Well, hello, friends. It’s been a minute, but let’s begin, shall we?
I’ve been alive for 35 Valentine’s Days. Of those, I’ve spent probably 30 (minimum) of them completely single. In middle school and high school, I secretly wished, and prayed, and hoped, and dreamed that I would get a Valentine’s card, or flowers, or obnoxious stuffed bear from a secret admirer. I fantasied about some long-held crush confessing his requited love for me on February 14th every damn year.
Spoiler alert: none of that ever happened. Real life, apparently, does not mimic the 90’s teen rom coms on which I based all my teenage fantasies (see: She’s All That).
Things didn’t turn around in college and, by the time I was in my early 20’s and in the first serious relationship of my life, I was jaded and, well, a grown-ass adult who could see past the silly commercialism of a fake holiday, thank you very much. Plus, my boyfriend wasn’t exactly the type for grand romantic gestures, at least not on a day set aside for such things. And, so, even during those three years when I was officially coupled off for the day, there were no flowers or dinner dates or chocolates. But it was fine because I was actually, for once in my life, in a relationship. I had a boyfriend. We could ignore Valentine’s Day.
See, you’re allowed to hate or ignore Valentine’s Day when you’re a couple. They let you do it. You can be smug and all, “oh we don’t need a day to prove we love each other,” and all that crap. When you’re 30-something and single (and you’ve been single for the better part of the last decade) you’re not offered the same social grace. You’re not allowed to bemoan the day, lest you be labeled “pathetic” or “desperate” or—dun, dun, dun—“bitter.” Ugh, bitter single women are the worst, amiright? [Insert eye roll emoji].
Anyway, my next “serious” relationship was with a real gem of a guy and our relationship started after one Valentine’s Day and ended before the next. For good measure, we rekindled the flame before the following Valentine’s Day, while he was living overseas. So, on that Valentine’s Day (which was, in case you’re keeping track, in 2010) I sent him a super cheesy Valentine’s card sprayed with my perfume (ughhh, I’m the worst, right?). He thanked me for it, said he loved it (yes, it, not me) and he missed me. Shockingly, that relationship ended for good in a blaze of glory about three months later.
And there you have it, friends. The rest of my Valentine’s Days have mostly gone unnoticed. Sometimes, pop culture and American commercialism get together and try to shove it down my throat, whether in an attempt to remind me that I’m supposed to be coupled off and/or in love, or to try and get me to celebrate in an alternative way (ahem, Galentines, anyone?). [Insert eye roll emoji #2].
At the end of the day, Valentine’s Day doesn’t really get to me. It’s one of the easier days for this single gal to handle. Other days are not so easy. My birthday usually gets to me and sometimes New Year’s Eve and, randomly, the 4th of July. Weddings are really hard for me. And then there are the even less obvious times, moments when, say, the car needs to be repaired, or the insurance needs sorting out, or I’m just feeling vulnerable and can’t help but notice how all the other people I meet who are my age are married and have kids.
Those are the moments when I most feel like I missed the boat, or the train, or the trolley, if you will. Moments when, despite all the ways I know I’m totally OK on my own, when even though I know that I, on my own, am enough, and even though I know there might still be a train coming for me, I just want to crawl into myself and cry. When I want to curl up in bed and sleep until the loneliness goes away and it all stops hurting so much. Moments when I can’t actually do any of those things because, well, life. So, I put on makeup, and a dress that makes me feel pretty, and a big fake smile, and I carry on.
No, Valentine’s Day isn’t a day when being single/in a long-term relationship with myself is particularly hard for me, but other days are.
If you’re single and Valentine’s Day is a day that is particularly hard for you, that’s OK. It’s OK if you feel sad and lonely on February 14th. If that’s one of the days you spend wondering if your train is ever coming. One of the days when you wish you had a partner to help you sort out the broken faucet or taillight or doorknob, to have a family with, and just share your damn life with. You don’t have to ignore those feelings. You aren’t pathetic or desperate or bitter. Being single, especially for a very long time, is damn hard and you are amazing, and a queen, and strong as hell, even when it doesn’t feel that way.
Being single, especially for a very long time, is damn hard and you are amazing, and a queen, and strong as hell, even when it doesn’t feel that way.
And I know the couples of the world like to tell you that it’s not so easy on their end either. But I know you already know that, you understand it. Being single all the time is hard in a different way and it doesn’t make it any harder or easier than being in a couple all the time, just different. Our culture doesn’t like to talk too much about what it’s like to be single, though, so I understand why you want to talk about it and be heard about it. If you’re anything like me, sometimes you just want someone to listen, and to hear you, and know what the hard stuff looks like for you. And, at the end of the day, if you’re single and you don’t want to be single, well, that act of always wanting something that hasn’t come for you (yet) is really, really freaking hard sometimes.
To the single ladies out there who have chosen to be single and/or are just purely celebrating their singleness this Valentine’s Day (or any day), I hope you enjoy every minute of it. Go dancing or watch a movie or go for a long run. Enjoy every second of being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, and the peace and freedom that comes with knowing yourself, all on your own, very well. Being alone is something to be celebrated. And, while I know I talk a lot about the hard parts, I don’t take for granted the good stuff.
Whether you’re in a long-term relationship with another person, or with yourself, some days really suck. Other days are really good, and most are somewhere in between, which is where the majority of life happens.
Single friends, whether you celebrate this Valentine’s Day, bemoan it, or ignore it altogether, you are all so freaking amazing. Go to Trader Joe’s and buy yourself some flowers, and wine, and dark chocolate peanut butter cups, you deserve it.
P.S. Here are a of a few of my favorite posts about being single …
… and one about friendship.