Ah, Valentine’s day. The very thought of Valentine’s day conjures up images of couples in color coordinated outfits holding hands on their way to P.F. Chang’s for a regulation date that will end with slightly disappointing regulation sex, Russell Stover chocolate boxes grabbed in the express lane of Safeway when last-minute “oh-fuck-my-girlfriend-will-hate-me-unless-I-buy-this-assortment-of-questionable-quality-chocolate-so-I-better-tack-it-onto-my-purchase-of-this-shortcase-of-Bud Light” panic sets in, indistinguishable shadows sitting in front of the TV playing Halo 4 in a dark room musing on how girls would never be as good or hot as Cortana, and lonely people sighing deeply into their half-eaten Ben & Jerry’s while mourning the loss of the ingested bottle of wine and lamenting that they should have bought two.
If you fit into one of these categories, congratulations, this is Valentine’s Day. This is where the festival of Lupercalia, a celebration of supposedly increased purity and fertility over the span of three days, sent through a food processor, printed on sparkly cards and holographic heart stickers, and subsequently mass produced by Hallmark, has lead us. In case you missed it: relationships = contractual obligation to be romantic in a socially accepted way (sorry potential Peeping Toms reading this, try again) for the night; singleness = ultimately leads to shameful, pitiful, and undying loneliness. Did I mention how horrible it is to be single? That’s right, there is absolutely nothing worse in the whole wide world than being single. Ever. You might as well jump off a bridge and not show your face, you ugly fugly monster of a person.
Except for the fact that being single isn’t necessarily a bad thing—I think people need to know and learn how to be alone and function like a human being without having a prop to hold them up. I’ve spent (by and large) the majority of my life single and, even if it was hard sometimes, I wouldn’t have traded it, because it taught me how to think through my problems and be ultra-aware of people’s heart shaped candy bullshit.
There are a lot of men and women who need a romantic relationship to feel like a whole person, who can’t really function without someone there to hold open doors and laugh at their lame jokes, and Valentine’s Day is especially hard for these folks if they’re suffering from singleness. This probably comes from some deep-seeded psychological insecurity, which I won’t go into because I don’t know your life, but rest assured the constant reminders to find happiness in the popular media of Edwards and Bellas and Christian Greys and whateverthehellthechickfrom50Shadesisnamed, don’t help matters. Relationships are equated to happiness, without one, you must be so, so miserable. Valentine’s Day is just an excuse to tell people that if they’re alone, they’re pathetic and must be sad, and if they’re alone and happy about it, then there is something seriously wrong with them. It’s unmerited to have a holiday that takes pride in telling someone (e.g. all the single ladies and gents) they’re inferior and it’s pretty freakin’ mean spirited—why celebrate it?
Single-shaming aside, there are a lot of other things wrong if you’re actually in a relationship, like how the only way to show someone you love them is to spend money. Lots of money. On chocolate, Edible Arrangements, flowers, Olive Garden, and, if the commercials playing on repeat during the programming on ESPN over the past week have told me anything, celebrity endorsed jewelry.
Didn’t you know? Unless you’re spending an average of $218 this Valentine’s Day, chances are that you will go home sexless and frustrated, because that’s how much “your vagina is worth.” Nothing says romance like inserting in a K-Ci & JoJo cassette, wearing too much cologne, and only acting like a ~nice guy to get some loin instigated action. Epitomizing the class of Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to see why this methodology is so heavily employed and even more obvious as to why women allow it to happen, sticking to the standards of being expensively wined and dined on February 14th because that’s real romance and if I don’t do anything this V-Day, what will people think? It makes so much sense! Screw independently-formed emotions, I’d rather find out how I should feel by commercials and this cheesy, glittery card in the shape of vital organ. Oh, it’s a heart! That means love!
I never realized how much I hated Valentine’s Day until I was in a relationship during this time of year, I mean, sure, I disliked it in a sad way when I was single, but there is an insane pressure to do something as a couple, and if the couple decides that they’re not going to celebrate they stick out like a societal pustule. When I told one of my friends that my S.O. and I joint-agreed not to celebrate magical cherub romance day, I was met with a response along the lines of “this is the first time you have the chance to celebrate it, why aren’t you making him take you out to dinner?” There is nothing quite like being stigmatized for not fitting into a stereotype, but shouldn’t my S.O. be romantic year-round? None of this one-day shit. Valentine’s Day romantic gestures will always have the Limp Bizkit “I’m doing this all for the nookie” mentality, and I’m totally not sorry that, that doesn’t pervade my healthy romantic relationship.
If you’re letting Valentine’s Day get you down for whatever reason, whether it is not being able to afford a gift or feeling like a lonely sack of sad, turn off the TV, turn off your music, sit in silence for a bit, and reevaluate your life standards. If you need one day out of the year to find out whether or not your relationship is shit, chances are you already know the answer and that bouquet of out of season discount flowers isn’t going to make it better. If you’re alone and are letting corporately constructed ideas of romance get to you, you really need to step back learn how to be independent because you shouldn’t need another person to validate your existence through jewelry or chocolate or whatever. Stick it to the man.
Drink if you like, eat chocolate if you like, hang with your friends if you like, bang that dude or chick you kind of like if you like, write odes to your cat if you like, spoil yourself if you like, go out with your partner if you like, but do it because you’re fucking awesome or because your relationship makes you happy, not because you’re sad or feel obligated to fit into a very specific bullshit mold. Romance, love, and caring about another person is a beautiful, wonderful thing, don’t let this day out of the year cheapen the experience with negativity and stereotypes. It’s not fair to anyone.
On an unrelated note, everyone should be celebrating something more important today: the birthday of Oregon. Happy birthday Oregon!