While many people observe Valentine’s Day with happy romance, not everyone will be  celebrating with chocolates and a candlelit dinner Tuesday.

Plenty are observing the day without a romantic partner. Some are recently widowed. Others are surviving a breakup, or even celebrating one.

That’s one reason why Gina Alibrio of Portland is looking forward to performing with her band – Gina and the Red Eye Flight Crew – Monday night at an “anti-Valentine’s Ball” at the Portland House of Music. The show is sold out.

“We’re going to do a Valentine’s Day show, but we want to flip the script a little and do something different,” she said.

Instead of sappy love songs, the band will perform fun, energetic breakup songs, said Alibrio, the group’s vocalist.

Her band’s fan base includes “amazing couples,” but many other fans are single and unpartnered, especially younger adults. The band also wants to pay homage to restaurant workers who will work on Tuesday’s Valentine’s Day evening. Monday will be their time to celebrate, she said.

Advertisement

Brian Bell of Portland, who plans to attend Monday’s event, said whether you have reason to celebrate on Valentine’s Day or not, the anti-Valentine’s Day Ball gives a reason to go out, hear great music and “dance the night away. Who doesn’t need more of that?”

Rachel Casey, a social worker and assistant professor at the University of Southern Maine, said an unromantic take on Valentine’s Day is welcome.

Many won’t be celebrating a romantic Valentine’s Day with more younger generations rejecting traditional milestones of marriage or having a long-term relationship, says University of Southern Maine assistant professor Rachel Casey. William Wohler of Wohler & Co.

More younger adults are rejecting the traditional romantic ideal “that has been sold to us through popular media,” Casey said. They are more likely to postpone, or reject, traditional milestones associated with adulthood, including marriage or unmarried long-term monogamous relationships, she said.

Younger people aren’t buying into the social and cultural expectations “that are put on us, and that we put on ourselves, in terms of what types of relationships we should have.”

And people with marginalized sexual identities don’t see them reflected in the way that Valentine’s Day is promoted, Casey said.

A rising share of American adults are not living with a romantic partner, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center analysis. About four in 10 adults ages 25 to 54 were not married or living with a romantic partner, up from 1990 when 29% were unpartnered. Men are more likely to be unpaired, which wasn’t the case 30 years ago, according to the analysis.

Advertisement

The percentage of American adults living with a spouse decreased from 52 percent to 50 percent in the last decade, according to 2021 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau.

And the holiday can sting people who have lost a partner. Widows or widowers, or anyone who has lost a long-term romantic partner, often feel a significant loss on Valentine’s Day, especially if the holiday is the first year of being solo, Casey said.

Casey works with domestic abuse survivors, another group that can feel pain on Valentine’s Day. Like other holidays, calls to domestic abuse hotlines typically increase around Valentine’s Day. The day “increases the sense of pressure and tension within an abusive or violent relationship,” she said.

For those without someone to share a romantic dinner, Casey stresses that love looks a lot of different ways.

Valentine’s Day should be celebrated “with whatever type of love you have that is healthy and supportive is perfect,” Casey said. For those feeling a loss, “surround yourselves with the other loved ones in your life, whether that’s children, friends or a furry friend.”

Kyra Hunsicker of the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland said she’s heard endless happy stories from those who have adopted dogs or cats. And she knows how important that is for many people at this time of year.

“Every day we hear how much joy and love dogs give,” she said. “We’re matchmakers.”

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: