“Why I’m still celebrating Valentine’s Day as a single woman in lockdown”

It’s time to stop judging women who feel a bit sad about being single on Valentine’s Day, says Stylist’s digital writer and perennial singleton Hollie Richardson. 

In the last few weeks alone, I have found myself in brief but memorable situations that I was convinced were meet-cutes in lockdown. They included a red-headed neighbour who cheerily handed over a package that had been incorrectly delivered to his flat, and a blue-eyed man who I had a two-minute chat with about the hot food he was making in his kitchen for people who are shielding (I fell head over heels within 30 seconds). 

Yes, I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic. I’m convinced I’m living in a Richard Curtis film or acting out the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s Love Story (I’m even listening to Evermore as I type). According to my despairing mum and friends, this is why I’m still single – I have no interest in giving anyone a chance if I’m not instantly obsessed with them. What can I say? I grew up watching Colin Firth play TWO Mr Darcys. 

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I’m always up for a bit of romance. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending it with a date or romantic partner. In fact, I’ve only ever celebrated the 14 February with one boyfriend. I just like to buy myself a bunch of flowers from the local supermarket, order a nice takeaway and watch a film that guarantees tears. 

But while I am totally here to champion love in all its forms, I do also allow myself to wallow in a bit of self-pity if I start to feel a bit sad about being single. Because news flash: it’s OK to be a happy and independent woman who wants to be in a relationship. It’s perfectly normal, perhaps even cathartic, to check in with myself and think about what I want from love.

And so, while working my way through a mountain of bright pink sweet treats on the sofa, I basically embrace all the emotions on Valentine’s Day. After all, no romance is without its ups and downs. 

This year is, obviously, a little bit different. I lived on my own for the majority of the coronavirus lockdown, which was pretty lonely and boring. Now, I’m getting to know a new flatmate and it’s actually exhausting trying to navigate this. 

So, I’ve decided to put dating on hold: thoughts of snogging someone after a few drinks in the pub and spending an hour perfecting my eyeliner flicks for a park date feel like a very distant dream. I refuse to tease myself.  

And while I’ve been lucky enough to meet friends for walks with a coffee or gin-in-a-tin in hand, it’s just not the same as catching up on the sofa. The last time I touched someone else’s skin was probably last year. 

You’d think that I’d perhaps give this Valentine’s Day a miss. It feels impossible to think pink thoughts of love hearts, kisses and happy endings. The very idea of doing some sort of Galentine’s Day Zoom activity makes me feel more single than ever before. And I know Instagram will be littered with photos of couples that try to give off a sort of “we’re only ironically celebrating” vibe (and failing miserably).

Yes, the truth is that I do feel sadder this year. And to anyone who says it’s “just another day” or “it’s stupid to let it affect you” – I say that as a single woman living alone, I’m allowed to lean into my feelings of sadness and nearly choke on a Guylian chocolate while sobbing tears over Queen & Slim

I recently read a tweet that said “the perks of being single have gone” and “it’s painfully lonely”. It validated all my thoughts in this lockdown. I know it’s been crap for everybody, but there really is a certain type of fear, frustration and anxiety that comes with losing a year of dating and possibly new relationships, especially for women in their 30s. 

So I probably will have a little cry this Sunday. But, as I’ve learned from all those years before, I know that sadness is just an inevitable part of romance. With that in mind, I’ll welcome back all the positive thoughts as well: I’ll dare to dream, smile at a vase of daffodils on my coffee table and let Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams sweep me away in The Notebook.

Because, just like what Gosling screams, “it’s not over, it’s still not over!” And, who knows, perhaps when I buy a box of chocolates from Sainsbury’s, the person behind me in the queue will cast himself as my next meet-cute.

Images: Getty

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