‘The other half’, ‘the better half’, ‘you complete me’ etc – we’ll see alot of these plastered around during Valentines Day. Sure in the midst of those honeymoon, lovey-dovey periods of relationships these phrases can make you feel warm and fuzzy, and you sometimes find yourself enjoying trying to live up to stereotypes and cliches, and in moments even finding yourself capable of recreating some of those cinematic love-fests (although your (my) versions usually have a few more embarrassing bodily function noises. But when reality kicks in, which is always does, I often find myself wanting to re-establish a connection with myself and remembering that I am enough…just as I am. Sure these dreamy soft focus moments can bring some happiness, some life enriching moments, and sometimes even some flutters down there, but without them I would still be complete, worthy, and capable of ANYTHING.
I love Disney and all of the childhood films and fairytales I grew up on, but they undoubtedly went some way in making some of us believe that one of our young adult goals, and even our ultimate goal, should be to find a mate. For girls it usually came in the form of a Prince, although Beasts, Hunchbacks, and Ogres were also factored in to remind us to see, often in a somewhat un-PC fashion, that its about what’s inside that counts too. I actually found the Beast more attractive in his full-on hairy state than when he transformed back to pouty lipped man-boy, but maybe that’s just me (it’s probably why I’m with Si). While the stories taught us some valuable lessons and morals, and characters like Ariel and Belle taught us that it’s ok to be different too – to be a quirky tomboy who loves collecting things or to be a distracted bookwork for instance – but an emphasis was definitely put on ending up with THE man. While we’re talking Disney and cartoons, has their been a big film where the main character is seeking out a partner of the same sex yet?
I don’t fully buy into Valentines myself, but the problem with constructing these sorts of anti-valentines day posts is that they’re almost a bit trendy now, and sometimes it’s feels like it’s coming from a place of charity, or just an attempt to be cool and edgy. You know, let’s make those poor lonely single people feel less crap about their situation and be the person that makes them feel happy about flying solo. Let’s make them feel okay by reminding them that it was something cooked up by brands to make loads of money out of stupid impressional humans. Come on, you know this already. You don’t need this smug blogger in a long standing relationship telling you so. You’re not all desperate to reel in a person, just so you have someone on 14th February. Yeah there may be a few ‘ow’ moments scrolling through the pictures of flowers and chocolates on social media, but not everyone is crying into their lunch come Valentines Day, and it’s about time we recognised that. Some people genuinely couldn’t care less.
BUT importantly it’s also okay and should still be seen to be just as cool to say, actually I really am looking for someone. I hope to find them soon. Or I would like to spend valentines being romantic with someone.
Valentines is steeped in history and folklore, regailed by Shakespeare and Chaucer, but there’s no doubts it has been elevated or at least amped up by the media and consumer companies. In the UK, just under half of the population spend money on their Valentines, and around £1.9 billion was spent in 2015 on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts. In 1868,Cadbury created Fancy Boxes — a decorated box of chocolates —In the second half of the 20th century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts, such as giving jewelry. The rise of Internet has lead to all sorts of new traditions which are then shared online when recieved or given. While we understand the power of manilpulation of social media and advertising, most of us have the capabiltiies to decide whether we want to accept or reject things, and we make our choices or manipulate them to suit our own situation.
