I fucking HATE Valentine’s Day

So I realize that single people have the monopoly on hating this day. I get it. All that Bridget Jones-type angst about being alone on a day full of hearts and kisses? How loathsome  and pathetic, right? Um…no…

I am one of those people who is actually happier single. I really am. And this is perhaps not a nice thing to say – I do love my fiance with all of me and have no intention of leaving him – but I just do single better! I am GOOD at single. I do love ol’ Bridget (when her character is not being butchered by Renee Zellwhatsit) and she always makes me smile – but really? There is no stress in being single for me. None. But relationships? Mothing fucking god I swear relationships were created and then doubly blessed by Satan himself! And relationships are what make Valentine’s Day so bloody awful!

Let me tell you a secret about myself. I’m a complete romantic. But I’m a gun shy romantic. Yes – you will find snark and cynicism wherever I am, but really? I believe in ALL holidays. Even the dumb ones. Do I think that Valentine’s Day is a commercial load of hooey? Yes, of course I do! But I believe the same of  Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, St. Patricks Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving…. The list goes on… But the thing is – I believe all of these days should be celebrated. Because I believe in celebration and festivity. It breaks my heart that these things just feel like another thing to get through most of the time. As a kid Christmas used to excite me to no end. And it wasn’t about the gifts it was that buzz of family and extra special food and being together and laughing and being happy… But how long can the happy last when your grandfather seems to find everything so goddamn unpleasant and someone has upset your mother and no one gives a crap that it’s supposed to be fun? “Let’s make it special” quickly turns into “nothing is special”. And the nothing special runs through everything…

So the idea to celebrate Thanksgiving for your mom is quickly dismissed as an idea that won’t work. Mothers Day and Fathers Day are celebrated half-heartedly with gifts and flowers and a shared meal that feels no different to any other. Easter is celebrated mildly with a braai and a few eggs if you feel like you can afford them but the Easter Bunny doesn’t REALLY exist so who cares. Blah blah blah…

And then Valentine’s Day… When I’m single Valentine’s Day consists of a heart-shaped chocolate thrown at my dad and one of those pink heart-shaped suckers that I buy for myself because I actually like them. Plain. Simple. Don’t even really need to add vodka.

But when you’re in a relationship? Holy friggen hell. NOW what? Now you have to figure out how to balance this goddamn nightmare. Because one of three things is going to happen. One: you make too much effort and end up feeling like an absolute idiot for trying in the first place because your “Valentine” couldn’t be remotely bothered to so much as pick up a heart-shaped chocolate at the nearest drugstore and leave it on your pillow (a gesture which, by the way, I think perfectly acceptable and very much consider it “enough”). Two: Your partner makes a massive amount of effort making your gesture look completely thoughtless and stupid. You then feel guilty because your partner loves you more than you love them. Three: It balances perfectly and everything is hunky dory in love-love land. This almost never happens.

So what? The first year Ty and I were together on Valentine’s Day we had breakfast at our favourite place and then went and watched Valentine’s Day. Cheesy as hell but I loved it. It was cutesy and silly. I like cutesy and silly. Of course I was the one who made it happen, but if you kind of manage to make the whole thing look like a joint-effort to celebrate the silly hearts day then it’s easier to manage. I said, “Let’s have breakfast and watch Valentine’s Day to celebrate Valentine’s Day” and then no further effort or forethought was required. Of course I also bought him cheesy as all hell heart stuff for the kitchen because we had just decided to move in together. Oh and a jar full of heart-shaped chocolates. Who’s an idiot? Oh yes that would be me…

The second year I left a card in his bag because he went on a business trip and we were apart on Valentine’s Day. He spent the day watching the sun set over Table Mountain. I babysat the kids. But I put in all that effort last year. With the hearts and the goofy grins and the breakfast and the cutesy movie. OBVIOUSLY that is the kind of thing I might like right? OBVIOUSLY! I was 100% convinced he would do something to celebrate after he got back from his trip. He never did.

And this year? Well I just don’t friggen know. Because really – come on man! EVERY girl wants you to just THINK of her. I was sort of seeing this guy a while ago and our relationship was VERY young on Valentine’s day. I handed him a heart-shaped chocolate. It was seriously no big deal. Of course he was all “oh no I can’t believe you did that!” But hello? If it was Thanksgiving it would have been shaped as a turkey. Get over it… (she says cockily while she is nowhere near over Valentine’s Day herself…) Whatever happened to “It’s the thought that counts?” It’s Valentine’s day. I like/love you. Here’s a rose/chocolate/balloon just for you. No big deal. “I love you every day and I don’t need a specific day to show it…”

C.O.P. O.U.T.

My ex husband once gave me this long speech about how Valentine’s Day might be commercial but how you should always just show the person you love that you thought of them anyway because it’s not about you it’s about letting THEM know that you love them. I LOVED that speech. It made me excited and happy. I could not WAIT for Valentine’s Day. We were together for six years. Not once did I ever get anything for Valentine’s Day.  (Then of course the only person who ever did make an effort for me on Valentine’s Day got no effort from me in return – though in my defense I was pregnant, exhausted, emotionally unstable and had just spent the last of my money on his birthday present…)

A friend of mine is busy making crazy Valentine’s Day plans – and as I watch all of this I can’t help but wonder how she found the part of her that isn’t worried about it. I felt the same when she went nuts about Christmas. How do you find the dynamic that doesn’t make you feel stupid? Because even the slightest bit of unreturned effort can feel like such a slap in the face. How do you “bother” when you aren’t sure any “bother” is going to be made in return? My own personal demons perhaps, but I can’t be the only one who feels this way… surely?

So really – I far prefer to be single on Valentine’s Day. There is no stress. There is no quiet let down. There is no dashed hope of just maybe he will do something to make me smile… Because it doesn’t really count when you have to ask for it, does it? And the sad thing is? All it would take really is a heart shaped lollypop and a big smile and an “I love you…”

Because I’m sorry, but as crap as it might feel to be alone on Valentine’s Day, I do think it’s worse to be in a relationship where even a “Happy Valentine’s Day” is too much to ask. Because like my ex husband so wisely put it: It’s not about you. It’s about the person you’re with. And if they kinda like Valentine’s Day (or even if they say they don’t) you really should just put in that little bit of something… Because your lack of effort has a very big impact on how much effort someone else makes for you…

And let me tell you a big secret… The girl who spends more money on books than shoes? The one who prefers to cuddle up with a movie than get drunk at a pub? The girl who loves comfort food and beach walks and coffee shops?

She probably would prefer a single hand-picked daisy to a bunch of expensive roses.

She doesn’t need a giant box of imported chocolates because a cheap red tinfoil covered heart-shaped chocolate on her pillow is just cutesy enough.

She doesn’t need an expensive dinner out. She would probably prefer a take-out burger eaten on the beach at sunset. Or at the kitchen table with a candle.

Effort and expense are not the same thing. Fanciness will never impress so much as surprising her with a goofy little thing that caught her eye in a random store, or remembering that she loves to wear pink, or that polka dots make her happy, or getting her a pot plant because you know it makes her sad when the flowers in a vase die…

This year I have been told that Valentine’s Day is on me because it is a leap year. So…

Actually. Whatever.

I fucking hate Valentine’s Day.

 

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