We’re pleased to host this guest post by Dr. Karen Gail Lewis. Dr. Lewis works primarily with single, straight-identified women, but you might find her tips useful regardless of your gender, orientation or relationship-status.
When you think about Valentine’s Day, do you feel pleasure? Grief? Anger? If you are single, Valentine’s Day, along with New Years, are the two most hated holidays. Too many single women say they “hide out” on February 14.
Valentine’s Day, though, is not about lovers; it’s about love. It has become commercialized for lovers, but it’s really a time to connect with people you care about. In the midst of the hearts and flowers that have become associated with this day, the origin of the holiday is lost.
In fact, there is no agreed upon origin. There are numerous stories about the man Valentine and the holiday of love. They range from Roman days to honor the god Lupercus, to Emperor Claudius forbidding marriage, to Pope Gelasium turning a pagan game of romance into a game about saints.
You can choose which version of the origin of the holiday you prefer, in the same way you can choose how to relate to Valentine’s Day. It can be a day of shame because you do not love and are not loved by a special man, or you can honor this day by acknowledging those people who make your life better. Valentine’s Day is not about lovers, it’s about love.
Here are some tips for how to make this a special day.
1. Send cards to everyone you love, male and female, young and old. Not only will the recipients feel cherished, you will be reminded how blessed you are to have so many special people in your life. For a fun flashback to your school days, buy a pack of the colorful cards you used to pass out to classmates, or make them yourself.
2. Honor the service people who make your life better. Give cards to people in your everyday life, showing how much you appreciate them. It might be the person who cuts your hair or cleans your home. It might be the bank teller who helps when your checkbook gets out of balance. You don’t have to wait for Christmas to let your mailperson know you appreciate the effort made to bring you 30 mail order catalogues a day. Think about the people who make your life easier; this is the day to remind yourself (and them) that you don’t take them for granted.
3. Spend it with friends. Specifically choose February 14 to spend with people you appreciate but don’t tell often enough. Take a favorite co-worker or office assistant to lunch. Or have a Valentine’s dinner party for good friends.
4. Send flowers to yourself. Rather than mope or feel sorry for yourself that there is no man in your life to send you flowers, send them to yourself. Flowers are the love letters from Mother Nature.
5. Monitor your music. If you are likely to have a hard time on February 14, make sure for the few days leading up to the 14th you aren’t listening to love songs or songs about longing for love or about brokenhearted love.
6. Don’t hide. Don’t pretend it isn’t Valentine’s Day. Say Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone you see. Wear a pin with hearts or at least wear red and white.
7. If you are blue, don’t fight it. Give yourself permission to be sad there isn’t a loving man in your life. Give yourself an hour, even two, for your “Pity Party.” Then stop. Move on. Be careful you don’t drown your unhappiness in excessive alcohol, drugs, or food. There is no reason to be self-abusive just because you are alone and sad.
Here’s another idea. Buy yourself or your friends a ring. This is a way to say you are OK being single, to feel connected (like the circle of the ring) with singles all around the world, and to let singles know, that at least in this way, you have something in common. You can find special rings for singles at mysinglering.com, or myspace.com/Singelringen, or nationalmarriageboycott.com.
Some married women say they get depressed on Valentine’s Day because their husbands don’t get them anything. Or, they give a last minute, perfunctory gift of flowers or a card that the secretary probably selected.
Knowing some married women aren’t happy won’t make you feel better about being single. It should, however, be a reality check that Valentine’s Day is what you choose to make of it.
Participating in the holiday tells the world you love yourself and you love others. You have no reason to be embarrassed about being single; you don’t need to hide.
You can mope or you can celebrate your life – the life you have at the moment. There is no telling what your life will be like later today, tomorrow, next week. So celebrate whatever you have. After all, right now is the only life you have.
Dr. Karen Gail Lewis is founder of Unique Retreats for Single Women, weekends bringing small groups of women together to shift their thinking about being single in a society prejudiced against single women. Visit her website for more information.