Are you feeling blue on the day of red candy hearts?
It’s alright. We’re all a bit blue – mostly because it’s freezing and our toes lost circulation around the same time we lost our sight of our cars underneath the snow. What’s that? You live somewhere sunny and beautiful and you don’t know what “snow” is? Well, congratulations! You’ve just found one silver lining for yourself that wasn’t at the forefront of your consciousness a moment ago.
That’s a good start for thinking outside of the chocolate candied box.
Single or not, most of us don't want to be miserable. It’s just really hard to change our thoughts, and the solution is sometimes so simple that we don’t believe it can serve us. I too have days where I want to wallow in isolation and spread verbal venom. The trick that usually helps is to try and sort out the source of our icky inclinations. Then, we can alter our perceptions and reclaim our true sense of what “love” means.
We often turn "love" into a reductive fantasy reality can't match.
“As children, we learn that you need to find your prince charming to 'live happily ever after,'” says University of Toronto researcher Stephanie Spielmann. She adds, “and as adults, there are many negative images of those who don't have a relationship, such as the 'crazy cat lady' or the 'spinster'."
Admittedly, our culture is responsible for some stellar stuff - like smartphones and these amazing shoes you can’t see me wearing. However, many of us had TV as a part time babysitter, dinner host, and background noise growing up. So, is it any wonder we morphed into an army of maladaptive daydreamers who held every real-world (no, not the MTV show) interaction to some Platonic ideal we saw played out repeatedly on a screen?
Seriously, though: how boring would love be if it were always like movie montages?
Valentines day for me pic.twitter.com/5DDilivG49
— Jamie (@smiler_yh) February 14, 2014
It’d be predictable and cyclical and we’d miss out on all the spontaneity. Did you ever grow from a relationship that was all smiles, hair blowing in a convertible, hand-holding, and no hurt feelings? No way! The contrast of the ups and downs is what makes our dynamics real and exciting.
Also, why is it that when we hear “love”, we often equate it to romance?
"Perhaps if we widened what the holiday meant, it might be different," Sandra Faulkner, a relationship researcher at Bowling Green State University in Ohio says. She went on to add, “Who’s against love? We could probably all use more love.”
This Lennon logic actually isn’t a bad outlook for singles and couples alike.
When we make just one person too exclusively special, everything around us becomes boring in comparison – especially when they’re not around. God forbid they fall from the pedestal on which we put them; our lives suddenly change from a Katy Perry soundtrack to Nirvana with nihilistic Facebook overshares. Sound familiar? It might sound strange, so bear with me, but love in its true sense can actually be found in far more of our interactions.
It could mean we hang out with loved ones (versus issuing empty ILY’s via text). It could mean killing two birds with one stone while connecting in nature (not literally, but by doing anything from skiing to just walking the dog).
It could also be through service (whether it’s offering to help an old lady to her car or donating time at a homeless shelter). Also, we can release our demons through writing, vlogging, blogging - any general cognitive de-fogging. Sometimes the world looks a lot less hostile after we put a label on the stuff we'd rather not share.
See? It’s so simple that it’s annoying.
It’s also annoying because we have to make an effort. The steps to self-love are so daunting we may not want to do them at all. But relationships are even harder because there’s a whole separate human being whose feelings we have to consider. That’s hard to do if we’re distracted by the misery we don’t acknowledge and blame on “anger” - a far more ego-sensitive ascription than “fear”.
Thus, the best solution is to work on being cool solo (yes, that includes observing happy people without grumbling invectives) before we start trolling match.com for unsuspecting victims of all the baggage we haven’t yet claimed from the curmudgeon carousel.
So, the next time you see a couple cozied up like Lady and the Tramp and cocooned in saccharine passion for each other, try not to take it personally. They aren’t some chimeric monster sent from below to extract your happiness and replace it with coruscating resentment.
They’re just two people.
They make mistakes, likely annoy each other daily, and their morning halitosis isn’t any more aromatic than yours. They themselves may have even envied other relationships the way you're envying theirs. What makes a couple successful, though, is acceptance. Each accepts themselves enough to like the person on the other side of that noodle – for who they are. No one has any ethereal-level happiness through a relationship to which you don’t already have access yourself.
So, take a good look in the mirror like Buffalo Bill in the TV version of Silence of the Lambs, consider your strengths and weaknesses, and ask yourself: “Would you love me?” Your reply should always be an affirmative: “I’d love me.”
When it is, you’re totally ready for a long-term Valentine...unless, of course, you’re wrapped in a human hide when you say it.