The season’s upon us, singletons. You made it through Christmas chit-chat, answering Uncle Pete’s awkward questions about your “love life.” You spent New Year’s alone in front of the TV, eye-rolling at the 50th commercial for eHarmony. Then boom. Feb.14: Singles Awareness Day.
I know how you feel. I am not a smug married person. Nor am I some passionless eunuch who has ice in her veins. I, too, dream of a person to mutually comfort and admire. I dream of inside jokes and fingers to gently tuck my hair behind my ear.
Instead, my only Valentine’s companion this year will be my three-legged cat. Even if you’re in the same boat, it’s no reason to be bitter on Valentine’s Day. Romantic love can still be beautiful even if we don’t have it — and there are plenty of ways we’re better off without it. Here are five reasons not to be bitter on Valentine’s Day.
1. Not All Love Is Worth Having
Because most of us will eventually marry or be in long-term relationships, it can make love seem like something everyone has or is entitled to. But even just a few seconds of deeper thought blows that assumption out of the water. Consider the relationships of your friends, family members, or coworkers. How many would you actually want for yourself?
Plenty of people have relationships, but many of them are not enviable. If you were truly desperate for just anyone, you’d already be in a relationship with someone who’s boring, treats you poorly, or just isn’t a good fit for you. Take comfort that you’re less desperate than you think.
2. Life Is Nasty, Brutish, and Short
We as human beings should celebrate anything that makes people feel appreciated, understood, and less alone in this difficult and disappointing world. Whether you believe love and marriage are a reflection of the divine or just a biological salve to an otherwise meaningless and chaotic universe, one thing is certain: There is something beautiful about this thing we don’t have.
Also just like $1 million, world-class athletic ability, or a 15-carat diamond ring, the fact that we don’t have it doesn’t make it any less good. It is incumbent upon us as single people to stop sipping haterade and drop out of jelly school; to be bitter is to be envious.
3. Bad Relationships Hurt Worse Than No Relationships
Too often, we compare the worst of being single to the best of being in a relationship. Being cheated on, abandoned, or injured by someone who’s supposed to care for us would cut fathoms deeper than the everyday loneliness and hope deferred that comes with singleness.
While we may long for someone to entrust our hearts to, that trust comes at a great risk. Singleness may cause a chronic hurt, but at least it spares us the trauma of being betrayed by the person who promised to love us.
4. Love Can Be a Distraction from Other Good Things
I’ll be the first to admit there is something totally unique and primal about marriage. After all, the first relationship God created was a husband and wife. But the fact is, happiness with another person doesn’t come free. It requires time and emotional energy that, as a result, we can’t spend elsewhere.
If we are single, we have time and energy to explore friendships, religion, art, scholarly pursuits, or recreation in a way most married people cannot. Yes, romance is wonderful, but it is not the only fascinating and beautiful thing in the human experience. We shouldn’t let our desires blind us to all the brilliant and beautiful things we have to enjoy.
5. Bitterness Is Not Sexy
Look, guys. I don’t pretend to know much about what makes a person sexy. But I do know we’re all broken and have good reasons to hate the world. We’ve all pulled back the curtain on the deepest, truest, most vulnerable part of ourselves, only to be met with rejection, scorn, and pain. Over time, we don’t pull the curtain back as far. Eventually, we feel justified never to pull it back at all. That’s bitterness — and an admission of defeat.
Deep down, we know that despite our hurt, there’s something much more beautiful about keeping at it. We’ve all had life curbstomp that bright little ember of hope inside us. Keeping it alive shows others we’re willing to take a chance on them and not blame them for all the ways we’ve been hurt before. It takes strength to pick ourselves up and believe good things are yet to come. Maybe by next year, someone will see that hope in us and treasure it as we do.
Until then, I’m off to go watch “The Lake House” with the three-legged cat. Happy Valentine’s Day!