The Truth About Valentines Day!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and while many people prepare lavish gifts and nights out with their loved one, there are those of us that dread this day. It can already be hard enough to see couples out when you pick up your morning coffee, but for some reason, it seems that much harder on Valentine’s Day.

Films and fairy tales have a lot to answer for. They wrote the rules for love stories, and propagated these myths with mass consumption. Yet rarely are real lives as clean cut as the background-poor caricatures forever thrust upon us. A story resonates with us on deeper levels because it is designed to pass on a message of survival. An experience shared to help us better know how to navigate our own lives without, hopefully, the pain of going through such times ourselves.

‘Don’t eat at that place, my friend Leslie had a whole glass of red wine tipped over her by the incompetent waitress, all over that new dress she bought just for that first date!’

Sure, not exactly a life and death story, but our need for actual survival stories has greatly diminished through the ages. I believe that where we need the most help, the most guidance, is in matters of the heart.

And mainstream stories just aren’t cutting it.

Life and love are messy. We’ve all met lovers, and we’ve lost most of them through a vast array of reasons. Sometimes we reflect on where it all went wrong, what we could have done different, if it was something we could have changed in ourselves, or adapted to, or if it was purely in the hands of the other. At which time, we might ask ourselves why weren’t we more aware of their shortcomings to begin with.

Dating, as I’m often told, is a long process. There might be a few dates before the first kiss, numerous more until the first night shared together. It can progress through lovely outings, bushwalks, restaurants and cafes, and a plethora of other activities designed to wear your purse and free time thin. This blossoming relationship might then move to more intimate settings, a perfectly home cooked meal presented with matched wines, sat across from one another on a candle lit table as the alcohol eases your defences and helps the bond to grow between you.

Eventually, maybe a year later, and months of discussion first, you move in together. You into their place, they into yours, or a whole fresh start somewhere new. And perhaps this is where those first signs of being mismatched reveal themselves. This is when you realise all those beautiful nights spent around the dining table, quietly admiring the cleanliness of the house was indeed just a three hour cleaning spree before your arrival, as most of the time their living conditions could be likened to squalor. Or that even at their age, and their years having previously lived with a woman, they still leave the toilet seat up. That the household bills are ignored until the letters arrive with red ink splattered across the page.

Because while that beautiful time of keeping the day to day away from your romance, in the end, those things make a difference. And the older you get, the less room for change and adaptability there is on both ends. Perhaps you can pinpoint their selfish nature back to so many events of their lives, but the reality is, unless they openly seek to better themselves, this is never going to change. Those historical events don’t disappear.

Which is why I said ‘as I’m told’ when it comes to the traditional idea of dating. I jump headlong into things. I want to have an idea of what I’m in for as soon as I can. And at my age, anything I become involved in is with an eye on the long term.

I say long term because I think I’ve become sceptical enough to not say forever, even though that could always eventuate. There is an average of two marriages in my immediate family, some more, some less. Only two are still going, one nearing four decades, the other nearing four months.

We like to love. We like to give ourselves wholeheartedly. It’s a blessing and a curse. I don’t believe in regret, no matter how much pain I may end up in, or worse yet, the pain I can cause to others. Because although I just spoke of the selfish nature some show in their relationships, there is a need for some selfishness, and that simply, is to be happy.

Life is too short to not be happy.

And that’s why this Valentine’s Day, and in fact every day, it is most important to love yourself first and foremost. Learning to be comfortable in your own skin, in your own heart, in your own thoughts.

When, or if, we ever then meet someone, we can be strong within ourselves, know who we truly are, and let them see that side of us. Maybe we’ll even think about how much do we care if bills are paid late or the toilet seat is left up, because in the end, does that really matter?

A rhetorical question? No. In the end, it shouldn’t matter. Because if we can love ourselves first, then we will have love to shroud another in, should we want.

This Valentine’s Day, I’m going to spend it alone, with the one I love.

And probably a pizza. And that horror movie the ex always refused to watch.

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