I hope that a lot of singletons (I can’t decide if that’s the most annoying word of all time wbu) already really feel those great aspects of being single, and don’t need my blog as some kind of reminder. But for those that might feel sad about their current solo status I did want to bring up some amazing aspects of living romantically uninvolved. I thought I’d look up the definition of single first, and if we discard some of the obvious descriptions there’s some rather lovely stuff to be taken from a quick scan of the Oxford Dictionary. ‘Only one’ ‘More Unique’ and ‘Exclusive’ are listed. Being seen as individual can allow people to focus on the wonderful DNA that makes up the unique you. ‘Regarded as distinct from each other or others in a group’ was another one, and isn’t it nice when we can stand out on our own and be celebrated in our one person glory. I know I’ve found it annoying when I’ve been seen as ‘insert names’ girlfriend, or a plus one, rather than simply me. ‘Unattached and free’ were other words that instantly leaped off the paper. While I’m not saying being in a relationship/attached automatically means you’re not free, it certainly CAN mean you find yourself considering that other person when it comes to big life decisions (perhaps a move that’s required for work), big purchases (where you go on holiday, the car you drive, the pet you have), but also those smaller decision like what takeaway you’re going to order, what you’re doing on the weekend, or where you’re going to spend Christmas. There is definitely a bit more ease in being selfish and focus on your own wants and need when you’re single. While it’s not a bad thing to think about how your actions and decisions can effect someone else (it’s a healthy thing to practice), sometimes it can add a layer of complication. You may feel guilt if you make a decision that leans towards your preferences over theres, alternatively you may end up making a sacrifice to maintain their happiness….which can sometimes lead to resentment. I know in an ideal world we’d suggest that this should never be the case, and that our plans, goals, dreams etc shouldn’t be effected by being entwined with someone else, but in my experience compromise is a HUGE part of relationship. Again, I think it’s a good thing to be well versed in, we should all be capable of it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t at times, hugely frustrating.
When I’ve been single I’ve definitely felt like my friendships have flourished more. This isn’t because I’m a girl that abandons her mates as soon as she is coupled up, NOOOO, but merely because with all the committments and time-eating activities our days involve we are now left with very limited spare/social time to share amongst all the people in our lives. I’ve found that even if I try my hardest to be just as present and available as I was before coupling up, it’s definitely more difficult, and some friendships drifted as a result. When you’re single you have some of the most giggle inducing times together, those sorts of nights where you feel abs emerge from so much laughter. I’m not saying you don’t get them once you’re in a relationships, but they are sometimes harder to schedule in (I’ve found). This won’t be the case for all either (all of these points will be different in all relationships) but I’ve definiely been more productive workwise when I’ve been single. I guess my work becomes my primary focus and there’s simply less distractions. A live in boyfriend, who also works from home, and requires your ear at regular intervals can definitely impact your efficiency.
I like to keep things balanced so let’s talk about a couple of the joys and positives of having a partner. And I say that because I think that may be the only way I feel comfortable describing what it is when I have a boyfriend. In a work capacity, a partner would be someone that shares something with you, you’d face certain challenges or tasks together and try to find good solutions together. A team. I like this approach to a relationship. Sometimes it’s a case of taking turns, one having to spend a length of time in the supportive role, till the tables turn in the alternative favour. In good relationships hopefully this feels balanced overall though and give you that comforting feeling that someone’s got your back, will be your cheerleader, and give you a boost when needed.
My personal favourite parts of being in a relationship are having someone that I feel comfortable wearing my grossest and smelliest t-shirt and sloggy trousers with. Someone you can fester on the sofa with, in a martian-like face mask covering my acne bumps and crevaces, who won’t be fatally grossed out by my hairy legs, mascara goup, or gassy expulsions. Someone who you can binge Netflix with and swerve pricey and tiring nights out on the town with in favour of a take-away and a VERY occasional footrub. I like the sillyness too. Making up lyrics to songs that make no sense, to the melody of 90’s song most people on your social feeds would be too young to remember, while making your bi-weekly angel delight and popcorn.
I like having someone that I feel comfrtable being ugly with in all ways though, not just superficially. Being comofrtable to show your less admirabe traits and reactions, and knowing that they know thats not who you are, it’s just where you are or how your showing your feelings in that moment.
