I wrote this earlier in the week to my subscriber base for one of my platforms. It’s been adapted for this platform. Enjoy and have a happy Valentine’s Day!

With love,
~Ms. Uduak

As Valentine’s approaches, often, there is anxiety and sadness. This stems from the immense commercialization and corresponding pressure from television commercials, movies, online and offline retail stores, social media etc. all driving the message of buy, buy, buy and buy some expensive items to show you really love that special person in your life.

For many, there is the anxiety of not having a valentine (being single, separated or divorced) or having a “Valentine” and feeling miserable in the relationship (toxic, unhealthy relationship) or having a valentine but no resources to buy these items that allegedly and truly demonstrate true love.

Here are my 2 cents for all it’s worth for you for this week navigating Valentine’s Day.

First, if you have a valentine, are in a healthy relationship and can afford to buy your valentine the most expensive gifts possible, enjoy yourself. Enjoy time with your honey, sweetheart, shawty, boo thang or whatever names you call each other. And do not, I repeat, do not let anyone “pour sand in your garri.” This means do not answer calls, engage in discussions or entertain social media posts from people who have a sob story about the special occasion. This is not the time to become a counselor or psychotherapist. It is time for you and your valentine to enjoy yourselves, without any interruption.

Second, if you are in a healthy and loving relationship but the resource to buy the expensive gifts your valentine wants is simply not there, I implore you to enjoy the special day but cut your coat according to your size on the expenses. Valentine doesn’t have to be on Feb. 14. You can always save up and buy that gift later during the year. Hopefully, your valentine understands, and if not, you may want to rethink your current “situationship.”

Third, if you are in a toxic, unhealthy relationship, don’t focus on all the things wrong with your partner. On the contrary, focus on you. Have a sit down with yourself and ask why you are okay with accepting the status quo, and even more importantly, what have you done to be a part of or create the status quo. This applies whether you are in a married or unmarried situation.

The truth is a lot of the toxicity we bring and/or accept in a relationship comes from our personal backgrounds and experiences, and society’s influence on what the “perfect” relationship should look like. If you have or had people in your life that equate love with being merit-based (they only love you when you are good), requiring perfection (through achievements, looks etc.), or fulfilling society’s standard of what role each gender (man or woman) must play, don’t be surprised if you find yourself repeating that cycle with the loved ones in your life, or allowing them to set those requirements for you.

The harsh reality is all of the aforementioned false programmings have a detrimental and very skewed effect on how you end up defining love. This Valentine’s week you must first acknowledge the lie, then reject it and begin to replace it with God’s requirements for giving and receiving love. There is a great hit song by a Nigerian gospel-recording artist, Sinach, which speaks to this. Listen to it below and hope it encourages you.

Fourth and finally, if you are single this Valentine’s, there is nothing wrong with that, contrary to what everything and everyone out there will tell you. Take yourself out, have a good time, and enjoy your day. Keep working on being the best version of you. If you have like-minded positive single friends that want to hang out, enjoy some quality time strengthening your friendships with them and affirming each other. Please don’t get on social media and be a “hater” or call one of your girls or boys who you know is trying to enjoy quality time with their significant other, to rain on their parade with your sob story. Your time will come. In the meantime, just enjoy yourself.

This week, may you feel loved every step of the way.

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