Let’s Ditch the Valentine’s Day Propaganda and Love Ourselves Instead!
I once had a friend who was constantly in and out of relationships, and never took a moment for herself in between – a classic serial dater.
Every time she would have a dramatic breakup with a guy, she’d come crying to me about how she just couldn’t be ALONE. She needed someone to lean on, someone to spend her time with, to keep in her thoughts, to worry about and to take care of. She told me time and time again that she just COULDN’T BELIEVE how I could be single and happy. As if my entire life was lacking because it didn’t revolve around romantic partners the way hers did. I always offered advice – and she always told me that she would accept it as long as it didn’t include encouraging her to take time for herself and be single.
But babes, as someone who has been happily single and incredibly fulfilled as such, I want to encourage you to challenge the idea that we need a romantic partnership to “complete” us. Because spoiler alert: it’s total bullshit.
As we approach Valentine’s Day, it can often feel for single women who are seeking romantic relationships like the ultimate culmination of a cold and lonely cuffing season. Even for those of us who are happily single, the pressure to look for a relationship can make it feel like something is wrong with us (which is totally not true!).
So why do we feel like we need to be in a relationship to be fulfilled?
Women are socially conditioned to always be in the service of others, and we are taught to base our self-worth on relationships with other people – as wives and partners, as daughters, sisters, and as mothers. We’re spoon-fed these ideas by advertisements, by the media, by friends, family, celebrities, and even complete strangers!
Women spend so much of our lives basing our self-worth on our service to others, our usefulness to others, our worth as sources of labor, of love, as sex objects – to others. The frequency of these messages are elevated around Valentine’s Day, and it can be overwhelming for single ladies – whether you’re seeking a romantic connection or not.
You may have seen Emma Watson recently opening up to British Vogue about her experience as an almost-thirty single woman. In her interview she describes her recognition of “this bloody influx of subliminal messaging around. If you have not built a home, if you do not have a husband, if you do not have a baby, and you are turning 30, and you’re not in some incredibly secure, stable place in your career, or you’re still figuring things out… There’s just this incredible amount of anxiety.”
Aside from being super reassuring to know that even famous celebs are stressing, it says a lot about the power that social pressure holds over our lives. It’s time to think critically about her bold declaration of “self-partnership,” and redefine singledom.
Oftentimes, we like to throw around the word “alone” when we’re talking about being single. My friend certainly does, and I could tell that it is – at least one of – her greatest fears. Yes, the word can carry a negative connotation and stir up feelings of loneliness and isolation. As such, it can feel icky when applied to ourselves and our current romantic status.
BUT, the word “alone” can also mean “without aid or support; exclusively, solely.” That definition totally flips the script and implies a powerful sort of self-sufficiency. In terms of how we conceptualize ourselves in the absence of a romantic relationship, there’s real power for us to reclaim.
Go take a peek in a mirror real quick. I’ll wait.
Did you see her? The goddess staring back at you? Did you lock eyes and feel your heart melt…your palms start to sweat…your knees buckle?
Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but falling in love almost never is.
My point is this: you’re never alone. You always have yourself to rely on. She’s strong. She knows you inside and out. And she will always be there for you – always. I believe the greatest strength we can have, individually, is knowing and loving ourselves. And a lot of people on the internet agree! Strengthening your relationship with yourself can have a huge impact on all the other relationships in your life, so I would argue that the most important relationship that you’ll ever have is with yourself. And in that sense, we are never truly alone.
When you’re not beholden to anyone else – that’s the sweetest kind of liberation.
Since you have now agreed with me that you are never truly alone, you may be wondering: “What do I do with this knowledge? How can I start building a relationship with myself?” The easiest answer is to just date yourself!
When you think about doing all of the things you might do for a partner, try doing them for yourself instead. Date yourself!
- You want to try that new restaurant? Take yourself out to dinner with your hard-earned cash.
- That diamond necklace that you’ve been eyeing secretly at the mall? Don’t wait for another person to buy it for you – get what you want, get what you deserve, and spend your money on yourself!
- You want to cancel all your plans for the night and just do a face mask, run a bubble bath, and masturbate all night. TREAT YO’ SELF.
- Take yourself to an art gallery opening and wear that LBD with those shoes you never have the opportunity to wear.
Aside from treating yourself like the royalty that you are and deserve to be, there are other things that you can do as part of your self-exploration. For one, cultivating your interests can provide the opportunity to get to know yourself and make like-minded friends.
Some feminists love to rave about “leaning in.” Well, take their advice and lean the fuck in to whatever strikes your fancy. Spend all day in bed reading books. Buy more books than will fit on your shelves. Buy plants and stretch your green thumb. Catch up on all the trashy TV that you can never get anyone to watch with you. Always wanted to take a pottery class? Do that shit! Learn a new language, and then take yourself or some gal pals on a vacation to practice your new skill!
Recommit to your friendships. Re-commit to yourself. Even if Valentine’s Day propaganda is out in full force, you shouldn’t feel like you need to be in a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled. Why? Because you’ll always have yourself, and in my opinion, that’s the most important and essential relationship that anyone can have.
About The Author, Elizabeth Mason
A recent graduate of UC Berkeley, Elizabeth Mason earned her degree in Gender and Women’s Studies. Currently, she is looking towards graduate school, and hopes to continue to focus her studies on womxn’s health and sexual wellness. Her main interests include identity politics and their relation to issues surrounding womxn’s healthcare and sexual liberation. She looks forward to the day when all womxn are empowered socially, politically, and – most importantly – sexually. She can be found on Instagram @elizabeth.mason.