By this time of year, couples have taken over campus. They stare lovingly into each other’s eyes at the dining hall. They walk hand-in-hand to the library. They sit a little too close to each other in class. If you’re single, you often can’t help but notice those happy couples. And with Valentine's Day coming up, it may seem like they’re trying to rub your lackluster dating life in your face. Well, if that’s the case, the joke’s on them because being single on Valentine's Day during college can actually be a lot of fun.
I can think of no one more qualified to give advice for singles on Valentine's Day than me. I never once spent an on-campus V-Day on a date (not to brag!), but I had such a good time every year that I can still remember exactly what I did. So, if you’re single on campus, know that you can still make great memories with your friends.
Watch your favorite rom com.
There is a time and a place for watching a guilty pleasure rom com, and it’s usually when you’re holed up in your room on a chilly Valentine's Day. My personal favorites are When Harry Met Sally and L’Arnacœur, but I did once attend a dorm room viewing of The Notebook which we turned into a drinking game. If you’re over 21 and know your limits, you might give it a try or make up your own rules for the movie of your choice. If you’re feeling extra cynical about love, might I recommend watching a Lifetime movie or a soap opera? They’re so over the top that the drama can become hilarious.
Give a dramatic reading of excerpts from a romance novel.
Gather a group of single friends around a romance novel, which you can pick up from the drugstore for about $5.00. Take turns reading the saucy passages aloud in your best breathless voices. When you need a break, write your own Mad Libs love stories.
Decorate heart-shaped cookies.
If the messages on candy hearts, like “Be Mine” and “Let’s Kiss,” just don’t speak to your soul this year, write the cynical messages that will. No need to dish out money for custom candy hearts, either. Whip up a batch of heart-shaped cookies, and ice them to your (icy black) heart’s desire. Your single friends will surely get a laugh when you offer them sweet cookies with not-so-sweet messages.
Make old-school valentines.
Valentine's Day isn’t only about romantic love (shout-out to my grandmother for being my valentine every year!), so celebrate your relationships with family, friends, roommates, classmates, and Tinder matches. My friends and I made a day of it when we were seniors in college, and we had construction paper, scissors, doilies, markers, everything. Not only are arts and crafts a stress reducer, but it was fun to make cheeky valentines for our housemates, thesis advisors (but only the ones with a sense of humor), and the dudes we’d been out with one or two times. There’s no better way to say “So far, you seem cool” than with a homemade valentine.
Hit up the on-campus dining hall; it might be doing something special.
Don’t even think about going out to eat on Valentine's Day without making a reservation first. If you don’t have one, not to worry! That’s where your on-campus dining hall comes in. Mine, which every other day was an all-you-care-to-eat dining hall, once threw a themed sit-down dinner. White tablecloths and vases of roses graced the tables, and the kitchen staff acted as wait-staff. I couldn’t believe my luck. My regular meal swipe had suddenly broken the dining hall monotony, and I was one of the few people there to enjoy it.
Take your BFF on a date.
The semester after I studied abroad in Argentina, a friend of mine from my study abroad program drove from his college to mine for a visit. It was the weekend of Valentine's Day, and though we were not remotely interested in each other, we planned a date anyway, just for fun. I made a reservation at an upscale Argentine restaurant, and we dressed to the nines. After dinner, we took a drive along the river, then had a cocktail at a fancy bar. Just because you’re single on Valentine's Day doesn’t mean you can’t treat it like a special occasion.
Plan a weekend away with friends.
This Valentine's Day falls on a Tuesday, which isn’t ideal for travel, but you can still distract yourself from what’s usually considered a romantic holiday if you have something to look forward to. If you have high school friends at colleges nearby, think about planning a visit. Otherwise, consult with your college friends about taking a day or weekend trip off campus after V-Day. Planning a trip can distract you from the cold, from loneliness, from just about anything. In fact, on Valentine's Day of my sophomore year, my friends and I took a two-hour train ride from our college town into New York City, where we went to a Kesha concert at an 18+ club. The vibe made us feel like we were worlds away from our books and from traditional Valentine's Day celebrations. We had a blast, and we came back to campus refreshed and excited to plan another excursion.
Take advantage of the empty campus and make a little more noise than usual.
As the afternoon of V-Day falls away, couples flock to off-campus bistros and ice skating rinks. If you don’t have Valentine’s Day plans, consider exploring the empty campus; you likely won’t be bothering anyone. Host a scavenger hunt for friends; delight in snagging your favorite machine in the gym or the biggest piece of pie in the dining hall; and turn up your music a little bit louder than usual for a dorm room dance party.
If you’re single on Valentine's Day in college, you have nothing to bemoan and everything to look forward to! No need to pretend Valentine's Day isn’t happening. Grab your friends and celebrate the way you want to celebrate.