Get Inspired

The single girl's guide to loving Valentine's Day again

Let me be honest: I've never been in a relationship. Sure, I've had crushes, and even gotten into a vague situationship that lasted for a couple of months before we drifted apart. But when it comes to a *real* romance with walks on the beach, heart-eye emojis in each other's contacts and declarations of love (or even "like")... I'm the girl on the couch, eating popcorn while I watch Belly and Conrad on the TV screen—alone.

Throughout high school and even middle school, I'd watch couples get together and break up (and sometimes get back together again) all around me. Every week, it seemed like the story of the day was someone's new 'ship. I didn't really notice that none of these relationships seemed to last very long: To me, everything looked like a perfect party...and I wanted my invite.

In 10th grade, I went to the winter dance with friends and watched my bestie slow dance with her date. I couldn't help but wish that I had my own S.O., corsage in hand, who was going to ask me to the dance floor.

"Why do you want a relationship so much?" my mom asked me a few weeks later. I was home after school, pining over my never-gonna-happen crush who had just started *another* romance. (His new GF sat in front of me in drama class, and every day I had to hear her swooning over him to her friends.)

It was a good question, tbh. I know that most high school relationships don't go on forever. And I know that even those that do still have to deal with the angst of applying to college, balancing friendships and school and considering if they want to be long-distance.

At the same time, I think it's understandable why so many girls want to find their plus-one. I grew up watching Cinderella and Prince Charming on the screen (then Lara Jean and Peter, Devi and Ben and, yes, Belly and Conrad). As we get older and see couples form around us in our own friend groups, it starts to seem like a relationship is something we can—and should—have.

In the past there's been the (sexist, IMO) idea in movies and books that a woman *needs* a relationship to be happy. We know that isn't true. But I also think there's nothing wrong with wanting a healthy romance in your life when you're ready and the right person comes along. The fact that you're looking for love probably means you're an open, caring person—and wanting a deep connection with someone else is far from being a bad thing. Some more wisdom from my mom: Dating isn't the whole pie (the pie = your life). But it is one piece of it.


So how do I cope when it's Valentine's Day and I'm sitting in my room by myself, rereading my fave romance stories while my friends are out on Pinterest-worthy dates?

I've found it really helps to focus on those *other* pieces of the pie: friends, fam, hobbies, accomplishments and dreams. Sure, I spent a lot of high school fantasizing about the day my crush was going to show up with a box of chocolates and ask me on a boba date. But I also used my single-girl time to bake countless (chocolate!) desserts with my mom, make the effort to form new friendships and, ofc, consider my many future goals.

I worked—a little too hard—on college applications all throughout senior year. (Pro tip: Don't apply to 18 schools!) But all that effort paid off when I got into my dream college where I'd be able to move to New York and pursue my love of literature and journalism. I even got an early start, spending lots of high school studying writing and eventually self-publishing a novel before graduation.

Would all of those things have been harder if I *had* been asked on that dreamy boba date? I like to think I would've had enough time for school, interests and an S.O. But I also know that going on dates and texting all night takes up a lot of time.


The next time it seems like everyone's coupled up but you, remember how much you enjoy your extra moments to redo your room aesthetic, keep up that AP Chemistry grade or finally watch a YouTube learn-to-knit tutorial. (Even if you're in a romantic mood, shipping yourself with an imaginary plus-one can sometimes be more fun than dealing with the complexities of a real one. That girl in "Fictional" by Khloe Rose? Yep, she's me.)

Don't feel too blue if you still want that relationship—even when the rest of your life feels amazing. I'm still single. And, yeah, I still kinda wish I wasn't. But I know that just because I'm not experiencing a romance at the moment doesn't mean I won't in the future. Right now, I'm dedicating that piece of the pie to considering what my priorities are, developing all the parts of myself I'll bring to the right relationship (like my empathy and enthusiasm!) and conserving my mental energy for when the crush who's meant for me comes along. When I think about all the people I have yet to meet and the relationships—romantic or not—that are going to be part of my future, I'm happy to be single. It means anything is possible. I'm embracing the freedom, possibility, and, yes, joy in not knowing how it's all going to work out.

This Valentine's Day, I still wish I had someone to hold my hand as we take a bundled-up walk around town. But I'm trusting that my S.O. will find me when we're ready for each other. Right now, I'm focused on my next big step in life: studying abroad in the UK. I know there are so many exciting places to go, passions to pursue and versions of myself to discover—and I can't wait to fall in love with all of them.

Keep reading for more Valentine's Day ideas and life advice!
💖 14 ways to spread the love (to you!) this February
💐 We found your next read, based on your dream date
💌 Why it's completely OK if you haven't dated yet

Slider and top image: @shayrudolph


by Ava Slocum | 2/14/2024