The “lonesome single person without a Valentine” trope is one with which many of us are all too familiar. For some people, being alone (or someone else being alone) on a holiday dedicated to romance, companionship and rising sugar levels rising is a reason for panic.
I cannot relate.
For weeks now, I’ve seen the same meme posted all across Al Gore’s Internet: “So what are you doing on Valentine’s Day?” it reads at the top. It is followed by the response “Me,” and then an image of a somber-looking Kanye West staring into his phone inside of an empty restaurant.
Personally, when I looked at Kanye in the meme in question, I thought he was happy. It’s not like 'Ye has behaved his finest while in the company of others; perhaps he was enjoying the solitude because people can be so awful.
I have always enjoyed the day as much as any other one I put effort into because if I didn’t want to be alone, I wasn’t, and if I was alone, it’s because I wanted to enjoy my own company.
I have never had a valentine: Though I work hard to be the best practicing homosexual I can be, singledom has been as committed to me as Mariah Carey is to professing her youth. I date but, by the time any given February 14th rolls around, they’ve disappeared into whatever pit of hell I mentally sent them or gotten into witness protection to get away from me.
Despite never having had a valentine, though, I have never had a bad Valentine’s Day. I have always enjoyed the day as much as any other one I put effort into because if I didn’t want to be alone, I wasn’t. and if I was alone, it’s because I wanted to enjoy my own company.
We’re all conditioned to believe that not being in a serious monogamous relationship is the worst thing ever — particularly on February 14th. And quite a few people are legitimately sad to not have a date on Valentine's Day. (I know because some of the those people constantly post on social media about their single statuses, bless their hearts.)
Not everyone cares about the teddy bear your terrible boyfriend got you.
On Valentine’s Day, however, not everyone will be showing up to work pining for a rose delivery to prove to their co-workers that they’re not going to go home and keel over into a big ball of pain over not having a boo. Believe or not, but some of us can still be happy on that day and every other one, despite not having an officially-designated flower-buyer.
That said, it would behoove everyone not to subject their co-workers and select friends to the minutiae of their Valentine’s Day. Not everyone cares about the teddy bear your terrible boyfriend got you: We all know that you two are both cheating on each other and will be broken up by the third week of Lent. (Actually, even if it were as perfect a union as the one between Barack and Michelle Obama, I still would not care about that bear.)
So, maybe just mind your business, stop making assumptions and leave your single and coupled co-workers alone. Do not start a pity party in anybody’s honor; do not try to overcompensate in any form or fashion. Value Valentine’s Day all you want, but we’re not in elementary school, and not everybody has to play along.
Most of all, believe people like me when we say that we are are fine-fine-fine-fine-fine-fine-fine, (woo!) like Mary. J Blige. Do not assume that we are lying like Jessie Spano singing “I’m so excited” on that very special episode of “Saved by the Bell.” It’s okay to be single; sometimes, it’s even preferable
For many people, there’s little relationship between our overall happiness and our dating status. Not everybody cares about Valentine’s Day — not in the slightest. For those of you that do, I will lift you in prayer that you find what you need.
Because, if pumping money into the greeting card, flowers and processed food industries makes you happy, by all means, have at it. Just try to remember in the midst of spending your money that there are multiple paths to happiness, and we can each choose ours.
Michael Arceneaux is the author of "I Can't Date Jesus" (July 2018, Atria Books).