How Does Valentine’s Day Set Us Up for Looking for Love in the Wrong Places?



Conversation with Your BFF

BY REBECCA COOPER

 My earliest memories of Valentine’s Day are of my mom buying me a box of the little cards to give to my classmates in the first grade. I may have put more thought into it than I should have, but I would go one by one through the cards and find the perfect one for my BFF, the boy I liked, the boy who pulled my ponytails, and even one for my teacher. It was in those early years that I believed Valentine’s Day was always going to be about giving love to another and receiving love from another. But is that what the day is all about, or is there more? Does Valentine’s Day set us up to expect too much from others and not enough from ourselves? I’m so glad you asked!

You Are Conditioned to Wait on Love from an Early Age 

It was during those card exchanges in first grade and beyond that I developed the view that love came from outside myself. To be accepted and loved, I needed confirmation from another. In the first grade, I so wanted the boy I liked to get me one of those little hearts of Whitman’s candy, or better yet, the Russell Stover’s with a card declaring his undying love for me. OK, so I may have been a little overly dramatic, but I remember the excitement of waiting to see what I got on Valentine’s Day. Needless to say, the little boy gave me the same card he gave to everyone. I guess his mom wasn’t into the variety pack of cards like mine was. I went home with my little bag of cards from the other classmates, dumped them out, and looked at who gave me a card. But knowing that one little boy didn’t care for me like I did for him was crushing. Fast forward to high school, and my expectations continued to grow, as did my disappointments.

A Broken Date and a Candy Box to the Head Is Never Good! 

As the years and Valentine’s Days passed, I kept waiting for that acceptance from another. I have to admit, the prospects did pick up in middle and high school, but I still bought into the belief that to matter, another had to love me and make me feel accepted. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I realized I was more than what another did to me or for me.

Valentine’s Day 1985 was supposed to be a nice dinner with my boyfriend of four years, who was coming home from college to take me out to eat. He was a freshman in college and would pick me up around 6 pm. We had made this date a month previously, but I had a feeling things weren’t going to turn out well. Women’s intuition is what I chalk it up to now. Anyway, I was ready by 5 pm, so excited to go on a date, but the time came and went, and he never showed up. I called him in his apartment at college (no cell phones then!), and he never answered. I worried that maybe he had gotten into an accident. I finally decided to go to bed around 10 pm and wait to hear from him.

The next morning, I got a call from my boyfriend that he had forgotten; he had had a frat party the prior night and that’s where he had been. For some reason, that didn’t sit well with me. I was terribly disappointed and hurt. But he said he would come home, and we could go out that evening.

Long story short, he arrived and I told him that I was hurt that I wasn’t more important than a frat party. My comment lit his fuse, which was short, and ended up with a box of Russell Stover’s mixed chocolate candies in a beautiful red box thrown at my head, hitting my parents’ garage door. He sped off and that was Valentine’s Day 1985. Stupidly, I stayed with him a few more months, but I learned that I didn’t deserve to be stood up for a frat party, and I definitely didn’t deserve a box of candy used as a weapon.

Since then, I admit that I continue to romanticize the holiday, but I have learned that the most important love I can get is from myself. I am enough and if I want a box of chocolates, there’s nothing wrong with buying it on my own. Being able to look in the mirror and know that you love the woman looking back at you is a victory, and anyone who doesn’t share the same belief that you are a great woman, doesn’t deserve to be in your life. Keeping that in mind saves you a lot of heartache and a shattered candy box with chocolates all over the driveway.


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