anti-valentine’s day: why I think v-day is full of bitterness and unrealistic expectations
On Valentine’s Day, February 14, people either find themselves in the glittering category of ‘With Valentine’ or its embittered counterpart, ‘Without Valentine’.
Those in the latter group may feel exceptionally left out. Sad, lonely, and generically flat because they’re watching a 24-hour celebration they aren’t invited to due to their lack of a plus-one.
Naturally then, this group turns acrid. Resistance forms, and not without reason: if you’re told that you’re left out, despite how you choose to acknowledge it, the seed has been planted. It’s out there.
In forming this resistance, a polarized system of difference is created. Those ‘With Valentine’ are posited directly against those ‘Without Valentine’. Ideas of ‘with partner’ as a synonym for happiness are vindicated and lead further away from those ‘without partner.’ Reserves of self-worth are interrogated. Unrealistic desires are created. Relationships are reduced to a rose-tinted idea that equal successful human existence. You are either included or excluded. You are either good enough to be chosen, or not.
By engaging with attitudes linked to either side of this binary, we’re validating all this ridiculousness.
For one, the very concept of a relationship becomes crudely simple. People are complicated. Not all relationships are happy, and not all are healthy. It’s hard work to connect with another person on a deep level, and even harder to sustain that connection. But because we know, and are told just how great it is, the sparkly idea of success urges us on, and deflects attention away from the actual dynamic between two.
The complex process of sharing yourself with another person is not an opaque, invariable synonym for happiness. Whilst feeling loved is one of the most terrific sensations out there, the blind pursuit of it as an ideal blocks our capacity to gauge what’s actually happening. We conveniently erase the fact that romantic relationships, like anything, are complicated and should be treated on a case-by-case basis.
For another, just because you aren’t on the ‘successful’ side of the fence for the 24 hours of February 14, it doesn’t mean the celebration is irrelevant or somehow inaccessible to you. It also means that being bitter because you’re single on Valentine’s Day suggests that on your own, you’re somehow worth less. Being single is not a consolation prize, and nor should it be treated as one. Other relationships like having friends are not consolation prizes either, and the very insinuation that they are less integral to human happiness needs to be violently scratched out and reversed.
So, this Valentine’s Day, don’t be anything except exactly what you were on February 13, and will continue to be from February 15 onwards. Whatever category you’re in, being jealous or self-important creates and validates a negatively-charged binary that slowly, but consistently eats at our reserves of self-esteem. Being in a relationship should just be a thing that happens, not an ideal to strive towards or a marker of success in any way, shape or form. It’s a choice that’s fine to make, and an experience it’s okay to want and enjoy, so long as it’s considered on the correct critical keel.
By Monica Karpinski
What do you think, Lipsters? Do you love Valentine’s Day? Hate it? Check out our Pro-Valentine’s Day post here!