It’s February. You’re single. Unless you’ve held yourself hostage by way of Netflix and Domino’s since New Year’s Eve, you’ve been exposed. At first glance, the damage is nominal. You enter the grocery store for paper towels and toilet paper and catch a glimpse. Petite floral displays, nestled underneath shiny birthday balloons have replaced holiday wreathes and pine cones. Each bouquet of red and pink roses is surrounded with babies-breath, stretching out from a tiny frosted glass vase, painted white. There are chocolates housed in heart-shaped boxes on the display shelf, framing the display.
Whether you’re picking up cough syrup or navigating your grocery cart, there’s no avoiding the piles of love on display in the form of chocolate hearts, cupid dolls and bossy stalker candy. Be yours? Kiss you? Bite me, I’m single.
With my charming disposition and balls out vibe I can’t imagine why some dashing lad hasn’t swept me away from my miserable single life yet, either.
But here’s the thing. I’m not miserable.
Make no mistake. I love love. I’ve been blissfully lost on a cloud of multiple orgasms, pillow talk and naked spoons with the best of ’em. I’ve strolled on white sand beaches at dusk, our laced fingers swaying with the beat of crashing waves. I’ve been led to an impromptu cheek-to-cheek slow dance, stayed up all night watching black and white movies with a post-coitus makeshift picnic of cheese and crackers on the bed. I’ve exhaled along with my lover, and taken great comfort in allowing our bellies to breathe – simply being human. An imperfect physical reminder that there is something to be said for not pretending we are anyone we think the other wishes us to be.
Even when I’m not in love, I’m a big fan of: “Say, I’m not in love with you, but I do love you and your company is rad, so kick off your shoes, stay a while.” Life is even lonelier without the company of people you truly connect with on all cylinders (which is rare).
You don’t need to be in love to feel love, laugh your asses off and have deviant adventures bordering on salacious.
On the flip side, when actually being in love, I’ve been cared for in ways I never thought possible. Anyone who has taken care of a sick loved one knows all too well, the depths of murky waters people who truly love one another will dive into. Happily.
Being genuinely in love goes beyond the flesh-colored glasses of hormones and heat. Once our dopamine and oxytocin receptors in our brain level back from fireworks to normalcy, when we are in love, this is where it really shows. There’s nothing we won’t do for our partner. It’s all about support, love, patience, and respect. You are best friends, lovers, teachers, caregivers and most trusted confidant. A union that feels unbreakable.
And then, time.
As the months and years pass and we allow ourselves to grow, sometimes our sweethearts don’t evolve with us. Their paths turn in a different direction. They simply can’t serve our happiness any longer (the term “growing pains” cannot be more appropriate here). This is when we must dive deep into our memory banks and use those precious moments like a patchwork quilt of hope, keeping us from thinking we will never be loveable to anyone else again. A favorite quote comes to mind:
Just because the rose died on the vine, doesn’t mean it lied to you while it was in bloom*
For singles, Valentine’s Day is the welcome mat of I am unlovable. It lies there waiting. Ready for us to wipe our lonely all over its face. But guess what – It doesn’t need to be. We can just as easily be wiping awesome all over this day, leaving a trail of “I’m not settling” billowing in the air. The fragrance, one of pure joy and insight permeates with each wipe of our feet. It’s the kind of pheromones one releases only after making it to the other side of anguish born from heartbreak.
It’s better to be alone than with the wrong person. Even – especially on Valentine’s Day.
Feeling alone while being with the wrong person is like treading water in a crowded pool of strangers who all swim better than you and no one will hand you a life raft. You have to save yourself.
Sticking with a partner because you’re afraid to be alone, or worse, because you think one of you will change to fit your expectations of who you both want the other to be, is far more tragic than actually being solo.
Maybe you’re not attracted to your “plus one” any longer; you’ve outgrown them, or you simply were never in love with them, (and you know they were with you). You’re paralyzed with guilt for fear of breaking their heart, so you stay, cutting their chance of ever finding true love with the one who is right for them. Is there a Hallmark card for selfish coward?
I’ve been that woman in the water in search of her life raft before – and I’ve definitely given myself the proverbial selfish coward card a few times. Whatever our story, when it comes to love not being right for both partners – it’s never easy. Ever. Breakup casualties are everywhere – people who feel like they are mere shells of who they used to be. If we can survive that kind of pain – the very best thing to do is remind ourselves just how loveable we actually are.
We love ourselves enough to know when it’s time to let go.
We know the pain. We do it anyway. Why? Because somewhere past the self-loathing and woe-is-me, I’m gonna be alone the rest of my life bullshit – we know. We deserve to be with the one person who will make us realize why it didn’t work with anyone else.
Valentine’s Day when you’re single feels like a trap.
So many of us define ourselves by our relationship status. It’s not only sad, it’s dangerous. Our mental health is not designed for withstanding self-sabotage.
How many of us feel “less than”, when we find ourselves single on Valentine’s Day? Why do we feel that if we were just with someone – anyone – the planets would miraculously align, and we’d snap into happy? So what does that mean – if we aren’t in a couple, we don’t get to be happy? It’s a scary maze of self-doubt and loathing that can be totally avoided. And by the way, even married people can fall victim to this trap (they stay for the kids living in misery, which is a whole different topic I wrote about here).
Personally, it’s taken me years to get it. Countless failed attempts of shoving squares into circles. Totally unfair to the person you’re trying to mold into your idea of The One, by the way.
I’ll always be the romantic, the dreamer. No one can reenact The Way We Were and Sex and The City like me. Carrie and K-K-K-Katie are my girls. But now, I’m finally on board with the reality that I’m responsible for my own happiness – and whether or not I’m sitting solo, or in a cozy booth for two this Valentine’s Day – it doesn’t affect my sense of self.
I have nothing personal against V-Day – I actually think it’s sweet (pun intended). But for those of us who are single, we don’t need to feel like shit, which is what usually happens this time of year.
It’s natural to feel left out and personally, I think there’s an untapped marketing goldmine for the flower shop, candy and greeting card companies. Where’s the bouquet that congratulates us for not settling? I want a heart-shaped box of candies with affirmation lettering. You deserve better, Atta girl, You Rock .
Whenever I’ve been single on February 14, I’ve always called it “Victory Day” – makes more sense. I don’t care who you are, when you survive emotional land mines of true love’s demise, you are victorious.
Still feel like shit? Read this list of love lessons – and remember – you’re worth more than what some candy-filled display wants you to believe.
~ ~ ~
- If someone wants you, nothing can keep them away. If they don’t, nothing can make them stay.
- Stop making excuses for anyone’s behavior.
- If you have ANY doubt in your mind about someone’s character, leave ’em alone.
- Allow your intuition (or spirit) to save you from heartache.
- Stop trying to change yourself for a relationship that’s not meant to be.
- Don’t force an attraction. And remember – sex isn’t love.
- Never live your life for anyone.
- If you feel like you’re being strung along, you probably are.
- There is nothing wrong with dining out alone. It’s sexy, even.
- Don’t stay because you think “it will get better.” You’ll be mad at yourself a year later for staying when things are not better.
- Actions speak louder than words,
- Never let anyone define who you are.
- Don’t knock masturbation (it’s sex with someone you love).
Here’s the part where you tell me: what are you doing for V-Day?
* Quote source: Izzy Huffstodt (played by Blythe Danner) from the Emmy Award winning series Huff (Showtime 2004-2006).