Presumably there as many reasons people are single as there are single people. Still, we seem to fall into a few categories: those who love being single, those who see it as semi-acceptable but temporary state (ie after a breakup), and those who seek a relationship with all the fervor of religious pilgrims on a holy quest.
Regardless of one’s motives or feelings about singleness, Valentine’s Day can be a righteous smack in the face. It arrives just as you’ve started to forget the pain of being alone over the holidays. The memory has just begun to fade of the family gift exchange when little Jeremy spilled juice on your holiday dress, and you grimly realized no one gave a shit about your holiday dress anyway, because as far as your sister-in-law and your grandma and everyone else was concerned, you might as well have been wearing a habit. You’ve been single for so long they’ve given up on you… why do you even bother.
That pain returns now in full force, like a PTSD flashback, but somehow more real. Because while you could rationalize the holidays as being about family, little Jeremy included, there is no rationalizing Valentine’s Day. It is both commercial and focused, the Kardashian of holidays. Cute commercials tell the tale of a teenage boy buying chocolates for his little girlfriend, and you think about the boy you dated in high school–good luck getting him to buy you a fucking soda. TV commentators chat about what your man wants for V-Day (man Botox–who knew?), and you mutter about the gross women who buy their boyfriends icky presents. Jewelry designers find all-new ways to put a heart on a chain… that no one is going to buy for you. It’s just a gross, sticky-sweet concoction of suffering.
You could ignore all of it, but isn’t there a strange temptation to wallow in it? Maybe it’s the post-holiday thing. Everyone wishes they’d spent less money and eaten fewer cookies, our empty wallets and fat tummies making us insecure. Maybe it’s the sheer material allure of sparkly diamonds, dripping chocolate and grateful blow jobs. Whatever it is, the happiest singleton out there can still fall prey to the Valentine’s Day blues.
Some single people see this holiday as an opportunity to pick up individuals hapless enough to leave their home. Some may be shameless pick-up artists, others may just think, “Hey, I’m lonely, you’re lonely, it’s like that Blake Shelton song, what’s the problem?” Valentine’s Day is the one night of the year I would never go out alone, and if any friend I was with let me go home with a guy on that particular night, I would probably reconsider our friendship. Am I being judgmental? Have you had a rewarding V-Day hookup? I just wonder how one avoids that “Independence Day” cliche where the kid says to his girlfriend, “You don’t want to die a virgin, do you?” In this case of course it would be more like, “You don’t want to go home alone on Valentine’s Day and cry into a tub of mint-chocolate Cool Whip, do you?”
All in all it’s a pretty trying day for someone not in a relationship. With that in mind I’ve assembled some contingency plans for single folks on February 14th.
Firstly: If you can help it, leave your coupled friends alone. Be a grown-up and let them enjoy it.
Secondly: Stay home.
Things to do at home that don’t completely suck
1. The obvious, watch Bridget Jones Diary
2. The home spa routine with the facial and the pedicure
3. Bake something absurdly chocolatey and pair it with a good wine
4. Non-emo reality TV marathon like modeling or cooking show
Basically, treat this night like any other night. If you have a basketball or bowling league game, go to it. If you wanted to see a movie with a friend, see it. If you were going to stay home, stay home. The best way to cope with the expectations of this day is to tell those expectations to go to hell. You will be swept off your feet in your own damn time.
Things NOT to do at home on Valentine’s Day
1. Anything that involves reflection. While self-contemplation usually leads to personal growth, on this particular day, it is just going to lead to listening to too much Adele, talking to oneself while gesturing wildly with one’s dirty martini (made in a pint glass because, hey, why bother fussing with that shaker over and over again when you could make a “triple”?) and resolving never to speak to some relative again because it’s his or her fault you always date guys who put their vegetarianism over your happiness.
2. Any movie with Barbra Streisand in it. Trust me, Funny Girl is not going to be funny tonight.
3. Anything involving the past. This involves “stumbling across” old yearbooks buried in the back of your coat closet, Facebook-stalking an ex, grazing a folder of photos from that one vacation, putting on his old jersey, or thinking about anything that happened before, let’s say, December.
If you have to go out, read this article. Wear jeans and a cute top and the same makeup you wear to work. You are not giving off “the vibe” tonight. You are just going out for a drink and maybe a conversation with an interesting retired longshoreman who has tattoos from when ink was made out of squid blood. You are going to have two drinks and then you are going to go home. And when you get home you are going to remind yourself that this is just a fucking day, and you are going to get into bed and go to sleep to dream about a young Johnny Depp giving you a deep-tissue massage.
And tomorrow, when you go to the gym or the grocery store or walk the dog or whatever… Then, you are going to look as hot as you want to.
Because you are an authentic lover, and you will not fake passion for the sake of a Hallmark card.