Sunday Times Style: Don’t be my Valentine…



There is nothing better than being single on Valentine’s Day. I don’t say this because I’m a serial dater, a #foreveraloner or a professional singleton. I say it because I’ve seen it from both sides. When you are dating someone, Valentine’s Day is all crushingly predictable expectations and equally crushingly predictable disappointments. But when you’re single, it rocks. Not least because it’s super-easy to get laid.

Valentine’s Day, why do I hate thee? Let me count the ways. What is there to like about a holiday Clinton Cards made up? Valentine’s Day is to romance what New Year’s Eve is to fun: amateur’s night. For people who know so little about wooing, they have to buy someone else’s idea of how to do it. Valentine’s Day is commercialised infantilisation. It is romantic movies, soft chocolates and fluffy toys. Valentine’s Day presents are ridiculous. They are cut-price seduction. Pound-shop Ann Summers: crotchless polyester red pants and Rampant Rabbits. Even posh lingerie is fraught with fighting (too small feels like a hint. Too big, an insult) and the hassle of returning it afterwards.

Valentine’s dates are depressing: I get bored over dinner. A DVD and a bottle of wine is my idea of hell, and I’d rather slit my wrists than watch Love Actually ever again. My Valentine’s Days as a Better Half have always been awful: on one I found out my boyfriend had cheated on me; on another, my boyfriend gifted me a foot spa. It is hard to say which was more insulting.

If Valentine’s Day meant anything it would be a national holiday, but it’s not. And this tells you all you need to know about it. That it is not a day for private, genuine affection; it’s a day for sending people flowers at work to show off. It could at least be improved on with some honesty. Getting people presents they actually like: therapy or a blender, for example. And instead of buying into some Instagrammable utopia of cupids, sunsets and teddies, we could cut to the chase and just all give each other beans and a blow job — which is all anyone actually wants. Even then, Valentine’s would be a sham. Because true passion is all about choice. Valentine’s Day is compulsion: 24 hours of imposed romance. Like Love Detention.

For all these reasons I hate Valentine’s Day when I am in a couple. Not because I hate love, but because I love love, which is so much more than romance. Which doesn’t happen on a set date, delivered by Interflora, but turns up at 3am on a Tuesday night. It texts you at work when you’re hungover, saying you’re hot. It’s there for you long after roses have wilted and romantic dinners have made you put on a stone. Trying to compare the idea of love that Valentine’s Day sells us to what love truly means is like comparing Girl’s Aloud’s Love Machine to Billie Holiday’s All or Nothing at All.


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