Valentine’s Day. It's a day filled with expectations.

For some, it’s a time to start picking off rose petals asking… She loves me, she loves me not? For others, the anticipation goes a little further… Will he pop the question?

Needless to say, love is in the air. But many men and women are catching a different “love bug,” causing uneasiness in the pit of their stomach. No, not butterflies. Nausea.

Because for those without a valentine, Feb. 14 is a brash reminder: YOU’RE SINGLE.

The Un-Conformists

But just because you're single doesn’t mean you’re alone. It may be a clichéd phrase people tell their sobbing best friends after a bad breakup, but there is truth to it, says Sarah Kathryn Smith, founder of One-on-One Matchmaking. For all the people who roll their eyes at the grocery store aisles exploding with candy, cards and obnoxiously large stuffed animals, there’s a holiday for you: Singles Awareness Day.

Recognized the day after Valentine’s Day, Feb. 15 is a day for all the unattached men and women to celebrate the single life.

Just a decade or so ago, society frowned upon single adults, says Smith. “Marriage and having a family was what Americans did to conform to society’s standards of happiness,” she says. But times are changing. “At this point in time, our society values people that don’t conform.”

Smith says, if anything, singles are now encouraged to wait later and later for marriage. According to the U.S. census, the average age for Americans getting married for the first time has reached a historic high—29 for men and 27 for women—up from the 1990 averages of 26 for men and 24 for women

For whatever the reason, living in a single-family home is becoming less and less taboo. However, Smith cautions singles not to get too comfortable. Even if someone is not in a relationship or aggressively looking to pursue one, “they must always put their best foot forward,” she says.  

Rule of thumb: “Never take a breather between relationships.”

Single and Aware

Singles Awareness Day began as a humorous way to make light of being single during the consumer-driven “Hallmark Holiday” of Valentine’s Day. For bachelors and bachelorettes, it’s a time to either embrace their independence and self-worth or wallow in their lonesome. However, Smith warns singles not to take it too far. In the end, it’s all about finding balance.

Smith, who is credited with more than 300 marriages and serious relationships, says it’s just as important to find "me" time when you’re in a relationship than it is to be open to the idea of entering a relationship when you’re single. Oftentimes people live to the extreme in each situation, either consuming themselves with "their other half" or acting closed off to the idea of meeting "the one."

Smith advises all single ladies and gents not to view Singles Awareness Day as an anti-Valentine’s Day, or gag at the thought of love. Instead, she says to be open to the possibility of love, beginning with you. “During the times you’re single, it’s really an opportunity to continue to work on yourself,” she adds.  

Being aware of one’s relationship status on Valentine’s Day may evoke strong emotions and painful memories: from the one who got away, to a love passed over. Or maybe it triggers an overwhelming feeling of loneliness leading to the ultimate state of self-pity—crying alone while watching romantic movies and self-soothing over a box of chocolates. Yes, grieving and self pity are a part of life, but Smith advises to work on what you could have instead of dwelling on what you don't have. 

“There’s no reason to be down about not having somebody special, but there is a reason to be down if you’re not even trying to meet new people,” she says.

Single and Ready to Mingle

Bottom line: Despite less of an emphasis on marrying by a certain age, it’s human nature to want to love and be loved. For anyone single this time of year, Smith says to take advantage of Singles Awareness Day and get out there.

“Single people should enjoy their freedom and flexibility while they have it,” she explains. Still, it's important to “A-B-L" (Always Be Looking).

“Always represent yourself in the best light,” Smith says. Because you never know when you will meet someone, or the one.

In the meantime, “If you’re single celebrate it! It might be the last time that you are and being single is not the worst thing in the world.”

A Special Valentine for Singles Awareness Day from Sarah Kathryn Smith:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Here are 5 tips from a matchmaker,
To celebrate the single YOU:

1. Spend quality ‘me time’
Spend a day treating and bettering yourself. Go to the gym, get your hair and makeup done at your favorite salon (GlowDry), or sit back and read a life coach book. It’s important to pay attention to your needs to be the best you.

2. Go out alone 
Go to a movie or have dinner at a bar by yourself. Not only is it good to get out there on your own, but chances are you will likely meet someone. This is a great way to embrace independence while also making new connections. 

3. Volunteer
Although Singles Awareness Day is a day about you, think of others as well. Go out and volunteer. There is nothing as self-fulfilling as helping others in need.

4. Visit others
There's no reason to feel alone! Even if you're in a fight with your best friend or you’ve just been dumped, find consolation in meeting new people. Reach out to those who would appreciate the company. Visit with local veterans, with members of a nursing home or with patients at a children’s hospital.

5. Indulge: Valentine's candy is on sale!
If you’re a rule follower and workaholic, let loose for once. Indulge in the marked-down Valentine’s Day candy and let yourself unwind for a day. You deserve it!

Meet the Matchmaker

Sarah Kathryn Smith

A seasoned matchmaker and businesswoman, Sarah Kathryn Smith is the president of Atlanta-based Eight at Eight Dinner Club and One on One Matchmaking. Her expertise has led to more than 300 marriages and thousands of serious relationships. Smith has also been featured in such media as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Fox News, Men’s Health, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, New York Post and many more.