"Valentine's Day is around the corner and I'm already super depressed. I am single and have been valentine-less for four years now. I just want to crawl under the covers and pretend like this day doesn't exist. I'm a total romantic at heart and I don't know how to not get down around this holiday, any suggestions?"
- Valentine-less, 28, Atlanta
I really do understand that Valentine's Day can be a rather cruel holiday for single people who long for love. You can't even go into the drugstore to buy a tube of toothpaste without being overwhelmed by red heart shaped boxes and teddy bears that say "I love you." It can also be a cruel holiday for men who have to deal with the grandiose expectations of their girlfriends and wives who may have read one too many Danielle Steele novels - but I digress.
I think your question has more to do with not wanting to be single than it does Valentine's Day - the Hallmark holiday is just triggering the reality that you want to be in a loving relationship. And there's nothing wrong with desiring that; however, your longing for it may be the reason why you have not found it. You're looking for love in all the wrong places. What do I mean? Well, to put it simply, our relationships are a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves.
My question to you is: How loving are you with yourself? Would you want to date you? The misunderstanding that many of us buy into (and movies and romance don't help) is that there is some magical person out there who is our "soulmate." Although that sounds incredibly romantic, the truth is that we are more likely to be with what I call our "soul-MATCH." Someone who is a mirror for us, a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves. If you haven't fully committed to appreciating, loving and accepting yourself, it will be challenging to find someone outside of you who does.
You say you are super depressed over this. I caution you that you may be at risk of falling into the trap of hoping someone else will come along and fix, help, cure your self-doubt, or "complete" you in some way (and of course show up with chocolates and flowers on February 14th). It's tempting to look for a lover to make you feel yummy about yourself, but no one can do this for you in a lasting way. Treat this Valentine's Day as an opportunity to woo yourself. You may find that your most loyal companion lies within you. Once you discover that, chances are you will meet someone who will share in the kind of loving, intimate and connected relationship you yearn for. It's 100% possible (and wonderful) - don't doubt that.
In terms of how to celebrate this Valentine's Day, Christine Arylo, inspirational catalyst for women and founder of Madly In Love with ME says, "Don't get around it, go head on straight into it, but do it on your own terms. Make a conscious choice about who and how you want to be. Do you want to be the poor lonely girl who doesn't have a date, or do you want to be the powerful and beautiful woman who is so in love with herself that she'd rather spend the day solo than be in a less than fantastic relationship? As women, we put way too much focus on getting love from the outside, which is why I started the Madly in Love with ME movement, daring every woman to fall more in love with the most important partner she'll ever have, herself. So instead of pulling the covers over your head, start a ME-love affair, or take the lead and throw a ME-love party for you and your girlfriends (great ideas at www.madlyinlovewithme.com.) You don't need a date or a mate to have a Valentine; you have one waiting right inside of you."
Valentine's Day is a made-up holiday so making up your own traditions is a great way to celebrate. Embrace falling "Madly in Love with YOU." Be your own Valentine. And for some extra tips on cultivating a better relationship with you, I've shared the "Graduating from Singlehood" from my book 20 Something Manifesto. And I'll leave you with some wisdom from a Sex and the City episode: "sex and the city episode- "the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself."
Happy Valentine's Day - make it your best one yet!
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
GRADUATING FROM SINGLEHOOD from "20 Something Manifesto"
If you would like to graduate from singlehood with honors, here are some suggested courses toward a degree in self substance. Graduating does not mean moving into couplehood, but mastering singlehood. It's also not about "if/then" conditional thinking--as in, "If I lose five pounds (or if I get a great job), then I'll find my soulmatch." Superficial changes only get you superficial people!
My clients have reported great success and have actually enjoyed this curriculum--give these courses a try:
1. Relish your singlehood. Enjoy it, savor it, and be confident as a Party of One. Final Exam: Go to dinner at a restaurant and sit by yourself. Do this as many times as it takes to feel comfortable and to actually enjoy your meal.
2. Go out with a lovey-dovey couple. Be able to be around and celebrate other people's love. Final Exam: Last the entire evening without talking about your love life or feeling depressed when you get home.
3. Buy yourself an affordable gift that is meaningful to you--flowers count too. Final Exam: Attach a sappy card to yourself and write yourself a love or appreciation note. And yes, guys, this applies to you as well--you need the practice!
4. Plan a vacation for yourself. It does not have to be extravagant or pricey. Just take yourself to a new destination, and explore. Final Exam: Ask a stranger to take a picture of you, by yourself, then frame it and display it.
5. Go to a party or social function alone without drinking (alcohol is liquid courage--that's cheating!). Final Exam: Introduce yourself to at least three people while you are there.