Have you noticed that the recently single seem to make a bigger deal about Valentine’s Day than most of the lovebirds enjoying their piece of “happily ever after?” It’s about Space. We’re uncomfortable with it. And even as the number of adult singles have outpaced the marrieds in America, there remains an “odd man out” mentality.
However, most of the “wish I hadn’t” anecdotes in my book Date Like A Grownup clearly illustrate the downside to employing a need-based focus over a “right fit” strategy. Pausing for singlehood is essential to finding a relationship worth keeping. Real, life-enhancing connection goes deeper and further than a single romantic relationship. “Galentine’s Day,” born out of a Parks and Recreation episode, is a worthy alternative holiday that affirms the lasting value of friendship. But for any singles still wrestling with a little “woe is me” at the prospect of a solo February 14th, let’s peel back the pretty pink tissue paper and take a good look:
24 hours, start to finish. You can do this. I once had to write a light-hearted Valentine’s Day piece just days after a breakup. So… I reveled in the delicious irony, duct-taped Cupid’s broken arrow, and got it done. You can too.
It can be fleeting.
Did you know divorce attorneys refer to the day after Valentine’s Day as “D-day?” Sad, but true. After the spike in flower sales comes a spike in breakups. Chocolate-covered strawberries rock, but simply slathering a layer of chocolate and flowers over a stale relationship isn’t so satisfying. Many of those happy couples you may be tempted to envy, aren’t. Happy, that is. Keep your eyes on your own life. Don’t like it? Change it. More on this at the end. Read on…
Sure, you can focus on all the guys and gals scrambling to snag the last cards at the Valentine’s Day display near checkout—or you could, instead, focus on developing strong friendships that will will outlast bad dates, stem isolation and nurture your better self. Grocery shopping on an empty stomach leads to junk food in the shopping cart. It’s the same with our emotional lives. Loneliness makes fools of us all.
You have other opportunities.
One of my favorite Valentine’s Day activities is to distribute roses and good wishes at the nursing facility my grandma lived in until her death in 2010. Regardless of my own “relationship status,” I can remind those who are sometimes forgotten of their infinite value. Christmas carolers come and go. Non-seasonal visits can be a real pick-me-up to both resident and visitor.
Better to live genuinely.
Always. And that means releasing a few weighty expectations in favor of the hope you can power with your own forward momentum. Hope is helpful; expectation is presumptuous. To get you started, focus on these three thoughts:
- Exes belong in the rear view mirror—so, keep your eyes on the road ahead.
- Appreciate the season in which you now live. What are you waiting for? Grab a pen and begin coloring in your own life!
- Identify the root of your pastel-hearted sadness. More often than not, we are mourning an apparent lack of possibility or the death of a relationship dream rather than any “perfect relationship” gone bad. Your focus will determine where your next possibilities grow.
If you’re isolated and lonely—it’s likely that the Valentine’s Day Dread isn’t about February 14th, but is instead indicative of a lack of connection—and you have some control over this! Genuine connection requires more than Facebook status checks. If your circle is limited to the office and a couple of random neighbors, begin adding connection that matters. Here in the Columbus area, we do it with Cabernet Coaches—a weekly face-to-face gathering to build and acknowledge the value of friendship in our lives. Aim to build your life out, one friend at a time.
**And remember… Valentine’s Day is the precursor to what I like to call “Discount Chocolate Day”—celebrated annually at the bargain bin of a retailer near you. Dibs on the dark chocolate with almonds!
Originally published in Eyes On News and LinkedIn Pulse.
About Date Like a Grownup: So...think you're ready? Great! Not sure? Check out my book. It's kind of a roadmap to dating well. I know, I know... we all have GPS, who needs a map these days? Well... I did. Could definitely have used one if you know what I mean. But many men and women are, shall we say, "directionally challenged" when it comes to dating. Read—and learn—from their stories. And it's OK if you laugh a little...they all know we're laughing with them. Check out my Facebook page, hit "Like" and stay in touch! We'll have fun! I promise!
Date Like a Grownup: Anecdotes, Admissions of Guilt and Advice Between Friends was a finalist at both the USA Book Awards and Indie Next Generation Book Awards. Heather Dugan is the founder of Cabernet Coaches and a speaker and connection coach who facilitates talk/discussions (How to Avoid Dead-End Dating, Getting From Lonely to Loved and more). Find articles, videos and interview clips at www.heatherdugan.com and on the Date Like a Grownup website.