I originally posted this piece last Valentine's Day. I added a few observations and decided to re-post it for 2013.
I get it. I get the bitterness, anger, disappointment and sadness that many of us have on Valentine’s Day. No matter how hard we tried since last February Cupid keeps missing our hearts and hitting our ass. But I decided back in 2012 that I am going to focus on what the holiday truly symbolizes. Valentine’s Day is about love. Where is it written that you have to be in a relationship to share love? I don’t need Cupid to fire any more arrows at me. I have a set of his darts in my hand already. I just need to focus on the loves already in my life. I have plenty of significant others - I love me, I love my family, and I love my friends. Those are all important to me.
Never before have I seen so many people talk about Valentine’s Day in the month of January. Several weeks before the holiday I witnessed friends on Facebook and Twitter assaulting poor Cupid, hoping he will cough up a date or mate. People were online searching for Valentine’s Day dates using aggressive or passive-aggressive methods. Claiming online husbands, boyfriends, wives or girlfriends, not unlike selecting a lobster from an aquarium. You have no say in their decision; you are picked for their pleasure. Some even joined in a Valentine’s Day game on Facebook where certain numbers were supposed to indicate their true feelings about someone. All of these games and shenanigans are distractions because we feel bad about not having someone on Valentine’s Day. Its like Valentine’s Day is a mirror that exposes rejection, relationship failures and the artificial shame of singlehood. Its like if a person is not “boo-ed up” by Valentine’s Day then something is wrong with them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being single is not a sign of deficiency. In fact, it could be a sign of wisdom. It’s always better to be single than to settle.
At least in theory technology is supposed to make our lives easier and more productive. One would think with the rapid explosion of social media that finding love would be easier. But to me, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other social networks can make finding a date or mate much harder. I suspect people are walking away from their partners or potential partners faster now than ever before because of the “options” available online. The good thing about social networks is that you have access to people across the world that one would not normally meet. The bad thing about social networks is that people have access to you from around the world that you normally would not meet, or worse, that you wouldn’t even want to meet. To that end, I am thinking that it is more likely than ever that people are single on Valentine’s Day thanks to the ‘relationship’ they have with social networks.
Many of us see Valentine’s Day as a microcosm of how we believe relationships should be. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be the perfect day for lovers. Maybe it’s why both single and partnered folks have such intense energy around Valentine’s Day. We are searching for a flawless partner that will magically appear wrapped in the package we like, uttering the things we want to hear, and doing the things we want them to do. Perpetually blissful, continually receiving surprise gifts, lavished with compliments, showered with affection and routinely getting dynamic sex. No stress, no fighting, no problems, no worries. Clinging to this fantasy can dangerously cloud our view of what is real. We expect that this holiday will produce the euphoria that we wish we had everyday. But not to be all negative, some couples do fortify their relationship on Valentine’s Day. Romantic overtures on this day can really tie couples closer together.
Valentines Day cannot only bring partners closer but it can also rip couples apart. Just because someone has a Valentine on February 14th does not mean they are happy. I believe that more lies are told on Valentine’s Day than any other holiday. No matter how often I’m spellbound by David Blaine and his contemporaries, no magician can outdo the ruses couples engineer on Valentine’s Day. Many profess deep love for their mates when in reality they don’t love them at all. Valentine’s Day can cause the Band-Aid holding the partnership together to snap off. Too often unfulfilled expectations on February 14th point to a larger multi-layered problem between the two. When the layers begin to unravel, February 14th becomes The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre all over again as the bullet of truth mows down the unsuspecting party. You would be surprised at how many people wish they could trade places with a single person. I have learned to never be fooled by what looks like The Little House on the Prairie. In reality it could be A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Be cautious and don’t let your emotions take over. In the past I have acted out of desperation hoping to have a Valentine on February 14th. I did some pretty hair-brained things just to project the illusion of love, if only for 24 hours.
I can hear the excuses now. “I can’t stand to be alone on Valentine’s Day”. Well, if you can’t stand to be with yourself how can you expect anyone else to want to be with you? Even if the pairing is an illusion you might think, “Well, at least I have someone for that one day”. Trust me, you really don’t have them for that day. You both are on loan to each other so that you both can say you had a Valentine. Who wants to be a loaner? If you want some chocolates, go get them. If you want roses, buy them; they are on sale. If you want some jewelry, go get it. If you want a gift, find what you can afford and make it happen. If you want passionate sex, well … you probably already know what to do. No one can treat you better than you treat yourself. Be good to yourself so that when you do have someone special in your life they have a blueprint to follow.
Valentine’s Day is one of the most loved and hated days on the calendar. Its up to you to decide which emotion you let rule on February 14th. Life is too short to be waiting on a mate or brooding over what you don’t have to miss out on an opportunity to celebrate love. Death is too certain to feel bitter or angry about being single on any day whether it’s Valentine’s Day or Mon-Day or Tues-Day or any day. Too many Valentine’s Days have already passed without people like me acknowledging the loves in my life. The world has too much hate and conflict to miss a chance to have a day filled with love for yourself and others. Nothing should prevent you from appreciating and sharing time with the ones you love. You may even make someone else’s Valentine’s Day extraordinarily memorable. I will never forget about eight years ago one of my close friends in Chicago sent me a Valentine’s Day card filled with little glittering hearts. When I opened it the hearts feel all over the floor. But I gathered up every little heart and put it back in the envelope. The card meant the world to me because it arrived on a day that I was feeling depressed for not having a Valentine. That card brought me back to life. It resuscitated my heart. To this day I still have that card and every single glittering heart. Through the years when I feel unloved, unwanted, and alone I find that card and instantly I’m transported back to the day I originally got the card. It never fails to give me the CPR I need to remind me that someone still loves me – the real me, flaws and all. Forget Cupid. I will be shooting my own arrows aiming at the heart of those who make me smile. I'm shifting the focus of Valentine’s Day from not having the love “of” my life to recognizing the loves “in” my life.