There was a time, when I was single, that February 14 would be a dreaded reminder of my relationship status. Social feed would flood with photos of couples locking it down as restaurants filled to the brim of duos locking lips. And there I was, eagerly swiping away on apps to the point of almost burning a hole in my iPhone. Yes; yes; no; sure; why not; oh hell no; wtf?? My lack of a plus one defined me even as I dove to the bottom of the dating pool.
Eventually, after my dating anecdotes tipped the scale from amusing to downright horrifying, I embraced my individuality. Anything was better than the love game I was playing. I adopted the trend of celebrating Valentines Day with my girlfriends, rather than seeking a significant other. Galentines Day became far more fun than any romantic evening I could’ve had. Who needs candlelit dinners and sweet talking when you have brunch and cute waiters? I may have been unattached but I definitely wasn’t alone. In that, I successfully freed myself from the stigma of being single.
Once I found the love within myself the rest of my life fell into place, from stronger family ties to better career opportunities. Ironically, at the height of my ‘independent woman’ phase is when the right relationship discovered me. We met at a wedding where the only swiping that was done was the sharing of our dinner plates. That night I realized why nothing else worked out. All of my dating dead ends directed me towards the path that would make sense.
Nearly six months later and my, now, boyfriend is constantly proving his affections for me, beyond the dinner dates and boxes of chocolate. Oftentimes, I’m greeted with my favorite snack from Trader Joe’s, a home cooked meal, a new book to read, even a local beer which he brought back from a work trip. He sees every day together as a small opportunity to celebrate what I mean to him. I like to think, through my actions, he feels the same.
Ironically, in light of my new relationship status, I’ve decided to forgo participating in Valentines Day this year with my beau. Amid all the other gestures made on a weekly basis, something, I’ll admit, I’m not used to, pronouncing a sole day to celebrate what we mean to each other seems superfluous. I’ll save such high expectations for our anniversary.
Valentines Day has become a Validation Day of sorts. Many of us, myself included once upon a time, measure our emotional value every 14th of February. We go to the ends of the earth, and internet, in search of recognition that we are, indeed, desired. But isn’t the real love we need within ourselves? Self-love is what sets the standard for all other love that enter our lives.
So, this year and all years to follow, I’m switching up the traditional V-Day routine. In lieu of celebrating the love I receive, I’m acknowledging the love I’ve created all around me.
I love you, Valentines Day, but I love me, too.