Valentine’s Day advice in a dating column can be as redundant as Halloween costume tips in a fashion column. Since I’m single, of course I’m told to send flowers to myself and stay overly optimistic on the big day. Since I’m single, I certainly don’t want to depress you with my words, which is why I won’t.
I remember my first real Valentine’s Day as vividly as I remember every second of today. I was a senior in high school and my boyfriend – who was the one I had lost my virginity to and had first said ‘I love you’ first to – came to my house with roses for me and my mother, along with a card which held a sweet letter and the lyrics to “The Rain Song” by Led Zeppelin on the back. We got dressed up and went out to dinner. Afterwards, we came back to my house and fell asleep next to each other on my couch.
I consider this to be my first real Valentine’s Day. On that day, I felt like I needed to feel a certain way about the entire evening. However, I went to sleep that night happy, but not heart pounding, gut wrenching and giddy like society and my friends had expected me to feel. Every year after until two years ago, I had different boyfriends who had their own ways of trying to make me feel like Cinderella, and each year I found myself getting even more disappointed (I promise this is going to perk up.)
Last year, I had broken up with my boyfriend two weeks prior to Valentine’s Day and decided even that was not going to keep me inside. My friends and I went to Cosi in Center City and ate tons of food, laughing for hours about absolutely nothing. We bought candy and balloons for each other and looked beautiful as we linked arms walking through the snow – how romantic.
Today, I’m excited for those around me in relationships, but I am also content in my own skin. I’ve realized that instead of sitting in a corner with a bucket of Mai Tai mix, crying to “All By Myself,” I can traipse around the city like those gleeful couples too without any expectations.
I have also realized that if love is truly real, in any relationship, we should not need a marked holiday in order to celebrate or define what exactly that love is. When I was little my dad used to buy my mom and I matching jewelry on Valentine’s Day and we would go out to dinner.
So even if you end up with your friends, flings, lovers, or even your family on this Valentine’s Day, do not judge your situation or expect anything from the day or the people around you. The day is about love, so receive it willfully and give it wholly.
Giavanna Ippolito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.