Are you single and lonely or married and miserable? As Valentine’s Day approaches and many get ready to celebrate their relationships or lament the lack of one, here’s a thought: It’s just a date.

Sometime in the past, someone thought it would be nice to celebrate love. Eventually, stores used the occasion as an excuse to make you spend. “Honey, what do you want for Valentine’s?” asks a loving husband over dinner. Didn’t we just have Christmas? There’s nothing I want that can be bought at the store (a little me time, a wild night out, a day without responsibilities). “How about we exchange cards and call it a day?” Once you are married and living a partnership you realize that nobody outside of it can dictate how or when you celebrate love. But if you’re single, you’re in a unique position to freely enjoy because you don’t have to compromise.

The truth is, the moment you are sharing a place with someone, life turns into a never-ending cycle of compromise, in which nobody really gets what they want most of the time. That is, if you are in a functional relationship. If all your needs are being met and you are getting your way, chances are your partner is not – and he/she might resent you for it. Expect retaliation. Think of it as the U.S. Congress. When Republicans are happy Democrats sure are not, and vice-versa. But when neither party gets what they want and they have to compromise, then you know democracy is working.

Enter kids. I realize the above paragraph puts committed relationships in a bad light.  If you didn’t know I am exaggerating for the sake of making a point, you would think I resent the noble institution of marriage (insert smile and eye-roll here). In fact, there are many happily married newly weds out there enjoying all the things they have in common and getting 100% of what they want every single day. Right? Let’s assume for a moment that this is right. Add kids to the equation and everything changes. Kids= more work + less play + less energy to play. Things just got a lot more complicated and a lot less fun. Now, on top of compromise you have chores, responsibilities, things to do and fun adult things you cannot do because you are trying to be a good parent to your little bundle of joy. Ah, the bliss!

Let’s not forget that whether you have kids or not, in a relationship you are expected to be “nice” to your partner most of the time, something that only works if he/she reciprocates. Communication can get tricky and in order not to hurt each other’s feelings, you may need to filter your thoughts and keep your actions in check… every single day. I elaborate on this topic in my post Of Relationships and Filters.

In short, sometimes being single and lonely sucks, but marriage can suck too and it is a lot more work. Enjoy your freedom while it lasts. The magic of novelty fades not long after you say “I do” and after that all you have is work, compromise and filters…. sprinkled with a few moments of joy.

Valentine’s for those who are married is about celebrating those joyful moments and the fact that, in spite of the hassle, you choose to commit to someone you love. For the single, Valentine’s should be a celebration of possibilities and the freedom of not having to compromise on dinner, TV shows, furniture or baby names.

Valentine’s: Single and lonely or married and miserable.