The most meaningful way to experience love on February 14th might be to widen your circle.
By Lisa Anderson
I’m single and currently unattached, so you’d probably assume I hate Valentine’s Day — but I don’t. I love it.
All of it.
I love pink. I love red. I love hearts, candy, flowers, cards, over-the-top sentiment and sappiness. Bring. It. On.
Maybe I’m an outlier. I know many people, especially my fellow singletons, who hate the day. Shoot, most of my married friends hate it, too. The pressure. The commercialism. The comparison.
I get it. And to some extent, I agree. With a recent pandemic that triggered a 25 percent increase in anxiety and depression worldwide, plus feelings of loneliness among most age groups at an all-time high, Americans have problems that refuse to be solved by Hallmark and Hershey’s.
Maybe we’re doing Valentine’s Day all wrong. After all, the holiday began as a feast day in honor of two Christian martyrs, men whose acts of sacrifice and selflessness earned them sainthood. Maybe it’s time to honor their legacies anew by creatively loving the many people around us — not just the ones we have a crush on. Instead of making the day a litmus test of romantic worth, what if we spent it in meaningful connection with others?
Here are a few ideas for making that happen.
Invite people in. No one wants to pass Valentine’s Day crying over a drink at a bar or sitting alone, scrolling listlessly through Instagram. Instead, invite people to your place and host a casual dinner, movie marathon or game night. To go deeper, have everyone take a personality test, then discuss the results. Or ask your guests to present a five-minute TED Talk on their favorite hobby or passion. The power of home is vastly underrated — and you don’t need to be Joanna Gaines. Hosting people in your personal space shows inclusion and care. Order pizza, open your door, and let the conversation flow.
Improve someone’s life. Volunteering isn’t just community service hours or corporate teambuilding; it’s a heart posture and way of life. What can you do to brighten someone’s day or lighten their load? Gather a group of friends and shovel the driveways of the people on your street. Help a coworker with a home improvement project. Visit your elderly neighbor; bring dinner and flowers and have them tell you about their childhood or their first love. Babysit for harried parents so they can get a much-needed date night. The best way to not feel sorry for yourself is to help someone else.
Meet someone new. Like attracts like; that’s a fact. It’s easy to hang out with your own tribe. But what would it look like to meet someone new — someone different from you? That might be connecting with someone from a different culture and swapping stories. Maybe it’s hearing a different perspective on something important to you. Or perhaps it’s learning something you don’t already know. Watch that documentary that will challenge you. Go to that lecture and resolve to ask the speaker a question. Finally have that neighbor teach you how to make dumplings. Stay curious. Keep learning and growing.
Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not a romantic killjoy. If you’re spending Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart, good for you. But relationships are more than the next awkward date, swipe right or random hookup. And love is more than selfishly getting what makes you feel good.
So instead of staring into someone’s eyes this Valentine’s Day (or lamenting the fact that you’re not), lift your gaze to the relational possibilities right around you. It’s a bold, meaningful and incredibly fun way to find deeper connection in an increasingly fragmented world. And if you meet your soulmate in the process, all the better.
Lisa Anderson is director of Boundless (Boundless.org) and young adults at Focus on the Family. She is the author of “The Dating Manifesto” and connects with single young adults weekly on “The Boundless Show” podcast.
DEBRA FILETA is a Licensed Professional Counselor, national speaker, bestselling author, relationship expert, and founder of the Debra Fileta Counselors Network. She’s written six books including Choosing Marriage, True Love Dates, Love In Every Season, Are You Really OK? ,Married Sex and RESET. She’s also the host of the hotline style Love + Relationships Podcast answering listener questions about love, relationships, and mental and emotional health. Her popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, reaches millions of people with the message of healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter or book an online session with her or someone from her team today!
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