Since I was born February 14th has always been about one special man.
My awesome Grandad, who would have been turning 100 this year. Spending my life associating Valentines Day with my grandfather’s Birthday made it easier to disassociate from the international day of forced and awkward romantic gestures. Valentine’s day is not only a pain in the arse but trots out all kinds of tired gender stereotypes, hetronormativity and other bullshit that we should be way past by now. Valentines sucks for almost everyone and, really, we should just let it fade away like a tracksuit wearing 1990’s one hit wonder.
Guys with girlfriends – Yeah, we see the look of slight strain on your face when you walk past that obnoxious red display in the mall. The bad news is there is a pressure to perform and the last thing you want is to be the loser boyfriend/husband in your girl’s group chat that screwed up the supposedly ‘most romantic day of the year’. The good news is this pressure is mostly in your head and you’re building it up into a media driven something it isn’t. Take a breath. The majority of women I know are more impressed by sweet, private gestures like cooking dinner (we gotta eat anyway) or setting up some tea lights and a movie. You could even do this on any day, because you actually want to, not because the date dictates you should.
Women with boyfriends – You told your partner not to worry. It feels like a chore and you’re saving for that trip to London anyway so let’s just hang out and eat some food, right? Until you get to work and Sharon from accounts is acting all coy as interflora dumps a bouquet the size of a sheep on her desk. “Oooo, I told him not to worry, what did YOUR boyfriend get you?” Well Sharon, he didn’t get me anything because I thought I didn’t care but you’re making me feel sad, defensive and a bit insecure so thanks for that. Valentine’s day is peak competitive relationship-ing. You end up putting pressure on yourself and your partner to come up with a gesture that’s instagram worthy, but who is this really for? Valentines social media posts are not a measure of love, loyalty or kindness. It is personal PR, so don’t fall into the trap of comparing your real relationship to someone else’s highlight reel.
Singles – Nothing like a day that says “this is something wonderful, but you’re not included because you’ve failed at love. Better luck next year”. Gee thanks. I’m unsure what’s worse; Being ignored on the 14th or pubs and bars that don’t do a dinner service holding a ‘singles party’ or (dear lord) a ‘mix n mingle’ because it’s just not socially acceptable to be alone on this date. There’s always a vibe of patronising condescension towards single people on Valentines that has always made me cringe more than the hearts and red balloons. There are many people living perfectly happy lives being single by choice. It’s not a hard concept. Dating seems to have de-evolved into some kind of online shopping experience and I don’t blame anyone for tossing it into the too hard basket and going solo. He bought you a watch you secretly don’t like? Cool story, I bought myself a 10 pack of chicken nuggets and a Rampant Rabbit. No social media likes required.
Same sex relationships – Valentines day may be for lovers but a quick look around shops bursting with His n Hers merch tells you all you need to know about what kind of lovers it’s for. “To my husband from your loving wife” ‘King n Queeen’ hoodie set (yep, that’s an actual thing in stores this year) pink and blue towel sets… the list goes on. The marketing is no better. Every single ad I’ve seen for gifts, restaurants or events feature standard male/female relationship images and language. Of course, no one is forcing you to buy into any of this cheesy stuff but its mere presence sends a pretty strong message of exclusion for those not in hetrosexual relationships.
Steak and blowjob day – Just in case you were ever unsure about the whole economy of Valentines day you now owe your husband or boyfriend for his romantic gesture, to be paid back a month later. I’d like to personally thank the creators of Steak and Blowjob Day for exposing Valentine’s day as the business arrangement it truly is. In light of this I feel like we should draw up a minimum expectation for Valentines. Does one dinner out and a gift over $50 equal one expensive cut of meat and fellatio? Perhaps we could all just cut out the middleman and simply invoice each other. Wow, can you feel the love?
There are many holidays that don’t include everyone, however Valentines day seems to be top of the pile when it comes to not only omitting large groups of people, but making them feel like massive failures for being excluded. If you’re in a relationship do something nice for each other on any date, don’t wait until you’re being assaulted by blow up hearts the minute you try and enter a public place. Romance in any form should come from the heart, not from the calendar and should be given freely, without expectation of ‘pay back’. It’s not the idea of love or romance I object to it’s the pressure and the fakery which makes this day nothing more than a cringe-fest. Please make it stop.