This week marks my third Valentine’s Day as a single woman.
I know that it’s just a commercial holiday; that it’s been created to market flowers and chocolates and jewellery and over-priced, three-course meals.
I know that love should be shared throughout the year; that you shouldn’t need one day to show your partner just how much you care, and that a card might seem like a waste of paper.
I know it’s probably a bit cheesy and slightly tacky.
I know. I KNOW.
But seeing that date in my diary still makes my heart drop a little bit.
You see, I am a self-confessed romantic. I believe that to love and to be loved is one of the greatest privileges in life and that it is one of a number of reasons why we are here. As much as I am currently seemingly intolerant to commitment and affection (ha), I look forward to one day falling in love again and finding someone to journey with through life’s ups and downs.
I love Rom Coms, romantic storylines in novels, the Ross and Rachel-style ‘will they, won’t they’, and corny romantic gestures. I’m a sucker for romantic lyrics, poetry and adorable ‘meet cutes’.
And so, being a romantic on the world’s most romantic day, when romantic things are shoved down your throats and romantic feelings are forced upon you, can be a little bit tricky when you have nobody to be romantic with.
When you have a lot of love to give, and nobody to give it to, it’s hard to watch other people who aren’t joining you in seemingly throwing your feelings into a void.
What I am trying to say is, for me, Valentine’s Day brings with it some mixed feelings.
As for my own past experiences, I’ve had good ones and bad ones. I’ve had Valentine’s Days when I’ve exchanged tentative kisses and cards at the start of a blossoming romance, and I’ve had them when said love affair is dragging itself to a messy end, with tears and impending heartbreak.
Valentine’s was never a big deal when I was coupled up, but I still liked to mark it with a symbol of love; a card, a home-cooked meal, or freshly baked biscuits. It was never a big occasion, but always a moment I wanted to mark.
I rarely had what some might call a ‘perfect’ Valentine’s with a partner. There was nearly always some drama, some problem, some argument, some awkwardness.
You know what they say; you can’t miss what you never had.
Here’s the thing, though; I still feel a bit of a void as a singleton (ew) on the 14th February. It’s just how I’m wired, I suppose, and it’s hard to avoid feeling that way thanks to every advert, social media post and marketing email reminding you how alone you are. And when you feel lonely at the best of times, that’s a little less than fun.
To counteract this, I’ve tried both ‘doing something’ and ‘not doing anything’.
My first Valentine’s Day as a single lady, in 2016, consisted of a very messy night out with my good friend Caitlin – who was also single at that stage. We got too drunk the night before and subsequently spent the big day dragging ourselves around town, each nursing a hangover from hell. I joked then that it was still the best Valentine’s day I’d ever had, despite nearly throwing up (again) over brunch. Classy.
For my second single Valentine’s Day – last year – I decided to go the opposite way. I was determined that I wasn’t going to do anything. It was just another, normal day, after all. I told myself I didn’t (or shouldn’t) care. I ended up heading home after work, making dinner, and fighting off increasing sadness in the isolation of my room. Not having any plans at all had given my brain space to ruminate on my solitude, to dwell on romances past, and to berate myself on my unloveable nature.
There were tears. It was not good.
Having experienced two ends of the spectrum as an unattached female in her late (shudder) twenties, I have decided that this year I want to be somewhere in the middle.
I don’t care if it’s commercial, overrated, tacky or pointless. I know it probably shouldn’t bother me, or get me down… but it does, and that’s that. So, instead of ignoring it, I am going to do something.
Whether you want to call it Galentine’s Day, or Palentine’s Day, or whatever, I’m going to be kind to myself and fend off negative thoughts and feelings of loneliness and painful memories of heartbreak with something nice instead.
Making Valentine’s Day an event as a single lady isn’t desperate, or sad, or defiant; it’s just about finding an excuse to treat yourself better than you may have been treated by past partners, taking time out from critiquing yourself, celebrating friendship and the non-romantic loves in your life, and making the most of the Waitrose Meal for Two offer.
Because why not?
I deserve a little love of my own.
It doesn’t make me any less comfortable in my single status, any more sure of myself, any less of a feminist, and any less independent.
It’s just nice to do something nice, even if it is pink and heart-shaped.