Guest blogger: Rose Lerner
The thing is, I’ve been single for most of my life. I’ve definitely never been in a relationship on Valentine’s Day. I had one boyfriend in high school and he moved to a new city on February 1st. My last boyfriend and I started dating at the beginning of March. I was pretty sure the universe was out to get me.
Everything in Western culture is centred around mated pairs, and if you aren’t in one … okay, remember this passage from Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels?
The oversize ballooning sleeves of her silver-blue gown didn’t even have shoulders. They started about halfway to her elbow, primly covering everything from there down—and leaving what should have been concealed brazenly exposed to the view of every slavering hound in Paris.
Every man at the party had examined, at leisure and close quarters, that curving whiteness.
While Dain, like the Prince of Darkness they all believed him to be, stood outside lurking in the shadows.
He did not feel very satanic at the moment. He felt, if the humiliating truth be told, like a starving beggar boy with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop.
That’s kind of what it felt like to be single on Valentine’s Day. Everyone else was happy (not to mention getting some!), and I wasn’t. I felt lonely and excluded. And frankly, I felt angry that everyone was publicly rubbing my nose in what I didn’t have. It was like they’d invented a special day just to gloat over how much happier they were than me, and how they never had to awkwardly mumble ‘no’ when a friend or relative asked, ‘So are you seeing anyone?’
Sarah Michelle Gellar once said, when asked about high school: ‘My biggest complaint is […] send-the-roses day. Somebody’s always left out. I always got roses, but I would give them to someone who hadn’t gotten any.’ That interview came out when I was a college student and I remember being enraged. Yeah, I disliked send-the-roses day too in high school, but the only thing I could imagine more excruciatingly humiliating than not getting one (not actually too bad since lots of people were in the same boat) was a popular girl pityingly trying to bestow hers on me.
It wasn’t until that last boyfriend I mentioned unceremoniously dumped me a mere month or two into our relationship that I let go of that anger—that conviction I was missing out on some secret important thing all those rose givers and getters on Valentine’s Day had and I didn’t.
He and I had been good friends for more than six months and when we finally started dating, he told me he’d never felt about a girl the way he felt about me and that he couldn’t imagine ever wanting to break up with me. At one point he even talked about the dog we would eventually own together!
But alas, his eyes turned out to be bigger than his stomach where I was concerned. He never explained what went wrong—and I still can’t shake the suspicion that he’d been planning to break up with me for weeks before he actually did it, but waited until he no longer needed me to drive him around while he recovered from knee surgery. I’d known for a while that things weren’t going well, but my timid attempts to talk to him about it had gone nowhere. I’d been worried and stressed, obsessing over everything either of us said or did (looking back, I’m sure that didn’t help any!).
Then, all at once, I was single. And even though I was upset and hurt and missed him … it kind of felt great. I could relax. I started writing again. And I realised that having a boyfriend wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all I’d thought it was.
Which is not to say romance can’t be wonderful and amazing and level up your life! But I had never really accepted that it didn’t always, or believed that I might actually be unhappier with someone than I was by myself.
Since then, I don’t get angry at V-Day the way I used to. (Full disclosure: I’m still not romantically involved with anyone, but I do have a long-term BFF/roommate, so I probably don’t count as single either.) I actually really enjoy it. The February issue of Martha Stewart Living is always full of killer desserts and cute dinner-for-two ideas, I get to see lots of people being adorably in love with each other, and romantic movies are in theatres. (I’m writing this post a week early, but by the time you’re reading this, I’ll have seen Fifty Shades of Grey! I can’t wait.)
Love is in the air, and that’s romance writer (and reader) heaven.
If you’re single on Valentine’s Day, here are some suggestions for how to make the holiday your own:
1. Observe Galentine’s Day on February 13th. Created by Leslie Knope on Parks and Rec, Galentine’s Day is a day to hang out with your circle of female friends and celebrate your bond. Awesome! (You should watch Leslie explain it. She’s adorable.)
2. Take yourself out (maybe not on actual Valentine’s Day because restaurants are crazy!), or have a special night in. I read a self-help book recently that said something like, ‘If you hate being alone and feel like you would be so much happier if you were seeing someone … maybe that’s because when you’re alone, you mope and eat ramen, and when you are with someone you eat delicious food and put on your favorite sweater and do fun things. So make a list of the things you would like to do with a boyfriend or girlfriend, and then try doing them by yourself. See how it goes.’ Even if there isn’t someone else to love you and treat you special, you can still love yourself and treat yourself special.
3. Enjoy someone else’s love story. Read a romance. Watch Dirty Dancing. Write some fanfiction for your favorite TV buddy cops.
4. Wallow in love disasters! For example, ask friends on Twitter to share the worst date they’ve ever been on.
5. You know when all that chocolate goes on deep discount, don’t you? February 15th! Today is the real holiday. Don’t forget to celebrate. 😉
Rose Lerner discovered Georgette Heyer when she was thirteen, and wrote her first historical romance a few years later. Her writing has improved since then, but her fascination with all things Regency hasn’t changed. When not reading, writing, or researching, she enjoys cooking and marathoning TV shows. The first book in her historical small-town series, Sweet Disorder, was one of Publishers Weekly‘s Best Books of 2014. The second book, True Pretenses, released in January. Rose lives in Seattle.
Tell me about the best or worst Valentine’s Day you’ve ever had! One commenter will be chosen at random to win an ecopy of True Pretenses (winner’s choice of format). The giveaway will close on 1 March. (The giveaway is now closed. The winner was Malvina.)
Never steal a heart unless you can afford to lose your own.
Through sheer force of will, Ash Cohen raised himself and his younger brother from the London slums to become the best of confidence men. He’s heartbroken to learn Rafe wants out of the life, but determined to grant his brother his wish.
It seems simple: find a lonely, wealthy woman. If he can get her to fall in love with Rafe, his brother will be set. There’s just one problem—Ash can’t take his eyes off her.
Heiress Lydia Reeve is immediately drawn to the kind, unassuming stranger who asks to tour her family’s portrait gallery. And if she married, she could use the money from her dowry for her philanthropic schemes. The attraction seems mutual and oh so serendipitous—until she realizes Ash is determined to matchmake for his younger brother.
When Lydia’s passionate kiss puts Rafe’s future at risk, Ash is forced to reveal a terrible family secret. Rafe disappears, and Lydia asks Ash to marry her instead. Leaving Ash to wonder—did he choose the perfect woman for his brother, or for himself?