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I love Valentine’s Day.
I love pink and red. I love roses. I love chocolate and candy hearts.
I love love stories, romantic movies, weddings, anniversaries, and stories of how people met. It may surprise you that I love all of it while being twice divorced and happily single.
I love love.
I did not always love Valentine’s Day. After my first marriage dissolved the weekend before Valentine’s Day, I hated it. I’d hoped to simply ignore the day, but the neighborhood men brought over a bouquet of 36 long-stemmed red roses. I know they meant well, but the gesture was not welcomed. I’m not usually one to look a gift horse in the mouth but nobody wants a pity bouquet.
That year, I did not love Valentine’s Day. I felt it was not a day for me. I thought it was about romantic love. What I had forgotten was that there were many types of love.
The ancient Greeks counted six different types of love. Valentine’s Day traditionally focuses on romantic love: heart-shaped bathtubs and satin lingerie. The ancient Greeks referred to that as Eros or sexual passion.
So, as a single person—particularly if you are on the heels of divorce or a messy breakup—you might not feel like a day celebrating Eros is for you.
But if you expand the holiday to encapsulate the five other kinds of love, you just might find yourself in a celebratory mood:
1. Philia. Philia is “brotherly” love (the root word of Philadelphia) or love for humanity. On Valentine’s Day, you can show your love for people by volunteering at a food bank or paying for the order of those behind you at a drive-through. Love really can be all around us.
2. Ludus. Ludus represents no-strings-attached love in the form of seduction, flirting, and dancing. You don’t have to embrace the hookup culture to celebrate Ludus. Sign up for a Salsa dancing class. Flirt with people in the Starbucks line (you can flirt equally with men or women: it’s about making people feel good, not finding a date.) Wear sensual clothes that make you feel fabulous.
3. Agape. Agape describes divine love so you can use Valentine’s Day to get in touch with your spiritual side. If you live near water or the mountains or the forest or a park, appreciate the divine beauty of the earth itself. If you are in an urban area, visit a gallery or a museum to see inspired works of art. Do some reading, meditating, or spend some time in prayer.
4. Pragma. Pragma is love based on long-term mutual goals and commitment. Often, this is thought of as “married love” but it can be love among friends (I always think of “The Golden Girls” as living out pragma love). To celebrate this love, have your best girlfriends over for Galentine’s Day fondue and games. Set a common goal and form an accountability group. One does not have to be married or in a committed relationship to have supportive life partners.
5. Philautia. Philautia is love of the self, which is something a lot of women have trouble embracing. I highly recommend you practice it this Valentine’s Day whether single or partnered. Take the day to celebrate yourself. Work out. Have a long bath. Write a list of your best qualities. Journal. Get yourself a fancy coffee or a European fashion magazine or some decent chocolate from a chocolatier. You know which love language best resonates, so, romance yourself!
I’ve come to love Valentine’s Day as a single person even more than I did when I was partnered. By expanding your definition of things you don’t think are for you, you can bring so much more richness to your life. See it as an opportunity to move out of your comfort zone.
If you can make Valentine’s Day as a single person one of your favorite holidays, think of all the other amazing things you can do!