Another Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us. Amid the usual onslaught of holiday marketing, it’s normal to feel lonely if you are single. But what if this Valentine’s Day was about celebrating the love you have for yourself, and not longing for the love of another?Most lonely singles think a romantic relationship will make them happy. To be blunt, this isn’t true. If you are single, use this Valentine’s Day to ponder a critical point: all the love you need is inside of you. Consider the words of best-selling author Don Miguel Ruiz: “if you give your happiness to someone else, he can always take it away.” Indeed, you don’t need to be dependent on the love of a romantic partner to be happy.By following the steps below, you can use your time as a single to absorb all of the emotional nourishment you need—no Valentine’s Day date required!QUIZ: How is Your Self-Esteem?

“You are ready for a relationship when you no longer think you need one. All the love you need is inside of you.”

1. CULTIVATE SELF-LOVEThe best preparation for a romantic relationship is to cultivate love for your self. Self-love is not selfish or narcissistic – it means accepting and embracing yourself just the way you are, like you would a family member or best friend.Of course, this is easier said than done; most people live their entire lives judging themselves for not living up to an unrealistic standard of perfection, as described in a previous Cloud Nine article. However, if you are willing to put in the effort, you can develop self-love through techniques such as loving kindness meditation. Once you have self-love, the idea of a romantic relationship is like dessert after a big, delicious dinner—it would be nice, but you don’t need anything else to feel satisfied.MORE: Meditate to Get a Date2. ADOPT A STANDARD OF MUTUAL ACCEPTANCEDecide ahead of time that your future relationship will be based on mutual acceptance. On your end, be comfortable with who you are and promise yourself that you will not stay with anyone who doesn’t embrace you as a person. On the other hand, be sure to give your partner the same courtesy. For example, if you meet a guy with a passion for sports, don’t try to change that – either accept him for who he is or move on to someone else. Set a standard of mutual acceptance for your next romantic relationship – without it, pointless suffering is inevitable.3. KNOW WHEN YOU ARE READYYou are ready for a romantic relationship when you no longer think you need one. This will only happen when you’ve cultivated an adequate amount of self-love. When you have self-love, you are complete. If you think you need a relationship to be happy, you may not be ready for one. Indeed, yearning for the love of another person virtually guarantees that you will get hurt; only the love in your own heart can make you happy. In addition, if you feel emotionally guarded or the desire to play “games,” then take more time to feel secure with yourself before beginning a romantic relationship.MORE: Kind, to Yourself? Boost Self-CompassionI said this above, but it bears repeating: all the love you need is inside of you. Just as you don’t need someone else to confirm the color of your eyes, you don’t need someone else to agree that you are worthy of love. If you are reluctant to love again because you’ve had your heart broken, take some time to heal and grow comfortable out of that relationship. If you enter any new relationship completely content with yourself, you can confidently proceed knowing that you are not dependent on it. If the other person ends things, it may hurt for a little while, but you can confidently fall back on the self-love you’ve already cultivated. In truth, if you come into the relationship with self-love and it doesn’t work out, the two of you are probably just not a good match.If you are lonely and single, romantic relationships may seem like a great way to get out of your slump and feel happy again. Don’t be fooled. This Valentine’s Day, resolve to take your happiness into your own hands. Cultivate a profound love for yourself that no romantic partner can ever take away.COLUMN: How to Have a Secure Relationship