The guy I dated for the past four months just broke up with me. (In an email, I might add!) Being single on Valentine’s Day is hard enough when my self-esteem is in a good place. Do you have any advice on how to cope with heartbreak during this rose-scented holiday?—Rachael
To quote the recently and dearly departed Liz Lemon, “Valentine’s Day is a sham, created by card companies to reinforce and exploit gender stereotypes.” Is this non-holiday-cum-candy-cash-grab still something that we’re attaching real feelings to? Wilder Weir, co-host of the lifestyle show Oh So Cosmo on CosmoTV (he’ll also appear in the March 20 episode of singles bonanza Come Date With Me, which premieres Feb. 20 on the W Network), says, “This is just another date on the calendar that marketers and retailers cash in on.”
You’re probably more upset about your split than you are about Valentine’s Day itself, and pinning that heartbreak on a day that everyone else already ignores, resents, or overblows isn’t going to help you.
Every day, and therefore every holiday, is what you make it, despite your relationship status, friend, and family dramas, and other ever-changing external circumstances. For Valentine’s, I recommend you take a Me Day instead, with expensive sushi and the most dangerous online shopping sites. Weir recommends using a solo Valentine’s to your advantage: “Head out to a bar where you know everyone is definitely single.” Unlike an average Thursday, your local dive will not be populated by is-he-or-isn’t-hes. “You might not find your perfect match, but at least you can have fun trying.”
If you’re not up for it, though, Weir says, “The gym should be full of singles that night, and the endorphins will put you in a positive mood,” or “get some friends together and make it a games night, or have a dance party.” Do not try to opt out and hang at home alone (or with a hi-def Ryan Gosling), since you’re already sensitive to romantical juju.
Despite the fact that “there is a lot of pressure to be in a relationship,” Weir makes another good point: These solo and obligation-free Valentine’s Days are “rare and fleeting,” so you should try to forget the holiday expectations and just enjoy yourself. “And, come on,” he adds, “the real treat of Valentine’s Day is reduced chocolates on the 15th.”
I’ve received a friend request from an ex-girlfriend from when I was 19, and it’s freaking me out. I’m 33 now, but the end of the relationship was so painful and disorienting that I’ve had zero contact with her since. Part of me thinks, “She’s dead to me,” and another part sees this as an opportunity for closure. I’m not sure how to handle the ghosts of the past and the social media of the present.—Haim
Since your ex was the one to initiate contact, you currently occupy the social-media power position, and can guide the interaction.
You don’t have to accept, or respond at all. If she was such a life-ruiner, you might want to just leave it alone: a decade-plus is a long time, but there is nothing more compelling or crazy-making than your worst ex, and, I’m sorry, but “closure” is barely a thing, and certainly not anything you can get from Facebook chat. If you accept, be prepared to be not only hurt or re-obsessed, but disappointed. If she isn’t who you thought she was, for better or worse, is that going to affect the progress you’ve made?
I think the best option is to circumvent her too-easy attempt at amends. Don’t respond to the request, just send her a message that you got it, that you hope she’s well, and that if she’d like to reconnect, here is your personal, non-chat-based contact information. If she wants to make a more human effort, she will.
Have a question for Kate? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.