Valentines Day is a time for romance, where two (or more, no judgement) partners connect intimately and take a day to show respect for their flourishing or long-lasting relationships.
Unless you're single in which case Valentines Day represents a humilating day of disrespect and anguish.
But it doesn't really, and I'll explain why. Sit tight folks, cuz this is gonna get messy and personal.
So let's do my favourite activity and talk about me.
Right now I'm in my early-mid twenties and am finishing post-secondary school within the next few months. I'm getting that coveted degree in journalism and am hoping to be getting a job at some kind of media-related outlet within the next couple months. Obviously it's a turbulent job field right now, so I reasonably expect it may take anywhere from a few months to a year to find solid employment (i.e: not at Starbucks), but I'm applying for jobs often and I'm okay with moving if necessary.
And moving is a big concept. For the record, I live in Canada. Canada is the second largest country on earth. Like the United States, if you laid down the entirety of europe across a map of Canada, it would only cover roughly half the distance. Most of the journalism jobs are in eastern Canada, while I'm in the west, so moving is a big prospect that I've figured I'm okay with.
So in any number of months to a year or maybe three or four I could be moving a very far distance away for a job opportunity. That doesn't sound like a prime situation for maintaining a relationship. Spoilers: long distance relationships don't work. I've seen that fire set itself too many times.
There's really no point in getting into a relationship now when I don't know how far apart I'd be from my prospective partner, and I reasonably would not expect them to up and move with me. Considering the job market, I feel far more comfortable being solo right now, since it gives me greater options .
But that's a practical reason why I'm okay with being single. It doesn't explain why I feel emotionally fulfilled and don't desire a romantic partner right now.
Well, that's honestly down to each person as an individual. I, personally, am not a very co-dependant person. While I consider myself extroverted (I'm the type of person to walk into the store and chat with the store clerk for an hour, for better or worse), I don't find myself needing too many other people for significant emotional support. Compare that to an old friend of mine, who thrived on the emotional support of others. He needed a significant other at all times to reaffirm basically everything he said and did, and if there was a breakup, as there often was, it wasn't long before he was together with someone else. Because that's the type of person he was, he needed someone to be that crutch for him.
A visual representation of said friend
That's not to criticize this friend too much, because he needed that level of emotional support on a deeply personal level. I, on the other hand, am more independant. It's just two separate personality types, though if I had to say which one is preferred it would be mine. Quite frankly, relying on others to keep yourself from being a complete mess is a recipe for disaster. You should maintain some level of autonomy, and rely on your support structures as often as you need them... but not at all times.
What I'm trying to say is that everyone is different, and no one is going to find singlehood as easy as someone else. It's all relative.
With that said, I do think a lot of people tend to invest themselves into relationships they probably shouldn't, and people should take the opportunity to enjoy singleness.
At the start of my university career, I went out with a person for about a year. It was a good, healthy relationship that hit some bumps, but otherwise I felt like we were both happy with each other. However, I generally was not feeling into it, and didn't feel like I was reciprocating my partner's romantic affections well enough. In the end, I had a conversation and said I didn't feel as invested in the relationship as I should, so we ended it.
And in effect, I felt much better. Without the weight of the relationship on my shoulders, I feel like we formed a pretty solid friendship and learned way more about each other. We fostered something more honest, and I was better able to deal and help with some of the things she was struggling with.
A lot of people say a significant relationship is like being tied down. I like to think of it differently. Being in a relationship and being single are two different lenses of seeing the world. I found that one lens provided something more open and enjoyable. At some point I will yearn to see the world through that other perspective and get back into dating, but for now I'm happy seeing the world from where I am. I've experienced my pseudo-adult life as both a single and not-single person, and found singlehood to be a better fit for where I am now.
For some people, they might think they do need to be in a relationship and experience that perspective, and I totally support that. But too many people think being in a relationship is the only way, or the ultimate way of experiencing things. Too few people take a step back and say they want to just be single and see the world that way, in the short term or in the long term.
But let's get to the burning part. The sex part.
Look, I'm going to be honest here, I may be "cheating" in the whole singleness thing. And for some of you, that may be the solution. Others, maybe not.
So to explain: I have an FWB.
Me and this partner from my early university days hooked up and began a sexual relationship. We hang out, watch a movie, enjoy some episodes of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and then grind against each other like sandpaper on a piece of soft lumber.
I've talked a lot about romantic and supportive needs, but sexual needs are just as important. A lot of people downplay sex in a relationship, but sexual compatibility is incredibly important. If there isn't a red-hot fire in the loins, it just isn't there. This isn't the case with all people, particularly with asexuals, but for most people if that oompf isn't there, I'm afraid that relationship probably doesn't have the spark necessary for it to last.
I realize this isn't a scenario that everyone thinks they can pull off. I've heard the criticisms. "What if you two fall for each other?" "What happens if you develop feelings for other people?" "Can you really call yourself friends if you're banging?"
I'll answer those questions in order: By communicating, by communicating and by communicating.
A sexual relationship and a romantic one both rely on two people being open and honest. Setting boundaries, when things should end, doing things with other people or whatever are all things that should be discussed. As long as things are crystal clear and you make sure your feelings are well-communicated, things will be alright. For example, saying "Just so you know, I would have basically zero romantic involvement in this and while things will get intimate, this is purely for me to get my rocks off" is a great way to establish things walking in.
But a lot of people don't think that option is on the table, when it could be. Sometimes friendships have an inherently sexual element to them, and they don't go anywhere. Which is fine. I've had lots of relationships where I've made very sexual jokes and been very open with sexual conversations. There have been flirtatious elements to friendships that neither of us have fully acted upon. I've read about people who have gotten out of a bad relationship and needed that level of intimacy and met their sexual needs by going to friends. Are all friendships like this? Absolutely goddam not, but if you have a friend and you are at that level, there's no harm in suggesting that you develop a sexual relationship. If the answer is no, then you simply play the hand you're dealt and roll with it. It's like being rejected, it's only as awkward as you want to make it.
Is any of my advice going to 100% apply to everyone? Nope, but at the very least I feel as though it may help at least one person find some comfort in being single and take advantage of that opportunity, rather that constantly yearn for something that might not be appropriate for them.
I don't know if I got a little too personal here, but I just want to share my perspective on things. In the end, I think people just want to be happy. I want to be happy too. If happiness comes from snuggling up to your real-life waifu, then that's also fantastic. If happiness comes from sitting alone and listening to some Adele while jerking off, then that's fantastic. In the end, everyone should do what makes them the happiest, and I just wanted to share that sometimes people go down the wrong path when trying to do that.
Love yourself today. Get yourself some hot cocoa and play some Overwatch or whatever makes you feel good. If you're single, don't think about Valentines Day as a beacon of your loneliness, but celebrate it as an opportunity to better yourself and experience the world from that point of view.
So happy Valentine's Day everybody. <3