I have said this before, I detest Valentine’s Day. It is hardly the holiday itself, which is adorable by nature- the celebration of love and all. I like the idea of Valentine’s, I just hate my experience of it. So many awful ones… like the humiliation of observing throughout the day the growing bouquets of pink, red or white carnations carried by other girls in high school as I navigated the halls empty handed EVERY YEAR weather I was dating someone or not. I remember one year when the boy I was “dating” sent a flower to a rather unpopular girl in our theatre class because he thought she wouldn’t get any and that I would get dozens. Ouch! Then there was the year that as a young college grad living in New York City, my boyfriend presented me with a Swiss Army Knife – because it was red. We had a huge fight because, though I was appreciative albeit a tad confused by the Freudian interpretation one might derive from such a gift, he spent the better part of the evening apologizing and berating himself which after a few hours sent me into a rage. Or the several years I worked retail and sold thousands of dollars of nice jewelry and clothing to men who were eager to please their sweethearts whilst my guys failed to cough up the sentiment to even pick up a card. No wonder the day often fills me with snark.
H2, though, as I have said, did a good job of gift giving and being romantic on Valentine’s. He would shower me with gifts of jewelry, flowers and nice dinners. Actually, until recently and post divorce mind you, he would send me flowers. But now he is otherwise occupied and it is a day that just evokes painful memories. A day that provides an excuse for my critical self to hold a mental magnifying glass over my insecurity and nag at me,”Why don’t you have some special significant other in your life? Look at all these couples around you doing lovely things for each other today? What is so terribly wrong with you that you lack a partner?”
To make matters worse, I recently had a conversation with a woman who is not even moved out of the home she shares with her soon- to -be- ex. She is already mooning over a new man she is “seeing” but not “dating” and boasts of plans for a future together. And another friend who last year at this time was miserable in a marriage, is 365 days later divorced and starting a new fairly serious relationship. There are of course more examples- I could go on and on. And my male friends are even faster to get connected. One married within a year of getting divorced without knowing the woman beforehand. Another is simply “having trouble” in his marriage and is already looking for someone to date – just in case things don’t turn out with his wife. AGGGHHH!
The fact that these people can find a satisfying relationship so quickly pisses me off. It seems unfair. I know I am whining here but it does feel like something is wrong with me when I would not have any of these guys (either the ones so eager to find mates or the ones my female friends have hooked up with) served on a silver platter. Am I sabotaging any chances of having a relationship in the guise of being picky? I don’t know but I seem to have a total aversion to being with someone for the sake of having someone to be with. It seems to me that it is difficult enough to find someone who is actually single. After that it would be nice to find someone with whom I actually enjoyed spending time and for whom I felt a physical attraction. Outside of those requirements, being gainfully employed, non-addicted and having a positive attitude would be great. So until I find a man who fits those requirements, I will revel in the fact that being alone is better than being with just anyone.
In terms of my Valentine’s angst- I gave myself permission to enjoy being pissy about Valtentine’s rather than trying to make myself feel better and somehow it feels empowering. I realized while leaning into my angst, that I can stop fantasizing that all the couples I see around me are all happy or monogamous. (Statistics prove that many of them are miserable and putting on a show or at least one of them is having an affair.) I am resolved to enjoy my independence and embrace all the great things I have because I am single like having a bed and a bathroom all to myself, setting the thermostat to the temperature of my liking and not having to work around the schedule of some sports team’s game time on the weekend. Besides no one can spoil me as well as I spoil myself. I can celebrate Valentine’s as a day of love for me.
So I started writhing this post on February 12th and now it is the 14th. Feeling empowered as a single person who on this day can express my love for myself, I decided to go to a long anticipated concert of classical music in my home town. No date – just trusting the magic that the extra ticket would get used by someone who really wanted it and was willing to take a chance at the door. I decided I would feel my best by looking my best and planned to wear a classic little black dress with some sexy tall boots and my unapologetic full length mink (originally belonging to my mother and a symbol of her independence – she bought it for herself from money she earned from her own business). The idea- taking myself out on a date. A date which would be totally magical for ME. Looking good and listening, unencumbered by concern for anyone else’s thoughts or opinions, to music that pleased me.
Then this afternoon a text came from one of the few single men my age in my town. It was an invitation to a special wine dinner and he just happened to have an extra ticket.
Here is where I screwed this Valentine’s up. I agreed to go for the early part of the dinner which would still get me to the concert on time. I Love good food and wine but really, I have so much to do tomorrow I shouldn’t be drinking at all and I should just stay true to myself and follow my original plan, right? But no. I was lured by the flattery of being invited by a single man, the promise of good wine and delicious food so agreed to go for the first course then run off to the concert.
Evening came and I got dressed. As I started to pull out of the parking garage where I live I saw about three snow flakes drift delightfully down from the sky. Less than one minute and a quarter mile later it looked like a blizzard. Loads of snow and blasting winds so that by the time I parked at the venue, maybe five minutes later, there was a quarter inch of snow on the ground. I hadn’t seen snow like that since I lived in Boston – very unusual for Charlottesville, Virginia! Things get cancelled for less. I arrived at the wine event flustered and a tad soggy after walking only a half block in the wet snow and blustering wind, was seated to the left of the host (the person who invited me) and began chatting with the people at the table. Comfortable, sipping a bubbly red wine while snow continued to fall, I made a judgement call within a half hour of the start time not to go to the concert. It seemed like a good idea in moment. It was still snowing and I had the wrong shoes on for walking in the snow and then I would have to park and walk blah blah blah. So I stayed only to discover towards the end of the dinner and too late to change tact and make it even to the second half of the concert, that my host is obviously involved with the woman sitting across from me. The big clue was the discussion of their pending trip to Eastern Europe in the spring. At the end of the evening I left feeling at first, embarrassed then shortly following, pissed that I had ditched my own empowering plans only to discover myself in a confusing and awkward situation.
The man involved was being gracious (other than failing to mention his relationship with the woman seated across from me ahead of time). He obviously (giving him the benefit of the doubt here) invited me as a friend to join a party of interesting people at a posh event. It was nice to be invited. The dinner was delish. It was my own expectation of special treatment that got me in trouble and I am grateful that I wasn’t flirting profusely or otherwise potentially making the evening stressful for anyone else.
I am simply tired of the awkward situations that tend to be the hallmark of my experiences where men are concerned these days.
Like the man I dated for a short time who invited me and several of my friends to a party at his home under the guise that I should meet his friends because he was that interested in me. I will call him Double Trouble – DT for short. On the night of the party DT ignored me after a brief greeting. When it came time to leave I noticed one guest lagging behind, the only other single woman present, and she was obviously not going anywhere and was very comfortable. Awkward. A few days later DT invited me to go on a nice trip to the islands. I asked about the woman. He said they had a wonderful relationship that fulfilled all his emotional needs but he failed to feel a sexual attraction for her. I broke it off.
But more significantly, I am also tired of ignoring the importance of taking care of myself before others. If I had made plans with another person to go to the concert, I would not have even considered dropping by the wine event in the first place. Why did I feel it was OK to ignore a great date with myself?
Oh well, perhaps, one day, I will learn my lesson: To thine own self be true -despite the promise of a good dinner and bubbles or the potential of attention from the opposite sex.
Happy Valentine’s day!