Valentine’s Day is truly a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, you have a number of people who appear to be blessed to have someone they love in their lives (and who presumably love them back). Many enjoy reflecting that sunshine out into the eyes of everyone around them like a little kid with a pocket mirror by posting endless proclamations on their Facebook and Twitter accounts for all the world to see. On the alternate hand, you have single people who fear this holiday more than a paper cut in a lemon juice factory. I probably fall into the latter group this time around, however I certainly do have a sliver of happiness for my friends who have managed to find people to “enhance” their lives.
However, this Valentine’s Day I spent a good amount of time reflecting on whether or not I would want trade places with some of them and surprisingly, the answer was a resounding “No.”
Exploration of this thought took me deep into the caverns of my own psychological choices. Why not trade places with those who seem to have it all? Why would you not want to have that affection and closeness on a day such as this? The answers were relatively simple. I do, of course, wish to leave this heavy coat of loneliness in a Goodwill donation bin but not at the price of leaving something else in its pockets which is of far greater value: my principles. All but perhaps 2 or 3 relationships that I witness in my friendship orbit involve some kind of horrible compromise. Whether it is broken trust, covert infidelities, or mutual hatred of being alone, these compromises – while not entirely visible to the untrained eye – harbor something I would never want in my future: a false promise. A marriage built on something that may not be entirely real or lasting. A carnival trick created by slight of hand (and heart).
In my discussions with many friends, I have been told, “You will never find the perfect relationship so you may as well give up some of the things you are looking for,” but does this mean core things like trust? I don’t think so. I do think that holding out for solid, common values does mean your journey will be likely be unpleasant. I think it might be that you will be lonely more often, your wait will be longer. The road to an Olympic Gold Medal is certainly much more difficult than winning a red ribbon at the county fair. It takes both ruthless dedication and an inordinate amount of time. And in the end, there is no guarantee you will find it.
Facing this goal is daunting – like a standing at the base of a Himalayan mountain with but a single climbing rope to help you. The quest seems hopeless from the very start, but you have to ask yourself if that is what you really want. Are you truly capable of achieving this?
When I look at the mountain in front of me – with its icy top and treacherous slopes – I can see why people succumb to the fear. It is far easier to say, “This person doesn’t make me laugh or spark my intelligence but they are reliable,” or “I have to go outside the relationship for fulfilling sex, but I don’t want to be on my own again.” So, in some ways, I get it. I may not agree with the choice, but I do understand it.
Or perhaps it is better to say that I understand human nature and that the path of least resistance is usually the one most traveled.