Friday, March 02, 2007

Single on Valentine's Day

February 14. For some people, it’s just a day of the week, this year falling on a Wednesday. For me, it represents my actual birthday had I not been born premature. For most people, however, it means “Valentine’s Day”, or, in proper terms, the (former) feast day of St. Valentine, a legendary martyr whom the Church officially recognized until 1969, when it was deemed that “the traditions of St. Valentine” were the invention of Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth century. Still, the link between Valentine’s Day and love continues to this day, and the feast day is still celebrated in Malta, whose Catholic calendar predates the reformed “Vatican II” calendar.

Those semantics aside, it’s the link between love and Valentine’s Day that I’d like to touch upon here, because it’s this link that brings out the most emotions in everyone. For those in a relationship, it’s a celebration, a day to recognize the relationship and all good that comes out of it. For the rest of us- like myself- who are single, it’s often a day to be dreaded, yet another cold dreary day to remind us about the one thing that’s lacking in our lives (especially this year- considering how cold it is, I think we could all use a nice, warm snuggle).

However, I’m not here to rail against the relationship or whine about how I don’t have one- I am here to reflect, to wonder why it is that I feel lonely on what is essentially an arbitrary day of celebration. Those of you who are in a relationship, I am truly happy for you- you’ve got something that works and here’s hoping it always works. I’ve been in a relationship before and I know first-hand that it’s not all roses- there’s a lot of challenges and the fact that you’re overcoming them is wonderful. I salute you, I really do.

The rest of us, well, I think it just may be time to think about what it is we’re truly missing. You see, I don’t think that when each of us reminisces about being single, the things we miss most about a relationship includes such things as “I haven’t seen my friends in ages, I see you everyday” or, “why didn’t you call when you said you would?” or “you said you’d be here at 7, it’s 7:05”, things like that. Oftentimes, it’s those petty little arguments that we think back to and thank our lucky stars that we don’t have to deal with them anymore (for those of us who have loved and lost before); and, for those of you who have never been in a relationship, trust me you may think you know what I’m talking about but you don’t- I hate to sound rude, but a relationship truly needs experiencing to really know what it’s all about.

No, rather, what we miss in a relationship are often things you don’t need to be in a relationship to experience (and are often things long-time lovebirds miss themselves). It’s the warm hug and a kiss you get when you’re greeted. It’s the shoulder to cry on, the reassuring hand on the shoulder when things aren’t going quite your way. It’s the knowledge that someone has your back when things are sour and, overall, it’s simply the knowledge that you are not alone, that someone really does care about you in this world. The thing is, none of us have to look very far to find that.

Wait a minute- what about sex you might say? Well, for those of us who think sex is an important part of a relationship- and I’m one of them- I’ll be honest, that is something you miss outside of a relationship (unless you happen to find a lot of “friends with benefits”, but not all of us are that lucky). However, what is it about good sex that you miss the most? Yes there’s the enjoyment and the climax, but most importantly, it’s intimacy, the knowledge that you two truly are one. I understand that it’s possible to have sex without attachment but, from my own understanding, I don’t believe anyone has sex with someone else without some kind of a bond, even if that bond is a fleeting one; and that bond- as I said- isn’t that hard to find outside of a relationship.

Where is this bond you say? Take a look around. Look at your family and your friends. They care about you as much as someone in a relationship with you would- maybe even more. Depending on your dynamics with those friends, they’re certainly able to give you that hug you need or that ear to vent to. For those of you who don’t have family to turn to- for whatever reason- you do have friends, and a lot more than you might think.

Yes, that last paragraph probably is quite obvious, but I think it’s also the most forgotten. I know because I’ve done it- I have forgotten my own friends in my own pursuit of a relationship, and I apologize for that and any other kind of snub. Common wisdom holds that a truly satisfying relationship only blossom when the partners were friends first, and in my ideal version of the relationship, it’s a close friendship with intimacy- which in my case means sex but not everyone thinks the way I do.

So to everyone who’s in a relationship, I hope today produces nothing but happiness. To the rest of us who may be feeling lonely, take the time to reconnect with the friends you already have, and go out and make some new ones if you’d like. You never know which one will blossom into that love you’ve been longing for. The only thing I do know is that if you stress yourself into looking for someone you’re not relaxed- and hence not approachable; and I think we can all agree you’re certainly not going to find someone if you’re not approachable.

I shall sign off now quoting that Labatt’s ad campaign from last year (not that I am encouraging overdrinking- it has a great message):

Cheers. To Friends.