Relationship expert Paula Quinsee, left, says being single on Valentine's Day doesn't mean you have to be sad. But she advises not making up with someone you broke up with just so you won't be alone.
In the weeks to come all the talk of love and romance and endless advertising of teddy bears and heart-shaped chocolates may stir up old feelings, but relationship expert Paula Quinsee says this doesn’t necessarily mean you should get back together.

“You broke up for a reason and that reason is still there despite how much time has passed,” says Quinsee.

She says people often hold on to the past for fear of being alone.

But, she says, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a sad and lonely nightmare of a day.

“There are many ways to show and feel love even if you are single.

“You can use the opportunity to show yourself some love, celebrate life and your singledom by going out with friends and making the day special for each of you, and while you’re at it why not give each other gifts too.

“At our very basic human level - we love being told we are loved and appreciated and this has nothing to do with being single,” says Quinsee.

However, she warns against reconnecting with an ex partner only so you won’t have to spend Valentine’s Day alone, saying it will only lead to more confusion and could lead to more heartache.

But reuniting with an ex lover doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as is the case with Cape Town couple * Shaun, 57, and Joanne Johnson, 56.

The two first met in their teens as family friends and later started dating.

When Joanne was 19, Shaun proposed, but unfortunately their love story didn’t have a happy ending.

Joanne says: “I was over the moon when he asked me to marry him, because we had been friends for so long.

“But one day, out of the blue, he broke off the engagement. I was heartbroken, especially after I heard he met someone else and they were planning a wedding.”

Not one to talk much, Shaun admits he regrets leaving Joanne in the manner he did.

As the years - and decades - passed the two lost contact and both moved on with different partners and had two children each.

In 2013, Shaun and Joanne met at a church gathering where they reconnected after many years.

Clearly the more talkative one of the two, Joanne says she never thought she would get married again after her husband died a year earlier.

“I saw Shaun at the meeting and I was shocked,” she says.

“He was divorced from the woman he married all those many years ago.

“We started talking and gradually we became friends again and our relationship grew.

“Several months later, he met my two kids and later that year we got married.”

Joanne admits she had her reservations, but decided to give love - and Shaun - a second chance.

Shaun adds: “I was also scared in the beginning because I didn’t know how much she had changed over the years or if she still held a grudge against me for what I did.

“But I gave it a shot and I am very happy I did.”

Quinsee says reuniting with an ex has its ups and downs and both should be carefully considered.

“Reuniting with an old love has its ups and downs, just as starting a relationship with someone new does,” she says.

“For starters, there is some familiarity and you know each other on a level already, so it will be less awkward than starting a relationship with someone new.

“You know each other’s flaws and you’ve shared intimate moments and made memories together.

“Second chances provide you with an opportunity to do things over but differently this time, provided you are both mature enough to unpack what worked, what didn’t work, and collectively work at doing things differently the next time round.

“In a way, you can never go back to the old relationship you had together as that is over so you will need to start afresh with a clean slate and be open to learning new things about each other and your relationship.”

Quinsee adds that “old habits die hard” and the very reason(s) you broke up in the first place are still very much there.

“Unless you deal with these issues and resolve them, they will continuously rear their ugly heads and keep you stuck in the past, setting you up for failure before you’ve even got out the starting blocks,” she says.

“Many times a person is left with emotional, mental and sometimes even physical scars.

“In this case, you need to decide whether it really is worth going back.”