How to share love… when you’re not in love

How to share love- when you’re not in love

Confession time: Being single used to mean hating Valentine’s Day

When I wanted desperately to be in love, the parade of coworkers carrying roses to their desks made February 14 a dark, depressing day.

I’ve become very comfortable with my single-ness. (Turns out I’m not great at sharing). But because life doesn’t involve including someone else in my thinking all day, every day, it’s easy to focus only on myself. (And, of course, my cats.)

So Valentine’s Day is a nice nudge. I’m not in love—but that doesn’t mean I can’t share love. This year, I’m thinking about a few ways to put happy feelings into a world that needs them more than ever. So, here are a few ideas for on how to share love this Valentine’s Day.

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 Make a Connection

  • Look up and make eye contact when you walk up the street or down the hall or stand in the elevator. Put your phone in your pocket. Smile with your whole face. And if you ask, “How’s it going?” stick around for the answer.
  • When you notice something good, say something nice. Instead of keeping it in your head, blurt it out. Compliment a dazzling smile or a cozy sweater. Express your admiration for anything from super-neat handwriting to smart ideas. Better still, put it in writing. Send words praise to managers. Be that weirdo who leaves friendly sticky notes or index cards everywhere she goes.
  • Next time you’re having fun with friends—or even in a particularly enjoyable meeting—tell people you’re glad you’re with them. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Just “I love how easy it is to be together” or “Y’all always make me feel like I’m part of something wonderful” or “Can I just say how much I like working with this team?”

 Give a Gift

  • I read this idea years ago in the book Love Is the Killer App. When you think someone would benefit from a book, don’t just recommend it: Give it to them. Now I’m in the habit of buying an extra copy when I read something extra wonderful.
  • Make something and give it away. Food. Art. Crafts. Make an extra batch of cookies or Jell-O shots. Make an ittybitty that looks like a family member. Cross-stitch a friend’s favorite saying. Don’t wait for a reason.
  • When you grab a bottle of wine to take to a friend’s house, pick up something little for their kid or pet, like a coloring book or a toy. Along with making a small being happy, it tells your pal: “What matters to you, matters to me.”

 Make a Promise

  • Have a hobby you can’t get enough of? Volunteer to teach others how to do it. Volunteer through a sports league, arts non-profit, church or nursing home. Try it a few times, and if it works commit, long-term. I signed on to take over teaching a high school improv comedy troupe until a couple of seniors graduated. Eighteen years later, I know it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
  • Try self-prescribed social media assignments. One friend spent the last few months of the election cycle posting absolutely nothing but adorable animal videos. Another finds unique affirmations about kindness to put up every day. Maybe just try being generous with “likes” and “hearts.” Or swearing off posting mean-spirit memes, no matter how hilarious they might be (#personalgoal).
  • Challenge yourself to be more vulnerable. I spent parts of my single life building up protective barriers around what I thought was my fragile little heart. But when nothing can get in, nothing can get out. Being intentionally openhearted can be terrifying, but makes me feel more human and more connected.

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