Late last March, I was driving from Tallahassee to Apalachicola to attend an art festival when a sign along highway 98 caught my attention. Set near a funky shop, it consisted of a simple wooden A-frame with two things tacked onto it: a painted heart and a canvas reading “OPEN.” Although its purpose was to entice visitors inside the store, I was struck by the sign’s metaphorical meaning.
Humans are social creatures. We need other people in our lives to feel loved, valued, and accepted. To make those connections and keep them strong over time, an open heart is essential. To me, having an open heart entails a willingness to connect emotionally with others, to appreciate what they do for you, and to lend your support when they need it. Sometimes it unfortunately means letting go of someone, either because it’s the best thing for them or because it’s the best thing for you. And sometimes it means treating yourself with the same compassion and caring that you give to others and want to receive in return.
I was struggling with both of those things when I saw the sign, which is probably one reason it resonated so much with me. I had been dating someone for a couple of months who I’d fallen for pretty hard and fast, but the reality was that he was neither willing nor able to give me what I needed. Although we’d celebrated Valentine’s Day together, it had been a last-minute plan that ultimately felt lame and unsettling. We’d seen each other a few times since then, but he was clearly blowing me off. In fact, I’d invited him to join me on this jaunt, and he hadn’t bothered to answer. While I approached the relationship with an open heart, he obviously didn’t. It was time to face the facts and move on.
This year, my Valentine’s Day is looking a lot brighter. I’m finally with someone who also has an open heart. Doug is so thoughtful and considerate that before I even know I want something, he’s already done it, or at least suggested it. The first time I told him that he’s the best boyfriend I’ve ever had, he didn’t believe me. “I haven’t been completely on top of my game,” he said. “I can do a lot better.” But as usual, his suggestion for our Valentine’s Day was perfect. We’re going to the Indian restaurant where we had our first date. Aside from winning millions in the lottery and jetting off to Paris together, I can’t imagine a better Valentine’s Day than sharing curry and reminiscing about the times we’ve had since we met.
But enough about me. What about you – specifically, those of you who are still looking for that special someone? I’ve spent many Valentine’s Days single, so I know how difficult it can be when everyone else seems happily paired off. Still, singles don’t need to hide out at home with Netflix and take-out. If you want to meet other eligible singles in your area, you may be able to find a dating event, such as a Lock and Key party or speed dating. Local bars and restaurants sometimes host events for singles, too. Or forgo partner-searching for the evening and spend some time with friends. Even those who detest Valentine’s Day will find plenty to do, with anti-Valentine’s Day parties popping up all over the place. So go ahead, raise your fist with like-minded individuals and decry the crass commercialization of love.
However you choose to commemorate Valentine’s Day and whoever you do it with, have a good one!
© Karen Joslin, 2012