. 
  • Be prepared to hold a hand when divorce papers, a new driver’s license with their unmarried name or a new lease to be signed comes in. These can be stark reminders that an old life is ending and a new, uncertain one is beginning. 


Help with some of the boring life stuff. 

One of the hardest things about a divorce or breakup is that suddenly, you have to do everything alone. This can be exhausting! Giving them a hand with little things might mean more than you think.

  • If your family member or friend has recently moved to another home, offer to help unpack or decorate. 
  • Drive them to the thrift store to donate stuff they’re ready to let go. 
  • Offer your help in making to-do lists. For example, write down every place that needs a name or address change. 
  • Enjoy a shopping trip together to start fresh with new house goods, furniture or a new outfit. 
  • Beyond the emotional pain felt on Valentine’s Day, divorce and breakups can be major financial burdens. Give them a gift card to a favorite store or drop off some fun food and home goodies to ease the load. 


We hope these ideas for observing (or NOT observing) Valentine’s Day after a breakup or divorce have provided you with some helpful ways to spend your time and give you comfort. Remember—no matter what day it is, you are worthy of love.


Looking for some more friendly Valentine’s Day inspo or a little extra encouragement? We have some ideas here: