Today is Valentine’s Day. A day full of crushingly predictable expectations and equally foreseeable disappointments. I’m pretty sure most of us will indulge ourselves in a romantic love-fest of hearts and flowers. It can either be perfectly sincere or a total sham. But surely there’s more to love than a box of chocolates and a candlelit supper once a year.
This day has literally put a spell on African women, with most dreaming of a Hollywood recreated Valentine. The reality they face is that of an unbothered partner dressed in terry cloth pants chilling on the sofa watching soccer with clearly zero intentions of sweeping them off their feet.
For many; especially the single pringle, this commercially designated day of love can cause stress, anxiety, unhappiness and even depression. Valentine’s Day is all about love. Personally, it really has never mattered if I’m on my own or in a romantic relationship; there are various ways to bring the power of love into Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s through our family, friends, colleagues, or even strangers that we bump into by sheer chance. Love and the world will love you back.
Riding solo for Valentine?
It’s often said but it’s worth repeating; you can’t find true love until you truly love yourself. While being single on Valentine’s Day might suck, it doesn’t have to be the worst thing to ever happen to you. Whether you’re newly single or have been riding solo for a while now, remember that V-day isn’t exclusively for couples.
There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. So boost your self-esteem by being kind to yourself- treat yourself to a lip-smacking dinner, binge watch your favourite shows, go for a spa day (a rejuvenating massage or mani-pedi), karaoke, visit the museum, try out a new restaurant, purchase a vibrator, etcetera.
Alternatively, Hibernate. With all the bur out and stress from your everyday life, you are likely in need of rest anyway. This Valentine’s (which actually falls on a Sunday) is one good way to recharge and enjoy some quiet time by yourself. Give yourself the proper loving, pampering and attention you’d otherwise be giving someone else who probably doesn’t deserve it.
Hoping for a relationship?
Be brave. Send that Valentine (or five); tell them how you feel about them. Yes, you might be rejected, but you have to try to find that out, right? When you look back, it’s the things you didn’t do, the words you didn’t say, the regrettable missed opportunities. If you never dare, if you never risk, you’ll never know.
But then again, if asked out on Valentine, don’t accept a date just because you are lonely, needy or perceive yourself as wanting in some way. A Valentine date shouldn’t be such an important predictor of your worth that it doesn’t even matter with whom.
For the ones taken
Do the unexpected. Think beyond the hackneyed. Take time to discover what your partner really loves. Often we buy what is expected, rather than what would really make each other’s soul sing. Pin your preferences (hey, it could be tulips, not roses; a book, not chocolates; a picnic in the wild, not a candlelit dinner)
Note that the true essence of your relationship should not be pegged on the events of one day. This goes with the above: If your partner goes out of their way to make every day special and for reason forgets Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t mean he does not care. Evaluate your relationship on things that don’t fade or die.
Many partners will remember it’s V-Day only when a female colleague begins her prattle about what she got, did not get, will do, or what will not do. Don’t hold it against them. Instead, communicate earlier if indeed this day is of that much importance to you. I’m sure your partner will go out of their way to make this day almost as special to you as you are to him or her.
If you are currently caught between a rock and a hard place in your relationship, Valentine will not revive it. Placing unrealistic romantic expectations on your beloved while the relationship is struggling or dead, will only widen the rift between you. A special gift for you both would be to spend time in an honest discussion on what is ailing the relationship and come up with possible solutions.
Pretending that all is well for other people’s amusement just to get into a meaningless festivity will heighten your lack of trust for each other, as you’ll be aware of each other’s pretence.
If you’re a parent
Now that you’re a parent, Valentine’s Day should be less about romance and more about making this day special for the entire family. Because this day is all about love, it gives you the perfect opportunity to create more love in your family, not only between you and your spouse but amongst siblings as well. Simply include your children in this little celebration.
African parents express love in the same way they received it growing up-with distant support and lack of physical connection or kind words. Let’s forgo this trait and love our children freely and affectionately without the need for withdrawal and limitation.
Serve a special Valentine’s dinner; leave the kids surprise gifts; write special love notes; hug and shower them with kisses; talk to them about the things they actually love! Create lasting memories for years to come.
Spend V-Day with besties
Feeling FOMO from not having a significant other to spoil on the day? Why not treat your friends instead. Friends are vital – they free your creativity, your fun, your soul – so don’t neglect them.
The good news about this day, in particular, is that almost all of your single friends are guaranteed to be free from plans, so you can have an exceptionally fun day doing pretty much whatever you all agree upon.
Go ahead and invite your girlfriends over for a movie marathon or game night, take a hike somewhere beautiful, catch up on a dinner date, go to the spa, bake, or do a “secret cupid” gift exchange inspired by “secret Santa”.
Spread the love by volunteering
There are other people around you that might also not be getting some love on V-day. This Valentine, give away your time, energy and skills unconditionally to serve others. Do something different yet meaningful. Check out your local children’s home, animal shelter, or hospital and spread some love. Nothing feeds the soul like making others smile. So take that energy and spin it into something positive to help those less fortunate than us, because there are problems worse than being single on Valentine’s Day.
Don’t allow this “Hallmark holiday” get to you. It might feel like the world is out to get you when your surrounding is decorated with red heart balloons and cheesy love songs playing in the background. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it’s also the perfect excuse to plan the ultimate at-home V-day celebration.
Get on with it!
The article also courtesy of True Love East Africa Magazine| February 2014 issue.