So I'm single for Valentine's Day, I have been for the last few, and this isn't usually something that bothers me all that much, but for whatever reason this year I'm catching these little twinges of sadness. It's nothing serious, just like a bad aftertaste that comes, almost unexpectedly, after the renewed sense of the realization. A sort of hollow, little echo on a feeling of loneliness which seems to be sitting approximately somewhere in the back of my mind. It's not even really all that important to me, the holiday, it never has been. For instance, I'm leaving my current job, today being my last day, and when I told one of my coworkers a week or two ago, she exclaimed, "You're breaking our hearts on Valentine's Day!?" and my actual response was, "Oh, really...? I thought that was, like, the 15th or 16th for some reason."
My thought had always been that it was kind of a stupid holiday, a sort of officially mandated expression-of-love-day, doled out and mediated by whichever corporate power sees a killing off of chocolates, greeting cards, and flowers. Even in spite of those beliefs, if I happened to be dating somebody when the day rolled around, I still did things and didn't mind too much. I wasn't a zealot on this or anything, I just recognized certain realities. It seemed pretty absurd to me that we saw fit to set a day aside in which you are more obligated than usual to express love for your significant other, or that it even has to be an obligation, and that this love has to be expressly romantic. Of course there's a whole advertising, consumer-capitalist component to this thing, that being that advertising itself is going to be most effective on the younger, more sexually active members of the population. And that by affecting them, in their weakened hormone-addled state, it may even be possible to encourage them to not only snag a potential mate, but to then produce an entire post-nuclear family of fresh, new prospective consumers. I mean it's pretty genius really, in a way that's pure-evil, to exploit the basest, most desperate desires and biological imperatives of your target demographic--I.E. their sex-drive, their thirst for love and companionship--and to utilize it as a marketing tool.
With all this coming from every angle, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, there really is nothing that fucks with a young person's head more than being single for long periods of time, or worse yet, being single and celibate--which having said "young person", I'm going to assume that by that very definition said celibacy is not entirely by choice, going by personal experience anyway. Romantic love really is sold to us as being "the answer" absolute, beginning and end. For instance, no other form of closure at the end of a major Hollywood film helps us to fill that hole in the heart than knowing that your protagonist, who you've spent all the 90-plus minute run-time with and have been rooting for, is getting laid by somebody. And not only that, but I think some people see romantic love, especially the most sexual kind, as being a sort of contained love that they can "get away with".
We're so rigid in our day-to-day lives, especially men, in the pursuit of our goals and the hardening of our psychic defenses, our grown-up shell, that there's sort of a taboo on the extending of basic human love towards people in general. Whether that be friends, acquaintances, or, even, in some more dire cases, family. For many of us, to love is to be open, in one of the few places where we feel safe doing so, to totally expose our most shameful, squishy, human feelings. People thirst for that, they chase it, the ability to finally offload a lifetime of pressurized emotions and hopes and dreams onto a poor, unsuspecting soul. Someone who can help us co-manage the complex burdens of our existence, a co-pilot, a partner. Coming from a male perspective, I assume it has something to do with the anima, the desire to experience the feminine side of the personality without compromising some already flimsy gender-role, and re-experience the simple comfort and complacency of that nurturing feminine warmth.
But that's largely just someone's two-dimensional ideal of love. The reality of it is that it's anything but safe, and that all that advertising should really come with a warning label. That no matter what you do or how you go about it, even if you do all the necessary work on yourself over long periods of time, even if you harden your heart and solidify that sometimes illusive sense of self-reliance, you can never truly be prepared for it. Because even if it lights up all of the tones and textures of your life, by its very nature, somewhere along the line, like anything worthwhile, it will hurt you. And if things go really bad, if you love and lose say, it will gut you alive. And, because you're a human being living this strange and mysterious life, you've gotta dust yourself off, get back up, and keep trying. What the fuck else are you gonna do? Become some weirdo who spites couples and gets mad at people for doing it? There are enough fundamentalist Christian politicians and alt-right fanatics in this country as is, we don't need anymore people who are insecure about sexuality.
I get it though, we all get embittered at times, especially with love, or the lack thereof. God knows I'm no exception, if the post up to this point hasn't been any kind of indicator. Even as I write this, typing little notes here and there in the notepad app on my phone as I go about my day, I feel the residue of that old emo morosity I used to carry around as a kid, in and out of relationships. The type of totally nonconstructive, completely internalized behavior that I almost miss having the luxury to indulge in as a self-involved teenager. Because, and there are exceptions to this of course, I've come to find I have an essentially monogamous personality, which isn't particularly sexy or interesting but it seems to be the hand of cards I was dealt. And this leaves me in a bit of a double-bind if I'm to be honest, particularly as a 23 year old male in the first half of the 21st Century. Because I feel like it would take a particularly special type of person to even deal with me on a day-to-day basis, making the search a tad bit more difficult than it might've been in a different life. It also doesn't help that my temperament, at times, can manifest itself as intensely independent to say the least.
So in any event, if you do find yourself, on this, the most grandstanding of all corporate sham-days, with someone who not only has found a way to tolerate your behavior but, more than that, actually love you for it, try and take a moment's break from the obligation of it, the aching thought of the mass nonsensical social incentive, and enjoy it. Even if it's not a spouse or significant other, but maybe you're spending the day with some family or close friends. Be grateful, take a moment to really breathe and feel it. You deserve it.