Thriving While Single on Valentine's Day


by Ryan Kerr

There’s a reason February is the shortest month of the year. Here in Toronto, it’s borderline intolerable. Cold, grey and with two fake holidays - Valentine’s Day and Family Day to remind those of us without either (or without the traditional definition of either) that life is an icy oasis where you are born and die alone.

Everywhere I look, I seem to be reminded of my singlehood. Hand-holding lovers on the street, commercials depicting the un-hitched as desperate spinsters waiting for someone else to give their life meaning and now with Valentine’s schlock lining the racks at Dollarama and Shoppers Drugmart. Even while acknowledging that neither Dollarama nor Shoppers factor into my everyday concept of self-worth, the impending approach of February 14th seems to kick my self-esteem down a flight of stairs.

This year, I’m going to challenge that perspective as early into the month as I can. I propose that rather than succumbing to the pressure of a narrowly-defined Hallmark holiday, we look at our own relationships to ourselves as being the ones to celebrate.

Why forget all of the fabulous that my therapist and I work on every week at the mere sight of a (cheap) heart-shaped box of chocolates?

I think it has a lot to do with my secret subscription to the myths of coupledom society perpetuates. I live alone, I work for myself (often by myself) and cook for one after the end of a long day at my computer. Rather than enjoying my nourishing break, I look at my messy kitchen and full plate and feel an emptiness, defeated. And yet, most of my social network admire my do-as-I-please lifestyle, unfettered to other human(s) in my day-to-day decision making. How perplexing.

So, I’ve started an aggressive re-programming. I’m pretty darn nifty both when single and when I’m in a relationship. (Pardon the language.) And armed with this logic, I’m ready to remind myself of all the things I do for myself that make having a loving partner optional.

Here are some fun facts which help me to deconstruct the forces which counter my own self-sufficiency. I am able to see that relationships exist in a hierarchy which has been largely unchallenged since the 1950’s. We don’t need a provider, we don’t need someone to share our huge house in the suburbs with a backyard. (I’m writing this from my tiny downtown bachelor!)

1)  I can eat what I want. Food - it’s a basic human need. It’s also an incredible opportunity for self-pleasure. Look at all those lovers gifting each other chocolate! Look at me doing the same thing for myself, whenever I want! Why wait for a holiday to feed myself my favourite things? It’s Tuesday, let’s do this.

2)  I know me better than anyone. Surprise! I know what would make me the happiest and most content in the whole world. Who of my previous partners had that inside information? I love candles, I love fresh flowers, I love baths and these are all available all year round. (And I also love watching episodes of Touched by an Angel while eating Häagen-Daz from the carton - who knew?)

3)  I have incredible relationships already. Friends, FWB, family, even frenemies - these relationships aren’t any higher or any lower than the kind of monogamous sexual relationship McDonald’s endorses.

4)  Jerking off is 90% more pleasurable than a random encounter anyway. This doesn’t stop me from as many random sexytime encounters as possible, but the fact remains: if I want a guaranteed, solid euphoric release, it’s me and not someone else who’s gonna give it to me. (Pun intended.) Best things in life are free...

Love songs don’t paint an accurate picture of love and togetherness. No one locks eyes across a room and embarks on an effortless journey across a serene waveless ocean. And thank goodness, or else we’d all be bored and want to jump into said tranquil lagoon. If love were a painting, it would more closely resemble a Jackson Pollock than a Claude Monet. And the best part is, we get to use our own brush. ;)

Ryan Kerr is an artist, actor and self-published author whose involvement in the queer community began in when he was 17 years old. Now, Ryan writes for Vancouver's ION Magazine, Canada's XTRA! Magazine and is a series regular on the hit webseries GAY NERDS.

Cover photo by Jeremy Tudor Price

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