About a week ago I found myself in the card aisle of a local CVS pharmacy. I was there to pick out a birthday card, but I noticed a few men flipping through the Valentine’s Day cards. They had such serious and determined expressions. Here they were fulfilling their obligation to their girlfriend or wife. I couldn’t help but smile. Valentine’s Day can be such a source of aggravation for people in relationships, and an even greater source of misery for people out of them. But is there a way for all of us, the single and the coupled, to find joy on this Hallmark dominated holiday? Allow me to offer my own advice on making the best of a day that pours salt on the wounds of singularity, and forces many men (and women) to buy sugar for their sweety against their will.
First, I want to address Singles Awareness Day, or Valentine’s Day. Now, I have much experience with this. 11 out of 12 years have been single years. I have known many lonely holidays. So I have had a lot of time to develop a philosophy on surviving as a single person.
As a single person I noticed one thing above all else, many people in relationships seem absolutely miserable. Maybe I exaggerate a little, but in all honesty I would hear so much bellyaching about having to get something for Valentine’s Day, or having to go out somewhere. This was somewhat pitiful, but also allowed me to keep a healthy perspective. Perhaps not being in a relationship is a good thing. I mean, if most people seem to be miserable anyway, maybe I’m not missing so much. This is what I told myself many times. “It is better to endure as a healthy single person than to have to endure an unhealthy relationship.” Single people can be thankful that they are not in a miserable relationship.
Another thing to help out the single person on Valentine’s Day is to remember that they are free. I mean this in two ways. First, they are free to spend the day any way they want. They are not obligated to buy their love anything, or take them out to dinner. If they want, they can just stay home or smash mailboxes. Second, they are free relationally. The freedom of being single offers you the hope of finding someone great someday. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find someone even better than you hoped. Singles Awareness Day should be a celebration of freedom.
My advice is not to be bitter. You’re alive, and that’s a good start. Best not to take a bath in self-loathing. Remember that relationships in themselves are not good or superior, it is the people in them that define them.
My advice for people in relationships on Valentine’s Day is to make the most of an opportunity to express your love. Don’t look at it as an obligation. If you get by with the bare minimum effort, you will reap your own harvest of mediocrity and lameness. But if you make the day your own by showing the one you love how much they mean to you, it won’t be Valentine’s Day anymore. It will be your day. Go a little above and beyond. Give a little bit more thought. I am certain that a gift from the heart, obtained with some effort, and delivered with some level of thoughtfulness will always be enough for the one you love. It’s not about the chocolates or the cards or the flowers. These things are symbols for something greater. If you don’t know what that is, you’re hopeless.
I hope you have someone to love on Valentine’s Day.
I’m looking at you, Nicole Thurling.