In 2017, Toluna Research, a market research firm, conducted a study on behalf of Dairy Queen to determine both singles’ and couples’ attitudes about Valentine’s Day. The research found an interesting detail, that single men are more likely to be sad on Valentine’s Day than women. Further, one in four single men are likely to lie about having plans for the day.
As a single man, I don’t find that all surprising. I find it more interesting that Dairy Queen wants to know if you’re sad on Valentine’s Day or not. Let’s be honest though, ice cream can soothe a wounded heart for an evening. However, the research does call into question, why lie about your plans on Valentine’s Day? And how do we heal from feelings of loneliness and shame?
Cultural norms play a big role in male vulnerability. Men don’t want to share they feel alone or sad on any day, especially Valentine’s day. Culture has clearly made it hard on women to be single on Valentine’s Day, but men are expected to live above it. We almost get a pass in that it’s more socially acceptable to be single. We are focused on our careers. We have to play the field a bit. We can be emotionally disconnected. But single men are emotional. We feel sadness. We’re not only focused on our careers. Many of us are tired of playing the field.
Brene’ Brown says of male emotional vulnerability, “[Men are] afraid to make themselves vulnerable for fear of looking weak. But if you can’t be vulnerable, then you can’t truly grow and be your best self.” As a single man, I can often feel weak because I haven’t successfully navigated romantic relationships. It’s not just a romantic relationship, I sometimes feel weak in maintaining friendships and connection with others.
So how can we manage our feelings of shame and loneliness? We have to talk about them. Loneliness can cause a lot of shame, but as Brene’ Brown says, “Shame can’t survive being spoken.” Romantic relationships are not the solution. I believe it’s about connecting to others. I acknowledge how tough it is to say, “I’m lonely.” It starts with saying it to ourselves. We must be honest with our feelings. Healing requires us to share those feelings with others. Maybe you start with seeking out counseling or sharing with a trusted friend.
Ultimately, this is not just a Valentine’s Day feeling. For me, I’m normally fine without a Valentine’s date; it certainly saves me some money. I struggle on that Saturday afternoon when I want to watch a movie on Netflix with someone but feeling like no one is available. I trust that God has a plan in my singleness. I’m not pursuing marriage; I’m pursuing God. I know there are people around me now who want to connect with me. I have to be vulnerable enough to admit I need them too. So, grab that ice cream pint on Valentine’s day, it definitely helps, but look for truly healing connections with others.