I’ve got my reasons for renouncing Cupid’s little day of mayhem. Not the least of which is being dumped by my very first boyfriend on a Valentine’s Day. With a heart-shaped box of chocolates. In front of my mother.
I was 13 years-old, and literally, a giddy schoolgirl at the prospect of my first Valentine’s Day with a real boyfriend. In class, I handed him a card and a goofy, flirty smirk. He told me he’d stop by my house after school.
The doorbell rang and I rushed to answer it. He handed me the chocolates and said, “My mom says I can’t go with you anymore,” and left.
His name was Brad, and he was the first of a long line of heartbreaks. From that day forward, my father called all of my boyfriends, “Brad,” until they proved worthy of his little girl (or I scolded him for embarrassing me). When my ex-husband said he wanted to divorce, my father said, “So, he actually did turn out to be a ‘Brad’.”
I’ve never met another actual Brad, but my love-life is a pitiful list of his name sake. Emotionally exhausted after years of one failed relationship after the other, I gave up the notion of a future with a Tom, Dick, Harry, or even a Brad. I’m in my 50s now, and a confirmed bachelorette.
The funny thing is I’ve become the envy of most of my married and otherwise coupled friends and family. Being the supreme ruler of what I do, when I do it, and with whom I do it (or, in my case, do not do it, as it were), is truly a great life. I like it. There is little compromise, and I have free reign to exercise my free will. Given my history, I far prefer living like this.
But—my dear coupled friends and readers—do not envy my solo life. It is only a “grass is greener” yearning. And, as you well know, nothing is ever as it appears to be. As I like to say to those at work I mentor, every job, no matter how groovy it looks on the surface, has its boring or shitty detail.
Better put, all things in moderation. You, who are coupled, are in a position that enables you to balance the time you spend with a partner and/or children, with how much time you spend alone doing your own thing. Single folk like me do not have that ability. Single, is single, is single. There’s nothing with which to moderate it.
Let me recolor that green grass a bit more brown: You really don’t want to be, essentially, a loner. Being self-reliant and self-determined, because you are the only one who is looking out for you, always sounds powerful, fully realized and accomplished. But the truth is, we are pack animals. We need community; the acceptance and affirmation of others, and in a world that seems to go about things two-by-two, loners find going about the business of daily life often awkward and sometimes challenging.
The times I find challenging are when I have to arrange in advance to have someone come over to help me do something, when all I really needed was an extra pair of hands for 10 minutes worth of work. People are busy, or overbooked. You hate to ask. And, you hate to make them feel badly saying they don’t have time. As a result, nine times out of ten, if I can’t figure out how to manage on my own, it’s probably not going to get done.
There are other things coupled people don’t realize are a drag for singles, like being able to casually make plans for dinner and movie, or a quick, casual weekend away with a friend, without it being misconstrued as a thing, by your friend or others. Making casual friends with other singles is unfortunately tricky. Other judgments get in the way, too. I am not perpetually single because I’m not in touch with my emotions or sexuality. I’m not in hiding. So, I’ve learned it’s easier to journey out all on my onesies. Going it alone is not nearly as much fun as when you get to share an outing with someone, but I’m not going to sit at home wishing my circumstances were different.
A friend one time griped about a mutual friend’s excessive Facebook postings. “He needs to get a life!” I reminded her our friend has a great life, but he is single. Facebook posts fill in a very large void when you don’t have someone at home to throw your arms around and say, “Hey, guess what super groovy thing just happened?!” The worst is when the news is not good, and you are in tears. Nobody wants to be a burden to friends when you are in a state. They have their own problems to manage. When you’re single, asking for help, or special attention, is like asking people to help you pack and move. You hate to ask, and they hate being asked.
So, when one of my coupled friends sighs and tells me they envy my life, I tell them it’s too easy to take for granted the simple pleasure of being needed and loved by another, and to have someone who is an integral part of the fabric of your life. Unnecessarily pull that thread out, and you will unravel.
Now, not all relationships are meant to work out. I’m living proof. But many, many do for reasons that have always made feel as though I’m on the outside looking in on a completely alien but wonderfully beautiful world. It’s my own “grass is greener” fixation.
Nevertheless, I got good reason to eschew Valentine’s Day. It’s not hearts-n-flowers and a big night out I want. It’s the simple pleasure of having someone I get to call Valentine, and, if only briefly—with a quick kiss on the cheek—to hear someone say to me,”I’m glad you’re mine. You make me smile.”