As a teenager I loathed Valentine’s Day because I never had a boyfriend and was thus excluded from all the classroom carnations and girlish giggling. Loser.
As a young adult, I hated it because the expectations of doing something crazy and fantastic were never quite lived up to. Either that or I had found another exciting “bad boy” I could rehabilitate with my perfect girlfriendness. That always worked out well. Loser.
Being single at nearly 50 I’ve decided Feb. 14 is a lot of build up for something not really so awesome, like senior prom or a c-section.
I have decided that having fun the other 364 days of the year is just fine. I have also decided I don’t want anyone who completes me. I’m totally happy with the faulty gaps in my personality. I’m completely emotional so don’t bring your Spock-think to balance the argument and expect good results.
When I was young I aspired to find my soul mate. Everyone has one, right? Of course not. What if you really do have one soul mate, but he or she is a marine biologist in the Black Sea—you’re never going there. Perfect matches can’t just be a matter of geography. Unless you live in Mayberry, there’s really no way to even meet all the people in your own town.
I do, however, think it’s possible to have *a* soul mate—someone who shares what I call extreme compatibility. And not just the big things like politics and religion. Some relationships get into trouble over the stupid things; like “MUST you leave the Keurig cup in the machine every morning so my Earl Grey tastes like Sanka?”
I’d much rather argue about God with an atheist than arm wrestle over the thermostat with a “hot-natured” person while wearing socks to bed in July.
I know some think opposites attract, and maybe they do. But only if at least one of you is extremely tolerant. An indulgent person who has a thing for expensive shoes is going to have a lot to argue about with a person who saves pennies and re-uses Ziplocs. I found it nearly impossible to live with the person who decided to go all Paleo on me, necessitating three rounds of cooking; cruciferous meal for him, one non-crucifying for me, and one chicken nugget-heavy for the toddler. (Yes, I meant to say crucifying since eating broccoli would kill me.)
The habits of a person who has scrunchies on the gear shift and french fries under the seat will never satisfy a person who washes the car every Saturday and dries it with a kitten.
What I think now is that all that talk about relationships being a choice and hard work is too simplistic. Sure, you have to put in effort, but if it feels like Work, it’s not Fun.
Having extreme compatibility with another person is a lot less effort and hardly no work at all. It takes energy but things click and there is feedback and rewards—if you’re lucky enough to find the Flow.
Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines Flow as “the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
Here’s hoping you have a Valentine’s Day full of Flow. Whether it’s with a sweetheart, an old love, or a new baby. I’m not going to do anything I wouldn’t do any other day, kiss my sweetheart, hug my son, call my mom and maybe send a wisecraking text to my little brother. That stuff never stops being Fun.