I’ve Been Single for 13 Years—Here’s Why I Love Valentine’s Day

Romantic relationships don't have a monopoly on true love.

I’m 43 years old, and I have had three serious relationships in my life—lasting six, five, and two years—so in my 25 years as an adult, I’ve been single for half of them. My most recent relationship ended almost two years ago, and we were engaged, so that was extra tough. This has meant a lot of Valentine’s Days on my own, and I’m OK with that—more than OK, actually. While some single people find this holiday depressing, I’ve learned to love it because it gives me a chance to honor all the different kinds of love and loved ones in my life.

I get to remember my first love

My love for Valentine’s Day started with my first true love: my dad. He was the sweetest, funniest, and most loving man, and he really showed it on Valentine’s Day. Every year on Valentine’s Day when I was growing up, he would give my mom a large bouquet of flowers and a large box of chocolates, and he would always bring the same gifts for me, in smaller versions. I absolutely loved Valentine’s Day and looked forward to it.

In case you were wondering, this is why roses are so popular on Valentine’s Day.

It reminds me what real love is

In one of the biggest heartbreaks of my life, my dad passed away three years ago, but he left me with a beautiful gift. Not only did our Valentine’s Day tradition make me feel special, but it also gave me a great example of what a loving relationship looks like. He is the standard I hold all other men to—fathers have a powerful way of showing true love. I will always be a daddy’s girl and hold him close to my heart, but I especially love Valentine’s Day because I feel extra close to him.

It gives me a chance to watch cheesy movies

I remember one Valentine’s Day, in particular, when I was between relationships. I’d decided to just hide at home and avoid it altogether, but my dad wouldn’t let me be alone on Valentine’s Day. He brought me treats, and we watched sappy, romantic Hallmark movies—another tradition I still do that makes me look forward to Valentine’s. We just laughed and hung out. I remember he even cried when we watched one about a dog because he always loved dogs. He took what could have been a really terrible day and turned it into a happy, memorable one, showing me how to embrace the positive even in difficult situations.

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It helps me see there are more kinds of love than just the romantic kind

My friends are another reason I love Valentine’s Day. We hear so much about romantic relationships on this day, but there are so many other kinds of love out there, and this holiday is the perfect chance to reach out to all my loved ones. I have wonderful friends who lift me up and have taught me different things about what it means to truly love someone. Plus, I have the sweetest dog! Is there any love more pure than the love we get from pets? (By the way, these are the 28 ways your pet is trying to say “I love you.”) When you’re in a relationship, you’re usually just focused on that one person on Valentine’s Day, but I love that I get to love on so many wonderful people.

It allows me to love others through service

A lot of people get so focused on what they will be doing or getting for Valentine’s Day that it’s easy to forget about all the love they can give, especially to those who have a really hard time with this day. I love Valentine’s Day because I get to plan little surprises for my friends and family. I really value my close friends, as they can be just like family. So if I know someone is going to have a tough time that day, I make sure to ask them how they are doing (and really listen to their answers) and tell them how much I love them. In addition to calling or texting, I also like to give them small gifts and/or flowers. I want to make sure my friends know how important and loved they really are, and knowing I made someone else happy is the best feeling.

Check out these 50 awesome best friend gifts for Valentine’s Day.

I get to feel the love of the Earth

Nature is another reason I love Valentine’s Day. One of my favorite ways to spend the day is to go hiking or biking outside and just feel the love in the world around me. Spending time outdoors helps me feel less stressed about not being in a relationship (and about life in general) and reminds me to love and appreciate myself as well. I’m lucky, though; I live in a beautiful area with so many outdoor things to do, even in February! By the time I’m done, I just feel lighter and happier.

The pain reminds me of the joy

Now, I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression. Sometimes Valentine’s Day is a hard day for me, especially right after a painful breakup. Do I wish I had someone special to celebrate it with? Of course! But sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to, and that’s just life. However, I’ve learned to love even the hard parts of Valentine’s Day. I’m generally a positive person, but feeling these painful emotions can be cleansing, giving me time to think and reflect. Sometimes it takes feeling sad to make you realize all the blessings you do have in your life.

A small bouquet of flowers and a miniature box of chocolates

All of this brings me back full circle to what I love most about Valentine’s Day: Even if I don’t have a boyfriend in my life, I know I can still feel loved and give love to others, just like my dad taught me. And hey, every Valentine’s Day since my dad died, I buy myself a little bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates because I know that’s what he would want. And I always feel his love.

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