NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Valentine's Day isn't just for couples. Instead of feeling depressed and wallowing in self pity, singles should celebrate and enjoy the day, according to a relationship expert.
Forty three percent of U.S. residents over 18 years old, or 95.9 million people are unmarried. And more than 61 percent have never been married, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
So even if a significant other isn't in the picture, singles are not really alone on Valentine's Day.
"Make fun of the assumption that people need to be coupled," said Tony Jurich, a professor of family studies and human services at Kansas State University.
Instead of a solitary binge of chocolates, or bemoaning the lack of flowers or a card, Jurich advises singles to get together at a restaurant to celebrate Valentine's Day, or even throw an Un-Valentine's Day party at home.
"Make light of it, kind of get even a little bit with the assumptions. Celebrate your singleness together," Jurich added.
More than 152 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged on February 14, according Hallmark, which offers 2,000 Valentine's Day cards.
But not all of them will be to spouses and partners. Mothers receive a sizable portion of cards.
There are also anti-Valentine's Day cards, T-shirts and other items available for those who have strong feelings about the day and want to express their sentiments.
Even couples who celebrate the day are planning to do less this year. Two-thirds of Americans questioned in a Zogby Interactive survey said they expected to spend less than $50 this year, compared to seven percent who said they would be more generous and dispense with $100.
A quarter of people intend to spend nothing.
Although Valentine's Day is the second biggest holiday for giving greeting cards in the US, and is celebrated in other countries including Canada, Mexico, Britaiin, France and Australia, many nations do not mark the day, which according to Roman legend originated in the third century.
It wasn't until about 487 that Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as St Valentine's Day in honor of the martyr Valentinus.
For the recently single or those who take the lack of a significant other to heart, Jurich suggested spending the day with friends who are happy with their single status, or someone who has just escaped from a miserable relationship.
"If you can laugh at Valentine's Day and laugh at the 'misery' of being single, you will give yourself distance -- and distance will help you stay out of the self pity thing," Jurich explained.