February 2005 — The evidence is everywhere that February 14,
dear old Valentine’s Day, is not far away. Stores decorate with
red hearts and display flowers and boxes of candy and cards. Love
is in the air and everyone is happy, right?
Not so for everyone. Being alone on Valentine’s Day can create
the blues for singles.
“I’m not thrilled to see it come,” said Marcedric DeArman, a Jacksonville
State University freshman from Anniston.
“I hate it,” said Anna Keefe, a junior from Fort Payne.
“It’s like a regular day,” said Paul Wilson of Carrollton, Ga.
So much for the day created especially for lovers.
Gary Brittain, who directs the Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM) at
JSU, knows from experience in working with students during the
past 15 years that
many have depressed feelings on Valentine’s Day. He said a transition
happened about eight to ten years ago that changed students’ attitudes
about the holiday. He began noticing that those with no date felt
left out at Valentine’s Day parties.
“If I bring it up now, some of the ones who are not dating speak
up pretty quick,” said Brittain. “They don’t want to have an event,
and those who are dating will have one.”
Brittain, his staff, and the students who attend activities at
the BCM avoid group activities on the holiday.
Brittain is not the only one to notice a change in people’s attitudes
about Valentine’s Day. JSU Psychology Professor Claudia McDade,
who also directs the Department of Learning Services, said college
students these days are not as involved in finding a love interest.
“They seem to be more involved in learning who they are, trying
to establish their identity,” she said. “Thirty years ago, students
did that in high school.”
Students these days, Dr. McDade said, are less likely to get married
while in college and they postpone significant relationships.
Those aren’t the only reasons, either, for avoiding Valentine’s
Day. Society views holidays differently than just three decades
ago. Holidays such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day were only
for children back then. College-age students and adults these
days dress up for Halloween and take part in Valentine’s Day activities
as a way to reclaim their childhood.
Whether or not a person is depressed about Valentine’s Day depends
on their circumstances, said McDade. “It’s a very individual thing,”
Not all of the single students interviewed, though, think of Valentine’s
Day with negative connotations. Three of the six students were
excited about it. Josh David Mayfield of Kimberly said he loved
Valentine’s Day, even though he is a bachelor. He plans to buy
something for or make phone calls to about 15 of his family members
Sophomore Brandon Pisacrita plans to spend Valentine’s Day looking
for a unique way to express his feelings for his girlfriend, who
lives far away.
“The last letter she sent me was written on a hubcap,” he said.
“I’ll find something crazy and fun and write to her that I hope
things are going well and that I love her.”
Tiffany Lovelady of Ashland has always enjoyed the holiday, she
said, even though she was alone. This year is more exciting because
it is her first to have a boyfriend.
“I’m wondering what he will get me and what I will get him,” she
said, giggling. “We may end up eating at a restaurant and just
spending time together.”
All the students said they would acknowledge the holiday by taking
part in at least one activity, if not with a person they love
romantically then with a person they care about.
Taking part in an activity is the best way to enjoy the holiday
and overcome depression, said Dr. McDade. “Do something nice for
McDade offers several other ideas about how to minimize dread
of that one day out of the year when love reigns:
- Realize the day will pass quickly. It’s not like the Christmas
holiday that lasts for weeks.
- Avoid restaurants on Valentine’s Day and instead go for fast
food. Some restaurants celebrate with roses, special seating,
and special foods—reminders of being alone.
- Do something nice for somebody, even if it is not someone
who is a love interest.
- Do something for children, such as buying treats and taking
them to a day care center.
- Look forward to spring. Once Valentine’s Day is over, spring
is not far behind.
- Avoid spending a lot of money, even if sharing the holiday
with a special person. The day after Valentine’s Day, said McDade,
roses go for half price. Buy your loved one an orchid, a potted
plant, or a piece of jewelry. There’s no sense in wasting money.
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