By// Maureen Jenkins
It’s Feb. 14, a date that sparks dread in the hearts of far too many uncoupled women every year. But rather than stressing about being alone, why not choose THIS Valentine’s Day to stand up proudly, declare yourself single and satisfied, and celebrate YOURSELF?
This makes especially good sense for African-American women, as according to the 2010 U. S. Census, a whopping 71.6 percent of us over 18 are never married, divorced, widowed or separated. Among female Americans in general, just over 50 percent fall into these groups.
“Whether you’re in a relationship or not, Valentine’s Day is one day a year where we should be reminding ourselves of the love we already have in our lives,” says Abiola Abrams, a lifestyle expert who writes and blogs about love, sex, dating and relationships. “We’re either lamenting the past relationship, planning for the next relationship, but rarely appreciating where we are in being single, and there’s real power in that.” Rather than DWD — “dating while desperate” — Abrams encourages single women to take a “Passionista Year” where they “practice extreme self-love, which is especially important for us as Black women.”
Consider these 10 ways to celebrate your single self today — and you just may find yourself creating a ritual you’ll cherish for years to come, man or no man.
1. If someone suddenly gives you flowers … thank yourself!! Rather than rolling your eyes when the florist shows up bearing red roses for your coupled colleagues, pick up some for yourself. And when someone at the office asks who sent that gorgeous bouquet, smile and say, “My secret admirer” — and MEAN it.
2. Seduce your OWN stomach. Get out the “good” plates, silverware and wine glasses, light the candles, and prepare a sumptuous meal you’d be proud to serve your dream lover. And while you’re at it, says Abrams, “write a love letter to yourself declaring that you’ll have healthier relationships going forward.”
3. Grab the girls for an impromptu get-together. A restaurant isn’t Noah’s Ark — just because it’s Feb. 14 doesn’t mean you HAVE to show up two-by-two. Gather some other single girlfriends, call one of your favorite spots for a last-minute reservation, and go. You’ll probably find yourselves having more fun than anyone in the place.
4. Step out and savor singlehood. Yes, you CAN go to a singles event without the express intent of meeting “your better half.” Parties like those hosted in Oakland for International Quirkyalone Day include diverse crowds and celebrate “love for your friends and love for your lovely self.” Says Sasha Cagen, the day’s founder and author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (HarperSanFrancisco, $13.95): “Valentine’s Day is a big fat ‘should’ — and ‘Quirkyalone Day’ is the opposite of a ‘should.’ You get to step outside society’s cliché and make it up yourself.” And if you happen to meet and fall for a fellow quirky soul while you’re there? Icing on the cake.
5. Celebrate your “Secret Single Behavior.” Thank Sex and the City for the term relating to things uncoupled folks indulge in when alone. (Remember Carrie’s admission to eating stacks of saltines with grape jelly while reading fashion magazines in the kitchen?) On Feb. 14, Cagen encourages us singletons to embrace our SSBs, whether rearranging the furniture, singing at the top of your lungs, or just talking to yourself (and answering).
6. Let someone reach out and touch you. Cagen suggests treating yourself to a massage. Or book a soothing spa manicure or pedicure, as most salons are likely to be less crowded and cramped than usual tonight. Why not experience and enjoy human touch — and from someone that won’t expect anything at the end of the night?
7. Treat your “favorite girl” to a memorable gift. Why wait for a guy you might not even like six months from now to buy you jewelry — or anything else? Suggests Abrams: “Buy a heart locket. Every time you look at it, it’s a reminder. And when someone asks you, ‘Where did you get that?’ you can tell them, ‘It was a gift from me to me.’”
8. Love yourself in some new lingerie. You don’t have to be in a relationship to buy and wear the good stuff. Great lingerie is a sensual treat, makes everything you wear fit better — and don’t you move differently when you’ve got it on? YOU are reason enough to wear your seductive sweet nothings every day, not just on a date with Mr. (Possibly) Right.
9. Take a romantic walk — by yourself. “I’m a big fan of taking a long walk alone and leaving your cell phone in the house, giving yourself time to be still,” Cagen says. “We women are so relational and into our work, our friends, our kids. We’re such multi-taskers — and that fries you and doesn’t let you nourish yourself.”
10. Dress up and take yourself out on a hot date. “There’s that restaurant you’ve always wanted to try?” asks Abrams. “Sit there boldly and happily, order what you want, and have a fantastic time.” And let all the couples sitting around you wonder just who is that fabulous woman dining alone and so obviously loving it.
Whatever you do, “just make it a point of treating yourself well,” says Abrams, whose upcoming self-help memoir, The Official Bombshell Handbook, is due out in July. “If you make that your focus, you’re going to have a good time.”
Maureen Jenkins is a France-based freelance writer who plans to spend Valentine’s Day in Paris, treating herself to a glass of good Champagne. She blogs at www.UrbanTravelGirl.com.