Eleanor Rigby

I have a hunch that the number of Missed Connections posts increases leading up to occasions like Valentine’s Day (I haven’t gotten around to quantifying this – yet). Even if there aren’t significantly more posts, qualitatively, the messages often seem more longing, and even desperate.

We can get into debates ad nauseam as to whether Valentine’s Day is a sincere holiday, or a marketing scheme cooked up by greeting card companies, etc. That conversation is a dead horse that I don’t feel like beating at the moment. But I think we can probably concur that if you’re single — even if you may usually be content being unattached — it can be tough to be alone on Valentine’s Day.

We’ve all been there. Especially if your friends are all attached, or if you’re pining after the proverbial one that got away, this holiday can be a real bitch. It’s worse, even, then going to pick up the book Lonely: Learning to Live With Solitude at the library, only to discover that it’s closed for the day, or watching that How To Be Alone YouTube video while downing a bottle of wine by yourself.

When I saw the following post, it seemed like a Missed Connection I certainly must have read before.

It’s not surprising that these messages come up periodically on Missed Connections. The longing to be loved can be that much more difficult to abate when your loneliness is contrasted with all the bright red and pink accoutrements of Valentine’s Day.

At the same time, though, I wonder how much we individually punish ourselves. We read Missed Connections, hoping that we caught someone’s eye on the subway, or we ceaselessly check the Facebook and Twitter feeds of our exes to see who they’re with, and whether they’re happy. I don’t think Facebook or other online spaces (including Missed Connections) genuinely make us sad, but I do agree with researchers’ findings that such sites can give us a misleading picture of others’ happiness, which can intensify the feeling of being isolated from others.

Yet, I find it heartening that within two hours of the original post, two anonymous strangers offered their consolations. Of course “Ms. Rigby” is not alone, and of course everyone experiences loneliness – that’s why Eleanor Rigby is such a poignant song.

Happy Valentine’s Day, regardless of whether you’re single or attached.



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