Oh what a glorious day it is today, a day focused on love, romance and gift giving, filled with heady expectation and shared moments, secret crushes revealed and burning yearning out-poured.  No pressure or anything.

For the record: Valentine’s Day blows Polynesian yard goat.

Few other ‘Special Days’ throughout the year have the capacity for leaving people feeling quite so cruddy: a lack of something in your stocking at Christmas can be excused away as being a commercial cash-in targeting children that you don’t care for anyway; you can convince yourself that Easter isn’t a big deal as you’re not really a huge fan of chocolate (lies), and the pagan rabbit and chicken fertility references leave you feeling slightly queasy; but Valentine’s Day, the celebration of love…this one strikes a blow under the belt.

As humans we are geared towards pairing up and whether you believe it’s instinct or design, whether you believe that love at first sight or simply the right combination of chemicals draw two individuals together; either way we all want to love and be loved in return, and for a day to put our hearts on the chopping block is mean beyond words.  V-Day is associated almost entirely with romantic love, the worst kind as it has the potential to be the most painful.  This isn’t the day for giving a carefully selected box of chocolates in a sexy lace wrapping to your Granny.

On any other day a marriage proposal is wonderful, but if it happens on V-Day can smack of predictability.  On any other day giving a romantic card or gift to your loved one would be a relationship counselors dream of impulsive and spontaneous gestures, but if it’s done on V-Day it can become something expected or demanded.  On any other day a whirlwind trip to a romantic city or hotel is a gorgeous treat, but on V-Day it can simply mean that you’ve put in the effort to come up with an impressive present and helped your partner be able to hold their head high when talking to What’s-Their-Name who only got a box of chocolates and trip to the cinema from their partner this year.

V-Day can mean so many things to different people.  Some people value V-Day as it’s the one day of the year that their less-than-romantic partners are contractually obliged to make a gesture of romance; for some couples in long-term relationships, past the days of spontaneous romantic gestures, it helps to have a day set aside to remember why they fell in love; others value V-Day as a way for them to show off to their friends or colleagues, and it becomes less about the meaning behind the gesture and more about what the gesture itself is.

For some couples, V-Day melts away and simply becomes a day like any other as they don’t feel the need to fall in line with the commercial machine, and pump money into it in order to communicate their feelings to their partner.  For others in the teething stages of a relationship it’s a day to demonstrate to your partner or potential partner exactly why you would be a great choice for significant other.  For others, it’s the chance to let your intended know that you exist.

I believe that women get the better deal out of Valentine’s Day as men are the ones who traditionally are expected to plan something impressive, but there are so many stories in woman’s magazines mocking the attempts of men to be romantic.  Those women shouldn’t complain and should be thankful that they at least have a V-Day story to tell, even if it’s one that puts a smile on their face.  For some people it’s a day designed by an evil mind to remind them that they have yet to find that special someone and are still tackling life without a companion.

Men know that today the pressure is on: be imaginative, be careful, know what she wants, don’t be predictable, choose wisely, plan carefully, but above all make it seem spontaneous…it just goes on and on.  If love is something that cannot be brought, why should men be told that today of all days they need to buy generic gifts of cards, chocolates and flowers to ensure that their partner knows that they love them.

So people, whether you’ve decided that this year it’s wonderful to celebrate love and relationships; if you’re bravely summoning up the courage to let someone special know you’re out there; if you’re taking the approach that it’s a commercial scam and best avoided; if both of you feel it’s unnecessary to pin the celebration of your love to one day; if you’ve got the fear that your partner is going to be unhappy with the value or quality of your gift; you’ve been planning today for the past few months and are so excited to see the look on your partners face; if you genuinely forgot to set your calendar reminder and know it’s going to be another sad year of last-minute wilting flowers and melting chocolate from a 24/7 corner shop…whatever category you fall into, make sure you don’t allow this one day to become the day on which you fall into line and think about love.

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