On Saturday night, I tripped and completely fell on my face on Broad Street and ended up with a very embarrassing knee injury. This Sunday, February 14, is Valentine’s Day. For me, the latter is much worse.
Many girls have a love-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. They love Valentine’s Day when they have a boyfriend and hate it when they don’t. However, I have a hate-hate relationship Valentine’s Day; I dread Valentine’s Day no matter what.
To be honest, I haven’t always hated Valentine’s Day. In elementary school when we all sent Valetnine’s Day cards to each other, I used to look forward to picking out the cards I was going to send and would make sure my handwriting was extra neat on the Valentines for my best friends and whichever boy I had a crush on that year. Yet, once Valentine’s Day became less about friends, silly crushes and cupcakes with pink frosting, and more about serious relationships, I grew to hate the holiday.
Valentine’s Day forces everyone, and I would argue especially girls, to conform to an ideal that for most of us does not exist. If you are single on Valentine’s Day, you are made to feel completely inadequate, even though every other day of the year you might be happy to be single. When you are single, on any given night, you can do whatever you want without any obligations. You can spend as much time as you want going out and partying with your friends or you can sit in front of the TV and eat raw cookie dough while watching bad reality television (Note: That example is completely hypothetical). However, on Valentine’s Day, you are made to feel that if you aren’t spending your nights with a boyfriend telling each other how much you love each other, your life is suddenly inadequate. While many people who are single do want relationships, there are just as many who are happy to be without one. On Valentine’s Day, however, it suddenly does not feel as if there is a choice.
I would also argue that Valentine’s Day isn’t any better for people in relationships. If you are happy in your relationship, whatever type of relationships it is, there is pressure to somehow up the ante to take your relationship to some “next level.” Whether it’s becoming “official,” saying “I love you” or proposing marriage, many individuals feel that Valentine’s Day is some deadline to decide the fate of their relationships. While maybe for some people February 14 is the day they fell in love or were ready to ask their partner to move in with them, for the rest of the population the date is completely arbitrary and they may not be ready to change anything. There are so many expectations that all too often, two individuals who were happy in their relationship before Valentine’s Day end up disappointed.
Valentine’s Day also aims to make everyone who is unhappy in their relationship put their feelings aside on February 14. There is an unspoken one-week black hole surrounding Valentine’s Day on either end where it is forbidden to break up with someone. If you break up with someone before Valentine’s Day, not only do they have to feel sad and alone, but sad and alone on Valentine’s Day. If you break up with someone after Valentine’s Day, then whatever you did on Valentine’s Day now seems like some sort of sham and whoever got dumped feels cheated, in addition to the regular sadness of a break up. In high school, one of my best friends got dumped near Valentine’s Day. Little did her ex-boyfriend know that my friend had made surprise dinner reservations that had a financial penalty for cancelling. So she and I went out to dinner for Valentine’s Day. I listened as she ranted about how much of a jerk her ex-boyfriend was while I nodded in agreement and tried not to think about how much this dinner was costing. Needless to say it was pretty awkward. Looking back, my friend would be happy that her dysfunctional relationship with that boy ended and that she was able to meet more boys and have fun in high school. But Valentine’s Day made what should have been an okay break-up into something terrible.
The most convincing argument I have heard in favor of Valentine’s Day is that it is a day for you to recognize the people you care about in your life. On paper, that sounds great. I know that I take a lot of my friends and family for granted and I wish I told them how much I appreciate them more. But, honestly, that’s not what today’s Valentine’s Day is about. Even though I wish my family a happy Valentine’s Day, the holiday is completely focused on the love between a couple, not friends or family. Instead of celebrating the broad ideas of love and friendship, it has become exclusive, pitting those in relationships against those who aren’t. Ultimately, the holiday creates a lot more resentment than love.
Apparently many boys out there are sick of the idea of Valentine’s Day as well, claiming that it is completely centered on what women want. These boys have come up with an alternative holiday: Steak and Blowjobs Day. While I’m sure nobody appreciates this gender stereotyping, I think many of us would prefer that to the pressure of Valentine’s Day.