Well that is the $64,000 dollar question. We have control over lots of aspects of our lives, but love doesn’t seem to be one of them. Valentine’s Day just happens to be a day that is symbolic of romantic love to many people. In real life, most Valentine’s Days don’t live up to people’s expectations. People’s boyfriends, girlfriends, lovers, and spouses, seldom live up to one another’s expectations, even in basically happy relationships. In less healthy relationships Valentine’s Day has actually been known to be deadly to the relationship. Valentine’s Day probably accounts for a disproportionate number of breakups.
You have been lonely on the past several Valentine’s Days, but you are far from alone. The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, reveals some interesting historical facts about Valentine’s Day and devotes considerable space to describing some of its irreverent alternatives. First, there is “antivalentinism.” Antivalentinism is a loosely defined movement of people who oppose the consumerist approach to the day of “love” and those who object to the requirement that romantic love be expressed in a certain way on a certain day. Other antivalentinists object to Valentine’s Day because it causes distress to romantically unattached people, bringing greater attention to the fact that they are single and making them feel worse about their singlenessl. There are even anti-Valentine Cards that you can purchase on line!
Fortunately, Wikipedia also suggests alternatives for the disenfranchised. You can get together with friends—both single and coupled–and celebrate Singles Awareness Day, an increasingly popular alternative holiday also celebrated on February 14th. Probably the most powerful thing we can do is redefine the Valentine’s festival in a more inclusive and expanded way. I know many, many people who celebrate by sending notes of appreciation and chocolate to many of the people they care about: grandparents, best friends, sisters and brothers, teachers, nephews and nieces, even their favorite postal carrier! Brightening the day for others also brightens your day by helping you focus on those whose lives help you feel whole. As for the problem of love, I’ll save that for another column—maybe in March.