Ah, February. The month of love, in which Cupid flies around, shooting his arrows toward romantic recipients, and couples flaunt their gifts on Instagram. I get it, he bought you a Tiffany ring and bouquets of flowers, Jessica*. I may sound cynical, but I promise I'm not. Maybe it's because I didn't have a Valentine last year, or that I haven't been in a relationship in a year and a half, but I've actually grown quite fond of the holiday, looking at it from a single person's existence, since I've learned the things not to do on Valentine's Day.
The annual card I receive from my mom packed with a Reese's and sometimes a Disney oversized pajama shirt is enough for me, at least for the time being. My attitude in approaching Valentine's Day, when I had a partner on the holiday for four years, was simply to enjoy one another. One year, he hand-wrote me a card. Another, he delivered bagels and we FaceTimed while he was abroad. The next year was also bagels (I like bagels, OK?), him buying me an auxiliary cord to watch Netflix on my TV, and we went to his favorite restaurant. His favorite restaurant is Chili's. I went to Chili's on Valentine's Day.
Now, nothing against Chili's — except their skillet cookie sundae was not good, and seriously, how do you get that wrong? — but with the constant bombarding of Jessica's flashy Instagram photoshoot showing off dazzling new jewelry and flowers, it felt a little disappointing that I didn't have that. I let societal pressures of what Valentine's Day should be affect my feelings when I could've just put my phone away and washed down my fajitas with a margarita. (Chili's has good fajitas, I'll give them that.) I made one too many jokes to my then-boyfriend about our low-key V-Day.
The downright truth though is even if Valentine's Day is an imposed celebration of capitalism to prove how much we care for other people (dark), the key is to not let that legitimately consume you. Simply put, don't be a jerk. While I may have endlessly joked at the expense of my ex about our Valentine's Day at Chili's, I know it wasn't the nicest way for me to behave. Hey, he did do something, right?
While this should be a year-round mantra, and something you already engage in without me telling you, it doesn't hurt to have that extra reminder. Regardless if you're single, in a relationship, or somewhere in between, don't be a jerk. Just don't.
Here are three simple ways to Not Be A Jerk this Valentine's Day:
Even if you're not doing anything and have no romantic prospects, there are people who love you. While Valentine's Day is not Thanksgiving, go ahead and call your parents who you don't call nearly enough, or whoever you consider family, and tell them you love them and thank you. As Joey Tribbiani once said, "The love that they give and have is shared and received." Wise words, Joseph.
Put Your Phone Away
Learn from my mistakes! Seriously, the Instagrams and Snapchats and Tweets and everything can all wait. Take a few pictures, then put it away. Don't look at your feed. Whatever you're doing – whether it be a romantic dinner, a candelit bath at home, or a night out with the crew at Chili's – will be much more enjoyable if you live in the moment and enjoy what's in front of you.
Be Kind To Yourself
Not being a jerk also includes directing that to yourself. It can be easy to harp on why you're single, or worrying if you got the right gift for your significant other, but it's important to just breathe, relax, and enjoy the holiday of love by directing a ton of it at yourself.
So enjoy Valentine's Day, don't be a jerk, and let me know how it goes!
*Name has been changed.
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