Dear Becca: On Valentine’s Day and Loneliness

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Ahhhh. You can smell the stale despair, tidbits of envy, and lust in the air.

Valentine’s Day.

Hearts and pink and chocolate and teddy bears and puke. National Single Awareness Day has come and gone, but the dull pain of loneliness persists. This week’s post is for the disappointed.

Whether you desired a romantic evening in Sharples or were simply craving a snugglefest with your Screw date, your hopes and fantasies were dashed. But rally, friends! Being alone on Valentine’s Day does not mean your life is desolate or bland. It just means you were alone on Valentine’s Day (really, that’s it. Your ears aren’t too big and your music taste is … acceptable).

However, loneliness isn’t a trivial feeling. I find that I often use an object of affection as a crutch; someone (treated like something) that distracts me from feelings of boredom or stress or loneliness. This person (thing) is simply a filler. This ultimately means that when I am lacking such distraction, my wires snap (and I tend to have a sloppy dance-floor-make-out (dfmo) with someone at Paces).

I share this anecdote without the assumption that you do the same thing. But I tell it because I fear loneliness, and this is a universal fear.

This is my theory: often times when a friend is upset about a “thing” growing stagnant and slowly dying, s/he is not upset that s/he is losing their lover. Rather, it is that the “thing” is ending and the place where that person’s special other had nestled themselves, even for a short period of time, is now vacant (again). That vacancy is felt strongly at the beginning of its absence, and dulls as time continues. But despite the pain mellowing, the vacancy is always and will always be there.

Now, my analytical Swatties, you may disagree with me, but I know that this is true for many. It is true for lovers without someone to love. And for you lovers without love, remember that it is possible to be alone without feeling lonely, despite whatever size vacancy exists. That vacancy is a part of you; perhaps it is the thing that allows you to connect with people in the first place. Accept it. In the words of Kate Nash, “I can watch the sunset on my own.”

Go watch the sunset on your own; it’s just as beautiful as when someone was sitting beside you.




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