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Here’s your singles guide to surviving Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, the one day each year when couples celebrate their love and singles try mightily not to notice, is just about here.

Not that not noticing Valentine’s Day couples is easy. Visit a restaurant and the place is chockablock with lovebirds. Turn on the radio and it’s “Love Song Weekend.” Turn on the TV and it’s like a perpetual Hallmark Channel loop on everything from Lifetime to SyFy (if “Alien Loves Predator” isn’t a movie, it should be).

Sure, not every single considers Valentine’s Day a day to be endured. But some do, says Donna Wilburn, a Las Vegas licensed marriage and family therapist.

Valentine’s Day can serve as a big reminder about relationships and romance, Wilburn says. “And, if you’re not in a relationship, it can be brought to your attention and make you kind of sad.”

The pain can be particularly acute for singles who are not happy about being single, Wilburn adds.

Lauren Pena, a certified matchmaker and co-founder of Project Duo, a Las Vegas matchmaking service, says Valentine’s Day is “one of our busiest times of the year. We’ll get calls from people who say, ‘Can you just find me a date for Valentine’s Day?’ ”

Interesting, too: Pena says single men tend to have fewer problems being romantically uninvolved on Valentine’s Day than single women do.

“Girls are more, like, ‘I don’t want to be alone,’ ” she says. “Guys work through it.”

Not being bummed on Valentine’s Day requires planning, Wilburn says.

“Plan ahead and make plans for the day to do what you want to do,” Wilburn says. “If you leave it up to the last minute, you’re not going to do anything and then you’ll be more depressed.

“Be part of a group,” Wilburn says. “Get your friends around you. Don’t be alone.

“This is not a time to be all by yourself. This is a time to be around people who love you and support you, so start reaching out to others to join you.”

Pena, who’s unattached, sometimes spends Valentine’s Day with her friends on a sort of girls’ night out.

“It’s all about love on that day, but not just romantic love,” she explains, and spending the day with other single friends who love you “can be really fun.”

“Love yourself,” Wilburn says. “Use the day to pamper yourself and do something special for yourself. If you don’t have a valentine, you can be your own valentine and show yourself some love that day.”

Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year. Because that’s a singles-centric night out to begin with, restaurateur Michael Morton, whose properties include La Cave at Wynn Las Vegas, Crush at the MGM Grand and La Comida in downtown Las Vegas, says singles should have less reason to feel alone on Valentine’s Day.

Dining at a communal table at restaurants that have them is a great way for singles to get to meet some folks, he says.

“It’s much more comfortable for someone who is single to eat at a bar than sitting at a table alone,” he says. “It’s just kind of a natural social kind of energy from that, a kind of camaraderie.”

Morton says, too, that Las Vegas is a pretty good place for singles on any night of the year.

“(Las Vegas is) such a social place,” he says. “People are so friendly and outgoing. I think it’s much more approachable than if you go to your traditional New York or Chicago (restaurant). People are here to have a good time.”

Granted, singles surely will run across cozy couples while dining out next weekend. For restaurants, Valentine’s Day is huge, says Craig Gilbert, co-owner of Drive This! Entertainment, whose properties include Casa Fuente, Rhumbar and Tacos &Tequila. “It’s a big dining day, but it’s not a big covers day, meaning you do a lot of tables of two. You don’t do groups.”

Obviously, singles who aren’t big fans of Valentine’s Day would do well to avoid couples-heavy restaurants (warning signs include subdued lighting, hearts and doves on the menus and soft music wafting throughout the dining room). Instead, Pena suggests, “I’d go to a nightclub or Irish pubs where single people go and it’s casual.”

“I’d go down to the Strip,” Morton adds. “There are a lot of single people, or people who are single for that night.”

Staying home for the evening is a totally valid option, too. But if you turn on the TV, avoid such emotionally precarious channels as Hallmark Movie Channel, “because, if you’re not in a place to process that, that’s a bad idea,” Pena says.

Instead, Pena says, “I’d go for the complete opposite of that. I would say, for girls, movies about girl power and things like that, or movies like ‘Hairspray,’ or uplifting musicals and things like that.”

Plan to spend the evening listening to tunes? Fine, too, but avoid romantic ballads. Opt instead, Pena suggests, for songs like “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” by Beyonce, songs that extol women’s empowerment, and doing-their-own-thing/independent women kind of songs.

A more extreme coping strategy: Search out songs that’ll convince you how lucky you are to not be involved.

When asked for a few examples of that admittedly offbeat musical genre, Richard McGee, chairman of the College of Southern Nevada’s fine arts department, offers Brad Paisley’s “I’m Gonna Miss Her” (girl forces guy to choose between her and fishing, guy chooses fishing), Carrie Underwood’s Las Vegas-set “Last Name” (“she goes to a party and wakes up married, and she doesn’t even remember the guy’s name and now she doesn’t know her own last name because she got married”), and “Jubilation Day” by Steve Martin (“it’s the day he finally gets away from this psycho nut-job woman, and it’s twisted and really funny”).

It’s probably not coincidental that all are country-flavored songs, because if any genre does glad-to-be-romantically-unattached songs well, it’s country-western. Otherwise, McGee notes, “people, from the beginning, have been writing songs about love, because they just didn’t know any other way to express themselves.”

In fact, love songs go “all the way back to the Renaissance,” McGee says. “Most madrigals that were written back in those days were love poems, and some of them were kind of steamy for the time.

“Not compared to hip-hop,” he adds, “but a little more subtle.”

You could always spend Valentine’s Day reading a good book. Leah Ciminelli, assistant branch manager at the Spring Valley Library, describes herself as a fan of books where things don’t necessarily end happily ever after but, maybe, happily enough.

For instance, Ciminelli suggests, check out books by Jojo Moyes, whose stories can be sad, but in a good way.

“(They’re) heartbreaking but uplifting at the same time,” Ciminelli says of Moyes’ stories. “It gives you hope in that maybe you think something should happen, but it doesn’t always happen and, sometimes, that’s for the best.”

Or, check out something like “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn which, Ciminelli says, offers “a definite twist on an ending you don’t normally see.”

Or just check out the equally depressing filmed version of the book, which also provides food for thought that being romantically uninvolved isn’t the worst thing that can happen to someone.

Speaking of movies: Scare up (pardon the phrase) a DVD of “Fatal Attraction,” a film that, Eric Post says, “scared every marriage in the country.”

Post and his wife, Jayne, are creators and cast members of “Marriage Can Be Murder,” the interactive comedy/murder mystery at the D Las Vegas. He says the show’s audiences include everybody from singles to couples to groups, usually of women.

“I think it’s easier for girlfriends to go out than for guys to get together and do something on Valentine’s Day,” he says.

Post and his wife have been married for 25 years and usually work on Valentine’s Day. But if he happened to be alone on Valentine’s Day, Post says he’d probably “get a good war flick, even going back to ‘Kelly’s Heroes’ or one of those.”

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280.

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