Once a year I’m startled by the way society can collectively get together to make such a big deal out of whether or not someone has someone who can buy them a giant chocolate heart. It seems to me that Valentine’s day probably was just once about being able to send a secret message to someone you sorta had a crush on as oppose to declaring your undying love for someone you already had. Being alone on Valentine’s day is often the cause for pity; I went out yesterday to buy myself a “well-done-your-writing-didn’t-suck-today-chocolate-bar” and the teller asked me if I had slipped up and was simply buying a Valentine’s gift with record tardiness. When I told her no, she gave a sorrowful ‘awww’ and told me not to worry, that I was a pretty thing, and I would one day have a nice-young-man to buy extravagantly late romantic presents for. I’m not sure she would have liked to hear this, but the truth is that even if I had a nice-young-man, I probably wouldn’t buy him Tesco’s own brand 31p chocolate. Then again, I wouldn’t buy him a ridiculously over-sized teddy-bear with a nauseatingly bad love related pun inscribed into its foot either.
I suppose my real gripe with Valentine’s day is that it puts so much emphasis on romantic attachments, and seems to regard that as the single most important type of love, and the single most important element in our lives. Being alone on Valentine’s day is a feeling akin to watching a Mills and Boon inspired movie. This morning my Facebook page was inundated with pictures of bouquets and status updates informing me of how much my romantically involved friends adored their other half, but I was confused by the idea that in order to really show love you have to tell everybody who has nothing to do with it. In a way I suppose its endearing that someone wants to proclaim how special you are to everybody they meet, but on the other it feels like people are just reassuring themselves more than anything. Valentine’s day just seems like an excuse to question whether someone is actually as important to you as you believe they are.
I’m also not a big fan of gratuitous gift giving, because not only is it economically unproductive, it makes romance about what material goods you are able to provide for your other half. I always feel deflated when I hear someone moaning about the fact that their beloved forgot Valentine’s day, because the matter seems less important than the many other times he or she probably came through for you at their own expense. If love is a ridiculously over-sized stuffed animal which smells like strawberries then I think I’d rather just have a really, really, really good friend who I also might happen to sleep with. I haven’t yet met a couple whose deeper problems were solved by a box of chocolates; I haven’t yet met a person who really forgave their romantic partner because they received an ‘I’m sorry’ heart-shaped soap.
I think the part most people might get wrong is to separate love and friendship. I have friends who I know mean more to me in their platonic gestures, than any boyfriend would in his obsession with buying me jewelery. Truth be told, I’d rather be with someone I knew would race to my side in moments of trouble, than I would with someone who was really into spoiling me on Valentine’s day, but wouldn’t listen when I had a real problem. I think if you spend your life captivated by the need to find a person to spend the rest of your life with, you miss out on many life experiences, and on all the people already around you who provide everything a relationship should other than the carnal side.
It strikes me that if you require a day to remind yourself how much in love with a person you are, you’re probably not getting it right in the first place.