Why I Don’t Get to Complain that I’m Single on Valentine’s Day

Elyse Cizek
11 min readFeb 15, 2021
Photo of the Author by Sean Boyd

I hate it when people say Valentine’s Day is “just a Hallmark holiday” or “just another day.” I want to celebrate it so badly. I’m 33 years old and I have been single for all but two Valentine’s Days in my lifetime…and oh boy do I want to whine about it.

I haven’t been in a real relationship in five and a half years — meaning I haven’t been anyone’s girlfriend since I’ve lived in LA. Every year since my last breakup, this holiday has been torture. Sure, sometimes I’ve pacified my disappointment with friends or fun nights out, but this year hits different. Not only because dating isn’t a thing anymore (I don’t know how anyone does it safely, to be honest), but because my solitude has helped me realize that it’s my own fault that I’m single.

The worst question you can ask a single person is “why are you single?” The reason this is so uncomfortable is because we know we’re partly to blame, but in that moment, it’s usually a question being asked of us as a kind of compliment.

So I figured I’d take a little time to explain exactly why I’m single. This list is not going to help me get a date. This list is not going to help me find the love of my life. But this list is an honest appraisal of why exactly I’m suffering this Valentine’s Day and what exactly I need to do to change it.

1. I’ve been believing in a fantasy

Growing up I loved fairy tales and romantic comedies. They were the stories of love that I believed and wanted for myself. I wanted to be saved by some prince on a steed in my most vulnerable moment. I wanted the guy who was rude to me to have that rom-com revelation where they’d finally realize I’d been “the one” the whole time. I wanted to be Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I wanted to be the musician’s muse, the groupie turned wife. I wanted to be the one he’d leave his wife for. I wanted to be the manic pixie dream girl. It wasn’t until I began therapy in 2017 that I even connected these stories to predatory, emotionally abusive, disrespectful partners and overall super toxic relationships.

I grew up believing that if a boy picked on me it meant he liked me, so if I was getting attention, even negative attention, I would convince myself that it was love, not…