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Going at Valentine's Day alone
By WILLIAM WOLFE-WYLIE, QMI Agency
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According to a 2009 article in Psychology Today, as many as 25% of people living in the U.S. have absolutely nobody they can lean on outside of their immediate family. (Shutterstock)

    This year, Meara Brown will spend her Valentine's Day going to class, going home and eating dinner. Then she'll try to get to bed early because Tuesday she'll try and get some discounted heart-shaped candy on her way back to class.

    "In all honesty, I tend to forget Feb. 14 has any importance at all," she says. "I don't feel bad about being single on a day like this, or feel like I'm a lesser person because I don't have a lover to spend the day with."

    It's an increasingly common sentiment. In fact, when the YouTube video 'How to be Alone' hit the Internet in August, it struck such a universal chord that it became an instant sensation.

    When Tanya Davis's poem - originally written two years ago to bring loneliness out the closet and give it some fresh air - was eventually put to film last summer by Davis and her friend Andrea Dorfman, it touched more people than she ever thought it would. And now, with a holiday that's all about lovers just around the corner, she's thinking about it again.

    "I think Valentine's does weird things to people. I think it just highlights whether or not you have a partner," Davis says from her Halifax home. "It's like the holiday that you're supposed to be in love for. And not everyone is in love.


    "It can creep under people's skin a little bit."

    And that's true of everyone, single or not.

    According to a 2009 article in Psychology Today, as many as 25% of people living in the U.S. have absolutely nobody they can lean on outside of their immediate family. That's up from only 10% in 1985.

    A 2004 study in the journal Personal Relationships even found that, contrary to making people fall more in love with each other, Valentine's Day actually sees a spike in break ups. When relationships, weak or strong, were already on a "downward trajectory", the researchers found that when the expectations of Valentine's Day were not met, that was enough to push couples over the edge and call the whole thing off.

    Loneliness is such a deep-seated issue for many people that there's even a book on how to live with "long term loneliness." Emily White, now living in Newfoundland, wrote a book about learning to live with solitude.

    For people like Davis and Brown, though, it's not only about learning to tolerate loneliness, but learning to love yourself in the process.

    "Being single isn't a bad thing," Brown says from Victoria, B.C. "Being alone is actually an incredibly good way to learn about your strengths and weaknesses."

    Davis agrees. For her, loneliness can be hard, but also a blessing. She enjoys being alone, but sometimes has to remind herself that she enjoys being alone. It's not always easy, especially when everyone wants to push you to couple up.

    "People can be really hard on themselves," she says. "We could use a little reminder, on holidays like this, to be OK being alone. Because it kind of starts from there and goes out from there."

    Dear me. Would you be my Valentine? Absolutely, me, I'd love to. Maybe we can make being alone a little less lonely.

    This story was posted on Sat, February 12, 2011

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