Spending Valentine’s Day as a new member of the Triad Singles Guild could be more traumatic than your divorce–if you let it. Friends plan gushy evenings at Christopher B’s. Flowers appear on desks at work. The children’s tiny, perforated Minion cards taunt you from their WalMart bag. To top it all off, Hallmark has once again left no Walgreens untouched—their lovey-dovey hearts and candy are delicate lace reminders of how you failed at love. The pressure to be part of a pair is everywhere. Do not give in!
A new relationship may not be the brightest idea right now.
The Big Things that happen to us create who we are: losing family members, having children, getting hitched…splitting up. These experiences outline our identities; they shape our values, personalities, and opinions. You’ve transformed into a different person since walking down the aisle because while you grew as a couple, you and your spouse changed one another—that’s what matrimony is. Now you’re shifting again; divorce and the adjustment that comes with it is a laborious, confusing, and sometimes anguished process.
While it may be tempting to shroud these feelings under the euphoric cloud of budding romance, consider the pros and cons. A new sweetheart might boost your self-image, let you know ‘you still got it,’ and provide a reason to wake up tomorrow. On the flip side, if you’re not emotionally equipped for it, that affection could turn to a heartache that amplifies the loneliness and defeat you’re probably already feeling. It’s better to heal yourself first. You’ll have to face the hurt eventually. Why not sooner than later? Coming into a new love as a complete and whole person will increase your odds of building something that lasts. But how do you know if when the damage is repaired?
Each break-up is different. Some marriages end and the grieving takes place long before the paperwork is signed. Others come as a sucker punch and leave a raw, throbbing bruise. Place yourself on the spectrum of recuperation by measuring your level of neutrality in regards to your separation. Do you think of your one-time partner with objective nostalgia? You’re probably ready to get back in the saddle again. Do you fume and cringe and hope they break an ankle? Get out of the stable. Whether you’re pining or resenting, constantly thinking about your Ex means you’re allowing them to be prevalent in your life, and that means you still need to get over it. How can you attract a quality person and build a healthy relationship when you’re carrying a 20-pound bag of bitterness around? If you’re in this predicament, push yourself forward.
Ending a marriage is a lot of work. It’s probably impossible to remember who you are when you’re not busy breaking up. You need some TLC! Don’t wait for someone to deliver it in a cheesy card over a candlelit Bloomin’ Onion—go out and get it! Instead of crawling under the covers and curling into a weepy ball, spend this Valentine’s Day cuddling up to yourself. Buy flowers because you deserve nice things. Take your kids to a silly movie. Figure out what the “new you” likes to do, or revisit an “old you” hobby. Do a wine-and-design or a Die Hard afternoon with single pals. Get your groove back. Turn your mojo around. Find your smile. Valentine’s Day is about the one you love the most. That should be you, always.
Besides, being alone isn’t all bad. You OWN the remote, for one—no more endless Nascar races or hours of Jackass for the ladies, and gentlemen—say goodbye to Dr. Phil (unless of course you like those things). Number two, no one is there criticizing your crazy obsessions or secret weirdness. You don’t have to share anything, and you can do what you want when you want (and vice versa) which means more closet space and instant mashed potatoes for dinner because you read a book instead of going to the store. As for February 14th, last year a waiter at 1618 told me that although they book out on V. Day, a third of their reservations no-show –probably because they’re not together anymore. You’ll be happier with a bottle of wine and your bathtub.
This year, when Cupid comes calling, stay strong, look him in the eye and say “Uh-uh. More me, less you, buddy.”