Recently, a buddy said, “As the ‘Finding Love after 50’ columnist, what plans do you have for you and your new woman friend to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year?”

I think he expected to hear me describe something fancy, such as a romantic evening at one of the nearby five-star hotels or upscale restaurants near my home.

I hadn’t thought about our Valentine’s Day plans and replied, “The plans will be low-key. We’ll stay home and enjoy a fire in the fireplace. We might splurge by preparing a seafood dinner with a spinach salad, and a glass of Chianti topped off with a piece or two of See’s candy. We’ll be asleep long before midnight.”

He looked at me with a raised eyebrow and muttered, “But you’ve written about senior love for 29 years.”

I said, “I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. Granted, it’s good for the economy. However, greeting-card companies, restaurants, candy makers, and flower shops mount such an overwhelming marketing blitz, I feel it takes some of the romance out of Valentine’s Day.

“Similar to New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day can make people without a mate feel lonelier than they already are. That’s why I avoid making Valentine’s Day a big deal in my columns. I don’t want lonely people to feel even worse.”

My friend’s comments reminded me that when I was younger, I experienced some lonely Valentine’s Days.

In a 1996 column, I wrote: “Valentine’s is a bummer for me this year. I’ve taken a few romantic hits lately: divorce, rejection, and loneliness.”

Valentine’s Day 2023 was that way. My partner of 25 years, Greta, had passed away four months before.

I stayed home that Valentine’s night and thought to myself, “Even though I’m grieving, I have my health, a nice roof over my head, good friends, and my two sisters who care about me.”

This year, I have a new woman friend in my life. To us, every day is Valentine’s Day, so we aren’t going to make a big deal out of it this year. We appreciate very much what we have.

I think the most thoughtful thing a couple can do on Valentine’s Day is to reach out to lonely friends who may be spending the day alone. Invite them to join you for lunch or dinner. Share the love of the day with them.

And look after them during the rest of the year. Loneliness isn’t just a Valentine’s Day reality. It’s year-round.

That said, a Valentine’s rose or orchid for your sweetheart is always appreciated.


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