Valentine’s Day, Smug Marrieds and The Trials of Hand Holding

First of all: Happy Valentine’s Day to anyone who actually cares about a commercial/consumer holiday created for what seems to be the sole purpose of selling stuff and making single people feel bad. Mostly, I couldn’t give a flying fig about the day and have opted to NOT celebrate it even when in a relationship. I chose to spend my Valentine’s with my children, as we’ve begun our own tradition for the day. However, I can confess to feeling a slight twinge. The reasons for which are ridiculous and I blame…

The Smug Marrieds.

Or perhaps I should say the Smug Couples. You know, all the people who are or are in the process of being one half of a couple, married or not. Listening to them coo about their relationship, the cute thing their significant other did for them and enduring the pitying looks are sometimes a bit annoying. Especially when I absolutely know that some of these wonderful relationships also result in a lot of misery and are not as happy as they are often touted to be. To the opposite extreme are the single people who look on marriage as the kiss of death, which is just as annoying. Why the insistence that one extreme is better than the other? To quote an interesting article I just recently read: “Whether or not you have someone to come home to on Valentine’s Day — take heart.  Those smug married people or carefree singles don’t actually have it better— they just want to convince themselves that they do.” To read the full article: Why Married People Are Smug…

Another interesting tidbit: According to the affair site, www.ashleymadison.com, they get more traffic on February 15th than any other day of the year. I wonder why that is? Could it possibly be related to people setting up unrealistic expectations for romance? I’ve known plenty of people who would get completely wrecked if their significant other didn’t wow them on Valentine’s Day. Is that fair?

So…I had my twinge at being single on Valentine’s Day, then went on to celebrate it with my lovely children and enjoy the day. There are beautiful things to be found in being involved with someone you love and there are drawbacks. The same is true of being single. It’s so easy to get a “grass is greener” feeling about one or the other, when the truth is we need to find happiness in whatever state we find ourselves to be in. I’m currently still single. Who knows what I’ll be in three months? I’ve still got some soul-searching and inner work to do, so I do know I’d approach any new relationship slowly and with caution.

I’ve had date #2 with the man who brought me the rose. Locally owned hotspot, a bottle of wine shared, yummy food and good conversation. Will it lead to something more? After two dates, who knows? He has expressed very clear interest in me, so we’ll take it one date at a time. He seems very sincere, has chosen a path in life that underscores his love for others and he has wicked good taste in music.

I accepted a date with another man last weekend. He immediately made it very clear during the conversation that he found me very physically appealing. While it was flattering and nothing he said was inappropriate, he made enough references to my physical charms that I started to feel uncomfortable. He also started to address me as “beautiful” throughout the rest of the evening. Not a good sign. It didn’t help that my snobbery started to emerge as his accent and stories relayed he was from a very different background than me. Yes, I’m ashamed to admit it. However, I might have been willing to overlook many things (afterall, he was reasonably attractive, seemed intelligent and we had decent conversation) until he did something I absolutely cannot tolerate. He insisted on holding my hand.

Now…I know that hand-holding is viewed as old-fashioned. Sweet. Romantic. Still, for me personally, a stranger holding my hand has a very high “ick” factor. For me, hand-holding should be done with someone you know and care deeply for. You hold the hand of your significant other because you love them. You hold the hand of a dear friend who is in emotional distress and needs physical comfort, or someone who is in the hospital or dying. I like to hold the hands of my children. Holding someone’s hand implies intimacy, connection, or caring for a variety of reasons. For a man I’ve never met before that night to try to hold my hand for extended periods of time one hour after meeting me…

*shudder*

All my physical boundaries went on red alert and I began plotting ways to get my hand back without hurting his feelings. So, I continued to let my face freeze into a rictus of a passable smile, then would slowly draw my hand away nonchalantly to take a drink of my beverage. Then I’d cross my hands in my lap. Still, the moment my guard dropped or my hand seemed within grabbing distance, he would swoop in and claim it again. He seemed unable to stop himself from attempting a physical connection with me. It was all I could do to not leap up and scream: “Stop touching me!!”

Not a promising sign. He requested a second date the next day and I politely put him off due to previous obligations. However, after numerous “Thinking about you, beautiful” texts were received, it let me know I had to act. So I sent him a polite “thank you for the evening” email, then let him know I didn’t think I felt enough romantic connection for a second date. He took it like a gentleman and wished me well.

My philosophy lately is: Why waste my time? I’m being much more scrupulous about who I accept dates with and who I give a second date to. I’m done being nice. Afterall, when it comes to dating, being nice hasn’t really gotten me anywhere. I want to find someone to share my life with one day, but I’m not desperate enough for a relationship to jump into one that isn’t right for me.

The bottom line is this: If I simply wanted someone to share Valentine’s Day with, I could find that easily enough. If being married was my only goal, I could be remarried. While my expectations aren’t unreasonable, I do have them. I’ll even admit that perhaps my expectations are different than those of others. There are so many perks to being with someone you love and who “gets” you and so many cons to being with someone who doesn’t. Until I find that person, I’ll stay single. I’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day with my children.

One day I’ll meet a man who understands why I think hand-holding should only happen after we have affection and connection between us. When I do, holding his hand WILL be about romance and affection and love. Afterall, what says connection, without sexual intimacy, more than a entertwining your hands with your beloved? 🙂

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