I hate to bring this up, today being what it is, but are you single? Do you feel sad about that? Has this manufactured holiday sent you into a tailspin of renewed New Year's Eve style resolutions ("I'm going to go to the gym ever hour on the hour!") and crippling self-pity ("I can't even save up the money to buy a strong enough necktie to properly auto-erotically asphyxiate myself!")?
I know a lot of single people who, by virtue of their own awesomeness, ought to have great dates every night of the week, but don't. Come to think of it, I know a lot of coupled people who take their partners for granted, smugly enjoying the benefits of being in a relationship, and they don't deserve any of it. This unbalanced situation seems wholly unfair.
I've been very lucky these past seven years to have once cornered a charming, handsome intellectual in a bar and tricked him into loving me. That doesn't make me an expert on relationships, but here's what does: If you hover close to my age and you've had many of the same friends, family or coworkers throughout your twenties, you've seen people get together and break up countless times. Sometimes the success or failure of a relationship is a crazy fluke, but sometimes you begin to see a pattern in this friend's behaviour, or you realize that their expectations of a relationship don't match their reality, so they're bound to be constantly disappointed. You know how, when it comes to other people's problems, it's super-easy to look down on everyone from your castle of self-satisfaction? Let's do that together!
Dream: Help single people find a partner, and help people with partners stay together.
Goal: Achievable, with caveats. If you're one of those uncoupled people who doesn't want or need the encumbrance of a partner, this blog is not for you. You probably have a healthier, more well-adjusted attitude about yourself than most people ever will. And I certainly don't believe that being single is a kind of deficiency, or that partnered people are any better off. I just know for myself, that having somebody around is better than not, and that loving a real person who watches Dateline and does the dishes with you, is better than lusting after an idealized person with the brain of a dolphin and the loyalty of a labradoodle. So take these tips and tricks in the lighthearted spirit with which they are intended, you judgey single person, or quit reading my blog and go suck a dick (oh wait you can't cuz you single! AHAHAHAHA! #hahahah #kony2012)
Plan: List some helpful hints, a little of the old do and don't, that I know about this stuff because I am an expert. Some tips:
Don't pretty yourself up for no one. Look, dudes, if you're heading out someplace, by all means wear a Guy Fieri bowling shirt to cover your hideous pizza gut and ladies, don't let Doritos fall into your bra (actually, men would love that, disregard). But otherwise, try to look close to what you normally look like. It's cliche, but I knew a girl who would wake up before an overnight guest, sneak into the bathroom, put makeup on, sneak back into bed. I know a guy who does 200 sit-ups before he goes out on a date. Two HUNDRED! What kind of precedent does that set? But if you do the reverse, your partner can only be surprised and delighted. I went out with Jon for months before I dared brush my hair or teeth.
Go to the party. Ugh! I know, I know, parties and the people who attend them are the fucking worst. And, the older you get, cancelling plans provides a rush more satisfying than any street drug. But unless you're in school or work in a really large group, it's really hard to actually meet new people. Parties are usually low-pressure situations because you can come and go at your leisure, you'll have some friends there to retreat to if the person you're chatting up turns out to be a Unitarian or outdoor music festival attendee (DEALBREAKER). So just steel yourself every so often to stand with a group of strangers holding red cups.
Be realistic. Everyone has a list of what they want or don't want in a partner. He must be able to make me laugh, she has to be good with money, she should be blonde, he's gotta be into oral, etc. Having criteria is fine, but the more extensive they are, the less likely someone is to meet them. So if you have a really long list, be prepared to cut it down, or wait a really long time. I don't have a successful career or commensurate income, Jon smokes cigarettes, you put up with it because the benefits far outweigh the detriments.
Sit in a parked car for an hour. Planning the perfect, activity-filled date is great fun, but eventually there's no good movie playing and the guy who runs the zip-lining place dies of a drug overdose, and you're forced to figure out whether just being with the person is enough. So sit in a parked car (and not for hanky panky, you sickos), or turn the tv off in your apartment, or pitch a tent under an overpass, I don't care, but make yourself sit and talk. Are you engaged and excited, still? Boom!
Don't play The Game. Throw out The Rules. Everyone just stop with the manipulation of a prospective partner. Sure, that might land someone in your bed, but it won't keep that person in your life (and if that's just what you're looking for, have fun getting older). Guys, if you think you can get more from a woman by treating her like shit, you're not a player, you're an asshole. Girls, if you wait a requisite number of days to return a text message, you're not coy, you're manipulative. Gay guys, we've got to stop using the flatness of a stomach or the dimensions of a wang determine how we fill our dance card. Lesbians, you seem like sea-turtles, often with severe haircuts, in that you mate for life. Keep doing what you're doing.
One person is just one person. No, that's not a headline from the Department of Doy!, it's an often overlooked truism. No one person can possibly be all you need in every facet of your life. Maybe you have a friend that usually makes you laugh harder than your mate does. Maybe you enjoy engaging in spirited political debate with a college friend over your main squeeze. So what? Jon and I have friends together and we have friends separately and we both understand that sometimes he wants to talk Canadian Members of Parliament and I want to bitch about Taylor Swift. If that's not our respective area of interest, why put each other through that? If you expect more of your partner than you can possibly bring to the table yourself, how's that gonna work out for you?
Whatever you have, be grateful for it. If you're single, realize that there's someone out there you're going to kiss on the mouth, and you haven't met them yet. How exciting! If you're in a relationship that's grown a little predictable, even dull, consider that shakeups in long relationships are never as the result of something good. It all changes when she gets a job offer in another country, or he gets cancer. Do you have kids? Think of the amazing joy they bring you every day. You have created and are nurturing human people! Awesome in the truest sense of the word. Are you childless? Sleep in, drink on a Tuesday afternoon, have sex in the kitchen, I'm sure you'll miss that when it's gone. Regardless of your situation, please realize that the most important relationship, the one you will maintain for the rest of your life, is the one you have with yourself. Be your own Valentine this year and every year after that, whether or not you've got someone in your life, because you're great, every single (or married) one of you.