I've never cared much for Valentine's Day, well not since I was five and my primary school crush sent me a love letter hinting at the possibility of future marriage. Pimpin'.
After that, it was all downhill. Every V-day (Valentine's Day), to fill the lull of romantic suitors, my father decided to step in and start sending me anonymous cards signed with "?".
My contempt for this 'special' day probably stems from the fact I have spent the majority of V-day's boyfriendless; February 14th counts as a self-imposed marker of all the years I've spent single. Every year in the run-up to V-day I'd unsuccessfully try to avoid all the cheesy propaganda shoved in my face; card stores selling soppy, impersonal, pre-printed love notes, florists trading fresh roses, sweet shops with gargantuan chocolate love hearts emblazoned across their front window, not forgetting all the maudlin TV adverts.While most of my girlfriends frantically dithered about what to buy and how much money to spend on their other halves, I made trips to ASDA to fill up on Haagen Daas, bottles of rose and rom-com DVD's.
Being the cynical crone that I was, I used to remind myself that the origin of V-day isn't even about love, it's about the brutal martyrdom of Saint Valentine. I also thought of all the bonuses of not having a boyfriend on V-day. For example, I didn't have to worry what present to buy, I wasn't obliged to break the bank for some tacky scented cologne my man so desperately wanted and most of all I'd get to stay in, eat my own body weight in ice-cream and recite the script to "He's Just Not That Into You" whilst drinking myself into a coma. Of course neither my cynicism or my actions ever helped; the morning after I would wake up feeling puffy-eyed, obese and have a harrowing headache.
For a lot of women being single on V-day is like eating toast with no butter; dry and sometimes painful. Women have been subconsciously conditioned to believe the amount of love a man expresses on V-day is an indication of their own desirability and a symbol of the solidarity of their relationship. If (some) women don't have a man to shower them with attention, presents and romantic surprises they may have a tendency to feel unwanted in comparison to their female counterparts. I'm not saying every single woman is jealous and desperate all year round, but on this particular day, her apparent singledom forces her to evaluate herself in comparison to all the other women out there who are being lavished.
So if single women hate the feeling of being alone on V-day, how do you think coupled-up men feel? Not much better I think. To them it's a minefield of potential arguments with their girlfriend resulting from the wrong card, present or restaurant. They empty their wallets to please their women, even when she says "Oh I don't want anything" so you can 'surprise' her; they waste money on a bunch of roses that are 10x the usual price and book tables at expensive restaurants all the while silently questioning why they have to do these things to prove their love. If they haven't f**ked up the relationship already, have treated you well, have proven their love to you, why should they have to express their dedication on one particular day? The pressure must be immense, especially the longer they've been with her. Every February 14th the man is driven to out-do himself. If he got a bunch of roses and a box of chocolates one year, it'd have to be jewellery the next. After that it would be a spa trip, followed by a holiday, the next year maybe a puppy and then a marriage proposal. The poor guy probably expects rampant porno sex after all the stops he's pulled out, but he knows he won't get it; it'll be candles, rose petals and Lionel Richie melodies. It's no wonder men hate V-day.
I've always wondered whether my aversion towards V-day was out of jealousy (as I said previously) or out of genuine dislike because I don't see the point. Now, coupled-up and with V-day fast approaching I can happily admit it was a bit of both. V-day matters less now that I am in a relationship; I don't notice all the soppy propaganda like I used to and when I do it doesn't really bother me. But I've realised my genuine dislike isn't towards the actual day, it's towards the pressure that media and society places on indoctrinating couples to believe they have to spend, spend, spend for it to be real love. All I'd like are blue roses, a nice card and time spent with my boyfriend. Not that demanding am I?