Alone Again, Happily? A Valentine’s Day Reflection

Judy+Greer+%28left%29+serves+as+the+literal+and+figurative+sidekick+to+Katherine+Heigl+%28right%29+in+27+Dresses%2C+a+movie+in+which+Katherine+Heigl+suffers+as+the+side+character+in+other+people%27s+love+stories.+

Judy Greer (left) serves as the literal and figurative sidekick to Katherine Heigl (right) in 27 Dresses, a movie in which Katherine Heigl suffers as the side character in other people’s love stories.

Melinda Reed, Editor-in-Chief

Once again, I find myself this Valentine’s Day to be a single person with a knack for giving unsolicited advice on love. Not to brag, but it’s sort of a specialty of mine— even though I have yet to date anyone, I talk as though I’ve seen a lifetime of romance and heartbreak. I’m the best friend in a romcom, always ready at the drop of a hat to come to your oversized New York apartment with white wine and Kleenex. I’m Judy Greer; you’re Kate Hudson. We’re friends because this kind of balance provides the story with just enough semi-realism to be charming.

But this article is not for you. I know, it’s tough. You’re used to being the center of these things. Unfortunately, this article is meant for my fellow Judy Greers, my fellow single people who are friends with non-single people, so all the Sandra Bullocks and Julia Roberts and what’s-her-name from The Kissing Booth-s can stop reading now.

Thank goodness that’s out of the way! (She’s gone! Did you see the spinach in her teeth??) Now we can talk, sidekick to sidekick.

It’s that time of year. The one you’ve trained for. Valentine’s Day approaches and you are like one of Santa’s elves on Black Friday. It’s our time to shine!

I find in these sorts of situations that it’s important to be careful. As an intern with JBWS, Morris County’s domestic violence services organization, I’m tempted to interrupt every conversation about relationships. “So I met someone,” my friend will say, and that’s when I’ll jump in with “1 in 3 teens experience dating abuse! Are they isolating you from your friends? Getting too serious too quickly? Asking for your passwords?”

There’s nothing like a good ol’ interrogation to get people to stop confiding in you. So I present the following tips for giving advice that no one (I repeat, no one) actually asked for, but that must be said nonetheless:

 

Say your unsolicited guidance with confidence.

Don’t let your friends remember that you don’t know what you’re talking about!

Don’t say daddy issues.

This is for the ladies out there. Does she have an emotionally distant father (or father figure) in her life? Yes. Does that impact who and how she dates? Definitely. Do you tell her she has daddy issues? Absolutely not. That’s a line even you don’t cross— it’s a topic better saved for therapy.

Overanalyze with them.

Not every glance has meaning, but it’s not your job as the romcom best friend to tell them that. 

Don’t be afraid to tell your friend that they’re in the wrong.

But don’t yell “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” while doing this.

Listen.

Always a good idea.

Be their friend.

It sounds obvious, but chances are, if you don’t tell them they deserve better, no one else will. 

 

You might be saying to yourself right now that you already know these things as the resident sassy best friend. “I just want to find love,” you say, staring longingly out the window of the tower your evil mother has trapped you in. Well, never fear: below you can find my step-by-step guide to getting into a romantic relationship.

 

Make it clear you’re single.

A good sign around your neck reading “SINGLE AND LOOKING” should do the trick, or write an article in your school paper about being single.

Learn the universal signs of flirting, then use them with an aggression you usually reserve for the boxing ring.

This is actually quite interesting: when women flirt, they tend to touch their necks and show their wrists for some reason. When men flirt, they mirror body positions, make accidental prolonged eye contact, or say, “Are you from Tennessee? Cause you’re the only ten I see.”

Let everyone know how low-maintenance you are.

Randomly interject such fun facts into conversation: “I still eat food off the floor, so my partner wouldn’t have to pay for a fancy meal.” “If you’re making fun of me, I probably won’t pick up on it.”

Find someone interested in you.

No, not the middle-aged man checking you out at the mall. Another guy. Preferably your age. 

Ask yourself why you want to be in a romantic relationship.

Because if you want the idea of the romance— of the prom date, of the person who will validate you and make you feel wanted— more than the actual romance, you’ll end up hurting yourself and the other person. 

Expectations, expectations, expectations.

Let me put it this way: we set out looking for Peter Kavinsky in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and end up with Peter Kavinsky in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: P.S. I Still Love You. Because we’re all flawed, and we all make mistakes, and as of now, we’re all teenagers who have no idea what is going on. Don’t expect perfection of others when you can’t expect it of yourself.

Hatch a plan with someone where you pretend to date but then actually fall in love.

This has a 100% success rate in fictional books and movies.

 

If none of this works, then so be it. You can rip up this article and throw it into the fire (which, of course, would mean you printed it out, then tore it up, then made a fire and used this for kindling). I understand, because it’s frustrating. Maybe you genuinely want a relationship, or maybe you don’t want your friend to say, “You’re the only single friend I have left.” (True story.)

Either way, it’s painful. But Valentine’s Day is not a time to reflect on ourselves and see everything we aren’t. Nothing stays the same, for better or for worse, and it just so happens that this year you’re wearing the hat of friend/confidant. That’s okay.

And if you’re still feeling bad about being single, remember that it’s not your fault that you can’t date anyone, because there is still an actual pandemic going on. Dr. Fauci’s spirit would haunt you for the rest of your days if you broke COVID rules for a date. 

Trust me. As your ill-informed, sheltered friend, I ought to know these things.