My Single Valentine

Amanda McPherson

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I’ve been feeling the need to write a blog post about love or, more specifically, the search for romantic love. I’m aware that not everyone wants to be in a relationship, or that many of you are in satisfying relationships. But, today I’m talking to the involuntarily single. This Valentine letter is for the women who want to share their life with someone and can’t help but ask “WHY HASN’T IT HAPPENED YET?”

I must admit to feeling intimidated and pretty darn terrified to write on this topic. I’ve felt pressure to write something wise and meaningful and, above all else, nothing that could be construed as patronizing. All this self-imposed pressure brought on a good ol’ case of writer’s block. So, like any right-minded person, I turned to Google. I searched phrases like “why am I single?” and “dating advice for women.” Whoa! There are a lot of people out there ready and willing to tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong and what you need to change about yourself to score a relationship: “be more aggressive,” “don’t make the first move,” “wear more skirts,” “it’s a numbers game,” “don’t be so picky”… does any of this sound familiar?

After reading all the dizzying advice, I started thinking about the tape that runs in the heads of single women. It’s no wonder that women feel a sense of shame and responsibility for their singleness. It’s tough out there, and it’s hard not to look for an explanation as to why you haven’t found the right person. But, unfortunately, all too often that internal tape turns into negative thoughts and self-blame about not being enough or doing enough to be in a relationship. I’m not going to attempt to tell you why you are single or offer up a to-do list for how to get a man. But, I will ask you this one question: would you do anythingdifferently? When you look at how you live your life, does it bring you peace and comfort – and maybe even a sense of pride? If it does, then what is it about you that needs to change?

If you are open and vulnerable to the idea of love and relationships, don’t change a thing.

If you are “putting yourself out there” in a way that honors your authenticity and values, don’t change a thing.

If you are waiting for the right fit – even if it means being alone for now, don’t change a thing.

If you can accept imperfection in others and yourself, don’t change a thing.

If you are pursuing work or activities that fulfill you, don’t change a thing.

If you have relationships that help you to be your best self, don’t change a thing.

If you are a source of love and encouragement to others, don’t change a thing.

If you take care of yourself mentally, physically and emotionally, don’t change a thing.

I think you get my drift.

Listen, being single can really suck sometimes. I’m not going to try to sugar coat the pain that comes with wanting to share your life with someone and it feeling out of reach. It’s okay to be sad about it sometimes, abuse chocolate in times of need, and to cry out “WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG?!” But, at the end of this well-deserved venting session, I do hope you’ll ask yourself “would I do anything differently?” If you can say no to that question, I hope you’ll also spend some time celebrating how awesome you are. I hope you’ll take a moment to marvel at your life; a life that you have worked hard to create; a life that is being lived with intention, strength and character.

A few years ago, I was having a conversation with a male co-worker about relationships and my sadness about my state of singleness. OK, if I’m honest, it was one of many conversations I had made this kind man patiently endure on this topic. After listening to me drone on about my horrible affliction for the gazillionth time, he asked with a voice of exasperation, “Amanda, why do you let being single define you so much?” I remember it like it was yesterday because it struck me deeply and I felt embarrassed. He was right. Something clicked and I realized that he didn’t see me as his “single friend Amanda.” He saw me as a smart, funny, interesting woman and he was baffled – and almost angry – that I could not see myself the same way simply because I was single.

Yes, you may be single. But, you are so much more. I know you may already know that, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded, especially at a time when you’re literally being smacked in the face with heart-shaped balloons. No one can guarantee you a relationship, but being able to say “I wouldn’t do anything differently” can help ease the sting of the disappointments and help to put you in an emotional space that allows you to be open and ready for the many gifts this life has in store for you.

And, if there are some things that you would like to change about how you’re living, I encourage you to think about what you’re waiting for. Are you waiting to pursue a career you love until you have a partner? Are you afraid that if you get too busy loving your life you’ll miss out on meeting someone? Are you letting your fears and insecurities rule your decision making? Maybe it’s time to quit letting your singleness define you. You deserve so much more.

Girl, you are such an amazing Valentine!

Amanda McPherson, Licensed Professional Counselor- InternSupervised by Kat Elrod, LPC-S

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