Valentine’s Day: Love is in the air… and so is depression and anxiety. Our culture has laid out roles for each of us to play on this holiday, depending on whether we are single or in a relationship. The trouble is, the script is about as satisfying as the ending of “Lost”. Let’s take a look:
THE SINGLE SQUAD
It seems like there are two options here: sinking into a pit of misery, or deciding that V-day means losing your V-card. Option A assumes that Valentine’s Day is an irreversible signal of your impending fate to die unloved and alone. Every show of affection on this day is an intentional stab-wound to a heart that shrivels away minute by minute. In fact, going out today and witnessing it all would be just plain masochistic. Outside world, you had your chance. To the Nutella jar it is.
Option B focuses on Valentine’s Day’s past as a fertility ritual, while serving as a giant middle finger to the idea of monogamous relationships. It begins with flirting (often with methods about as subtle as using “Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?” as a pickup line), and ends with you becoming the lovechild of a tequila-desperation-shame threesome. Even more so than most Keg nights.
THE S.S. RELATION-SHIP
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have a set ideal for couples; the end of every fairytale. The stuff Taylor Swift sings about. The stories that got forwarded through chain letters in middle school, hearts and emoticons included.
The girls in these relationships know his favorite song, his aspirations, his greatest fears. The guys don’t tell her she’s hot, they tell her she’s beautiful.
In reality, though, no relationship is perfect. And in striving for perfection, especially with the pressure and clichés of Valentine’s Day, couples easily move from “adorable” to “obnoxious” to “shoot me now”. Don’t get me wrong, I like stuffed animals and chocolate as much as the next person, but when the animals are matching pink fluffy heart-covered bears that squeak “I wuvs you”… well, this is the line, and you are way the eff over it. It’s one thing to celebrate coupledom, and quite another to assert that no single person could be as happy as you are because, well, they just don’t have any fluffy pink bears in that barren land of singlehood.
Of course, not all couples or all single people are like these stereotypes, unless you live in a world that’s a cross between MTV and Hallmark. But these cultural beliefs are creating antagonistic and unsatisfying approaches to a day that is supposedly about bringing people together. This Valentine’s Day should be whatever you want it to be: a celebration of relationships, of individuality, or just another day where you take some time to tell the people you love that you value them. I turn to the immortalized words of one wise sage: “I wish we could all just get along like we used to in middle school. I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and we could all eat it and be happy.”