As we refer to Valentines Day and the pros and cons of your relationship status we mustn’t forget those that fall into neither category. Perhaps you’re dating someone, but it’s early days or things haven’t progressed to a point where you feel comfortable enquiring about celebrating Valentines together. It’s that tread very carefully stage where you’re kinda enjoying being cool and aloof. Maybe you’re in the juggling stage of dating, and have a number of candidates on the go, none of which feel prime for Valentines mushyness. Maybe you’ve just been through a brutal break-up, been screwed over by someone, and in an intense phase of hating anything love related. Maybe you’re just not in a place where you’re interested in seeking out a love match. Or maybe you jus think Valentines is a bunch of absolute hooha and out of principle you will be ignoring it in a way you only wish you could ignore Trump.
But I must say I also don’t think we should shame people who want or choose to celebrate either. I have so many friends who are rushed off their feet the majority of their year, parenting multiple kids, caring for ageing relatives, trying to get new businesses off the ground or simple surviving in modern times. Couples who are separated by vast distances and time zonezs for much of the year who look forward to these landmark days each year to reunite and reignite their IRL love for one another. Quality couple time is often way down the agenda for many. If this day happens to mentally give them the guilt-free permission to take that night off for some quality time with their favourite person, then it can’t be a bad thing can it? If it means someone might be more willing to babysit and give them a night off, then that’s bloody fantastic. It is means they feel like they can let go of the purse strings for one night and treat themselves to a much deserved meal out together, then hooray.
Like EVERYTHING it should be about choice. It should NOT be about pressures – the pressure to spend and be extravagant, to conform, or to deliver certain duties (you know what kinda ‘duties’ I’m talking about). It should be about doing things because you want to, not because you think you should want to.
One of the trickiest things for me about Valentines if I have chosen to celebrate it, which I haven’t on the actual day for a number of years due to other social/work commitments, is that you want it to be better than the average day in terms of romance, even when the rest of the day and all the factors the contribute to the success/failure of a day aren’t put on hold for Valentines. You might still receive emails that make your hairline instantly more fragile. You may be on your period and have the added layer of mess that hormonal IBS brings as a lovely added extra – which isn’t exactly on the wish-list for either parties involved in potentionaly sexy going-on. It might fall on a week where your partner has been driving your absolutely up the wall, so much so that you know that even the way they chew the Valentines Dinner will make you question why you’re with them. February is often a bit more of a poor month for me too, I’ve usually spent money I haven’t got on presents over Christmas, still chasing unpaid invoices throughout January (and onwards), and then find myself worrying that Si is going to see other people’s gifts on Instagram and think I don’t care for him as much when I hand over my cheap card.
The key here, and with pretty much everything I talk about on the blog, is being open and honest. Maybe make your stance on this day clear to whoever else it may/could involve . Eradicate that risk of disappointment, pressures and stress if possible. Try and spread love for all the things and people you love throughout the year, so you don’t feel like you’re playing catch up come Valentines. Don’t feel shame about wanting to share you’re life, or just that day with someone you like/love/fancy. Don’t feel strange if you don’t feel this urgency to find THE ONE, or even just A one right now…..or ever.
Are you going to subvert the stereotypes this Valentines and make up your own rules ? Are you going to ignore the instructions of this appointed day choose to celebrate the love you feel when your gut or instinct compells you to, whatever day of the year that happens to be? Will you make some special effort to make your special someone feel particularly treasured? Will you do that via actions, words or possessions? Will you finally pluck up the courage to tell that person you’ve thought of as you got sleep each that night, that you like them more than a friend. Maybe you’ll use the day to celebrate some of your most cherished friendships via a galentines evening of good food and cards against humanity . Hell, you might want to publically express the love for your cute but stinky dog. Maybe you’ll just post some Ryan Gosling related memes. Perhaps you’ll be buying yourself the biggest quantity of chocolate you can find just because the supermarkets are offering a particularly impressive array… and it would be a waste not to.
Whatever you do, and whoever you incorporate, why not take a moment, however fleeting to remember that the love for yourself is just as vital and necessary (if not the most important), and this should be nurtured, celebrated too. If today’s what you need to remind yourself to do that, well then so be it. Go on love yourself….and anyone/thing else you want to.