Facing the Nation of Our Relationships (or Lack Thereof)

Valentine's Day 2011

Valentine's Day 2011 - Single But Not Alone

I survived Valentine’s Day yet once again.  Another year has come and gone.  Interestingly enough, as a friend and I were discussing the topic of this somewhat thorn in the side Hallmark/1800Flowers/restaurant special menu holiday, we both came to the conclusion that perhaps the older – - wait, ahem, the wiser, yes, better word, the wiser, we become, we accept February 14th with less pain and more grace.  Or maybe it’s just that we have become dull and immune, or are too tired to make a deal of the lovers’ holiday.  Obviously, my friend and I are both single and not to say that when I was dating, engaged, married, or had a serious boyfriend, did I expect much from the 24 hours decked in red and pink.  Ok, maybe I did, but let’s be real here.  If you are in love and have a creative bone in your body, this is a holiday where you can toss away seriousness, get silly and go overboard with someone for whom you really care.

The flip side is ironically many breakups occur either right before, during or after Valentine’s Day.  I’m no psychologist nor therapist (all though I’ve been known to play one against my will) but could it be that this is a day that many of us dread for so many reasons?  I mean, it forces us to FACE THE NATION OF OUR RELATIONSHIP. Or. LACK THEREOF.  The other 364 days-excluding birthdays, New Year’s Eve, Christmas-well, ok, the other 361 days of the year we can just live our lives normally, whatever that means, but there isn’t any one clear forced obligation slapping us in our faces screaming: ARE YOU IN A RELATIONSHIP? And if you are? What is expected? A present? What type? How well do you know her/him? Because that would have a bearing on the gift.  Or do you need to create an “experience”?  But are you ready to stay a weekend with her/him?  Wait, didn’t you just see that cute blonde at Starbucks AGAIN? Maybe that means you aren’t ready to be monogamous.  And isn’t he/she pressuring you to get more serious?  Well maybe it’s time to step back and re-evaluate this boyfriend/girlfriend/dating/friends + system/situation.  Yes, you should break up.  Thank goodness for Valentine’s Day. Who knows how long you would have been dating if you weren’t forced to think about teddy bears, chocolates, flowers, candlelit dinners, and spa treatments! Whew you dodged quite a bullet.

Then for the singles (only speaking from a female perspective), during Valentine’s Day, we have to circle the wagons and protect each other and our singledom proudly.  We flaunt our independence, our freedom, our ability to do whatever we want, whenever we want. We throw cheery single ready to mingle soirees and Love Bites parties.  We have girls to our homes for cocktails and fattening food.   We stay at home and drink wine, snuggle with our dogs and eat ice cream like no one’s business as we watch Ashton Kutcher movies. We get together with our gal pals and dine out, laughing loudly, sharing stories of how delighted we are to not have a ball and chain, making sure the whole restaurant knows just how damn ecstatic we are that we have girl power.  We don’t need no stinkin’ man!

Or, we go out with our Stanford Blatch (Carrie Bradshaw’s Gay Best Friend on Sex and the City), which is what I did this Valentine’s Day.  As I looked around the lounge in Arlington, where we met up, the bar was filled with single men staring listlessly at the muted television screens, sipping their beers.  Um, that was depressing.  On a whim, we left and went to one of the more random places we could think of, the newly renovated Off the Record in the Hay-Adams hotel.  The cozy lower level bar held couple after couple after couple…well, I did spot one group of misfit business travelers coming in.  Other than that, Stanford and I were forced to be surrounded be two-somes staring into each other’s eyes.  I mean, what did I want? It was Valentine’s Day for goodness sakes.  This was what I meant about being forced to face the nation of your non-existent relationship status.

When Stanford left for a moment, I sipped my champagne, and gazed around the room.  Were these couples all really happy? Truly in their being with each other?  Or was this all about the holiday?  Were they married?  Was it a brand new relationship?  Most were young to middle age, but all were dressed up, probably waiting for their dinner reservations, maybe even staying at the property for a romantic staycation.  Snapping out of it, we decided to move onto grab a bite to eat albeit later in the night.

Thankfully, Peacock Cafe was still seating to 10:30 where we snuck into the curtained Georgetown restaurant to again be with those in love.  On one side we had the “girl group”.  On the other side of our table was a couple in bliss.  There was of course the Valentine’s Day menu (fixed price), and as I was not in any type of romantic mood, I just got the veggie burger.  When we left, I was presented with one of the many red balloons and a red rose by a member of the staff. Lovely, sweet, yes, but just yet another reminder of …

Valentine’s Day, whether you like it or not, whether you despise it for its commercialism and annoyingly weird jewelry commercials, it for most of us (who are normal humans who have feelings), makes us face the nation of our relationship, or lack there of. This year, for me, it served as a real reminder of how lucky I am.  While I have no serious romantic situation currently, I am really so very blessed to have had some great ones and some not so great ones in the past.  Believe me, they made up quite a nation.  I am fortunate to have left them in the past but they have helped shape who I am today.  And family, friends, colleagues, past and present, new and old, continue to be the beating hearts and the purpose of life for me.  For that, I’m grateful. This Valentine’s Day, my single friends’ spirits were high, keeping each other company, laughing, cooking for each other, hanging out, so as not to have anyone be just by him or herself.

I forgot to get sad and angry because I was single this February 14th.  This is the first year I think it really hit me. We may be single. But we are never alone.

Thank you Stanford for being the best.

About Pamela Sorensen:
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.
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