‘You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.’
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and if you are unmarried, you are part of 50% of the American public that is likely to feel left out at this time of the year. If you have no significant other, you join millions of Americans whose numbers continue to grow. Despite this fact, advertisers stage massive campaigns that equate love and affection with lavishing loved ones with material things. These campaigns increase fear and anxiety about being alone, in addition to perpetuating heterosexism and limited cultural notions about love relationships.
Here are some helpful recommendations from couples and family therapist, Joe Elliott, for building a more conscious relationship to the pressures at this particular time.
- Be grateful for how far you have come, reflect on your own path, and look for evidence of how you have stayed true to your values by remaining single. Journal or sit quietly to reflect on this issue.
- Connect with family members; nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers. Spend time with those who have known you for a long time that can help provide counsel to you.
- Connect with friends, plan a get together and give yourself a chance to share about past relationships that you are no longer in that were unhealthy.
- Spend time with animals or in nature. Spending time with a familiar pet can help us to feel needed and spending time in familiar places in nature helps us to feel embraced and less alone.
- Engage in meditation or yoga practice. It will help to deal with the natural, human desire to be with someone and to develop the strength to examine it with skill and care. Contemplative practice can also help you to experience the love of something divine.
- Cook yourself a meal. Food is good medicine. Consider making a meal that leads you to feel a sense of comfort and nourishment.
- Masturbate – Get in touch with how it feels to be touched, caressed, and sexually excited so that the next time you are with a partner, you can help show them how to turn you on.
- Take a break from technology and advertising -give yourself an opportunity to avoid the bombardment by consumer culture that plays on our anxiety and fears about being alone.
- Practice self care. Get a massage, a haircut, or spend time at a spa.
- Take amusement at the hype. Go to a local drug store or supermarket and take delight in the fact that your affections are not being bargained for with teddy bears, helium balloons, cheap chocolate, and sappy cards- more money for the massage.
There are lots of good reasons for being single, those of which cannot be celebrated in the most conventional means. Our culture continues to perpetuate the myth that being satisfied with our lives includes having fulfillment in a relationship.
Doing what makes you happy is obviously the best way to offer your unique gifts to the world and to live a genuinely healthy existence, and sometimes this path doesn’t lead towards long-term fulfillment in relationships. Don’t forget that the most complex and important relationship that we have is with ourselves and that we must remain true to ourselves in order to feel whole and complete about our lives.
How have you celebrated Valentine’s solo-style?
About Joe Elliott: Joe received his undergraduate degree from Naropa University in Psychology and Religious Studies and his Masters in Counseling from Regis University in Denver. He completed a Post-Graduate Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from The Denver Family Institute. Joe has been a student of world religions and has practiced mindfulness for the past fifteen years. He has also taught a course in Family Therapy to students at Metro State University and provides consultation on Family Therapy to non-profit organizations.