Don’t Be a Martyr On Valentine’s Day

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If you’re not in hot, sweaty love at the moment, in the relationship of your dreams, or in a relationship at ALL, it’s easy use today’s date as another reason to do a self-loathing pile on and beat your esteem to a bloody pulp.

Let’s not do that.

The temptation is there, I grant you. The only thing Americans love even more than BEING in love, is torturing themselves over it in all its iterations (love that was, love that wasn’t, love that could be, may be, but isn’t).

But just because St. Valentine’s Day is named for not one but several Christian martyrs doesn’t mean you have to be one of them.

Let’s gain some perspective, shall we? Do we rail against the Fates because we don’t have the perfect Rockwellian family on Christmas? Do vegans weep because the most widely celebrated holiday in this country has a turkey at its center? (Well, some might.) It seems to me that faulting yourself or feeling bad that you don’t happen to have the ideal romantic situation on this specific date in the calendar year is, well, like being upset that you’re not Irish on St. Patty’s Day. (OK, not quite, but you see my point.)

I have seen all kinds of mixed-up, contradictory advice being handed out like pennies on Halloween–cheap, disappointing, WTF kind of advice. One blogger on yahoo shine recently said in one breath that she didn’t see single as being a problem (agreed), and then in the next breath warns singles not to hang out with other single girlfriends on Valentine’s Day because it will remind you that you’re single. ??!! What? What does she suggest—being a third wheel on someone’s romantic date, or staying at home and sobbing to “Someone Like You?”

Here are three things NOT to do today:

Don’t be a martyr. And by that I mean, don’t act tortured, fall on your sword, or walk around dripping your bleeding heart onto everyone. Just because you’re not partnered doesn’t mean your life is half-baked or somehow an utter failure. As I said previously, there are more single people than ever–more than half of the households in the U.S. are headed up by unmarried people. Playing the victim gets you nowhere fast–not with your fellow lady friends, and certainly not with the opposite sex. You’ll either make dudes feel bad for you, or, let’s face it, attract the wrong kind of dude altogether.

Don’t be a hater. I also don’t really quite get the need to be part of the whole anti-V-Day movement. What does that do but put yourself in the misery club (and in truth I think this is what that other advice blogger was getting at–that you don’t want to stand around in a hateful coven, stirring a bitter brew). It’s a day to celebrate love and romance in all its manifestations. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy it, just because you don’t happen to have some dude standing on your doorstep with dimestore flowers

Don’t confuse alone with lonely. There are many unsung benefits to being single—and last I checked, the status of being unmarried was not synonymous with being lonely. Hardly! Eric Klinenberg writes about the rise–and the appeal–of living alone in his new book Going Solo (which is excellent). (Check out the interview with Eric in the NYT).Cherish and embrace your solo-hood today. You are in complete possession of that delicious blend of total freedom and complete and utter privacy, and that, my friends, is what romance is made of.