In this article I am referring mostly to Valentine’s Day in America. However, I do find that with the ways in which many cultures around the globe are being influenced by American culture, I know there are people all over the world that relate to what I am about to write.
I am no stranger to the attempt to cover over the longing, frustration, and grief around being single, or in a bad relationship, as Valentine’s Day approaches.
It is often a painful day for anyone who isn’t in a functioning, healthy relationship.
In response to how inadequate, unloved, or anxious, Valentine’s Day makes many of us feel, there have been recent movements over social media, and businesses that have aimed to fill the demand for something more than the holiday being what it has been for most. I have seen all sorts of businesses and services modeled around what is referred to as “Galentine’s Day”, where (single) women spend the day being creative, entertained, or pampering themselves, and at the very least, expressing love and support for one another. I have seen groups of men decide to get together to assert their excitement in being single, and celebrate through “male bonding”, such as playing or watching sports, or drinking. I have seen people throw “Anti-Valentine’s Day” parties, for all the single people to get together and celebrate. I have also seen a variety of snarky, critical memes, comedy sketches, short videos and movies, as well as greeting cards, that make fun of the holiday.
Isn’t it interesting that we put so much time, energy, resources, and effort into either coping with, or actively rejecting, Valentine’s Day? It is almost as though we consider ourselves victims of this holiday, and must actively seek refuge, in some way.
I have come to see that Valentine’s Day likely hurts everyone at some point or another, because of the fundamental belief that we are not lovable or good enough, just as we are, and just as our life is now. Valentine’s Day reminds us that according to many cultures, you are likely incomplete and unworthy, unless you are partnered, someone loves you deeply and romantically, and (then on this day) feels moved by their love and devotion enough to put in an effort, spend their resources, and make a display out of it. So, in essence, Valentine’s Day highlights all of our co-dependent, capitalist dreams to finally have our value and worth verified once and for all, by someone else. AND, (a very big AND) to have this demonstrated usually by material things, that are also of high financial value. When we don’t have that special, equally co-dependent, capitalist, someone-else, we feel angry or sad, and we might also seek to cope through our worth and value being validated by someone or something else. We spend lots of money on all sorts of creative ways in order to assert our value, on our own. We feel self-righteous and entitled to this, to make up for the ways we truly feel victimized.
Why does it have to be this way?
What if we all knew our incredible worth and lovability, already? What if we didn’t associate having money spent on us, or spending the money on our selves, with feeling good, or whole? What then, might Valentine’s Day look like for us all?
I propose that this Valentine’s Day, you write yourself a Valentine, that expresses all the ways you are imperfect, are learning, and are still worthy of love. Then place this card where you can see it every day.
If you are feeling very festive, give yourself some time to be with friends or a partner, to mutually reflect on all the ways the struggles you have gone through in life, have allowed you to build wisdom, and become the unique, valuable, people you are.
Now, try to bring this practice in to regular daily life. Then, every day will be a day of TRULY celebrating Love.
Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!