If you are single and still "looking for love in all the wrong places," you may be wondering whether Cupid somehow overlooked you.

Single people are the most likely group of individuals to spend Valentine's Day alone, not often by personal choice. There may be a real wish to make contact with a dream partner, however, some individuals may not know how, when Valentine's Day may be the perfect opportunity to ask for that special date, what is the worst that can happen? This is a good opportunity to practice your assertiveness skills; rejection can be uncomfortable but it will give you certainty about where you stand with your potential crush. Also keep your standards high, why lower them just so you have a date for Valentine's Day; it is not worth spending the day with a cast member of the 1980s drama Fatal Attraction and end up with post-traumatic stress disorder.

So what if nobody is available, what are a single person's options? Well, it's back to the drawing board or Internet: Lots of fish out there (pun intended).

Not only are there numerous online dating services available (about 1,400), they are also a billion-dollar business and many people make use of this service with mixed results: 33 percent form a relationship, 33 percent do not and 33 percent give up on dating online. Roughly 40 million American singles use online dating and social networking sites to meet new people. So go ahead, give it a shot, what do you have to loose? Just as we tell our children, be careful and use common sense when surfing the Internet for a potential date; New Jersey created the Internet Dating Safety Act, along with New York State, to make online dating safer for individuals, including criminal background checks on members. Follow the same guidelines that you would tell a child about Internet friendships and keep it safe.

Once you have decided to give Internet dating a shot, you start with constructing your profile, along with a picture and brief description about yourself. According to recent studies (SilverStrike Consulting Inc., 2011) your profile should deliver a tone of conversation much like the beginning of when you first meet someone.

Assuming your profile is OK and draws a certain amount of attention and subsequent e-mails, what is next, how do you weed through all those e-mails, knowing who is honest and a "nice person?" Well, that is a drawback with Internet dating, you just never know, and if you ask some of your friends, meeting someone in person is still absolutely necessary to assess for "chemistry" or attraction; individuals who remain in online relationships for long periods tend to have issues with depression or social interaction, keep that in mind when you are "dating" someone online for an extended period without meeting him or her in person.

What if you are in a new relationship that is still "growing" or slowly developing, maybe even casual? Be sensible and don't stress over having to spend Valentine's Day together, discuss it with your new friend and make a decision together.

Maybe you are not planning anything special on Valentine's Day, or are just getting over a break-up; there is nothing wrong with just getting together with a friend or even a few friends. Go for a special meal or watch a movie together; Valentine's Day is about love and feelings but not necessarily directed at one individual only. All that matters is the company you're in is fun and the time together enjoyable.

Astrid Heathcote is a licensed psychologist with a private practice and residence in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach her at (480) 275-2249 or drastrid.org.

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