By Alex Cupples
I am not single, nor do I object if other people want to designate one day of the year to express their love through novelty gifts and cards containing mass printed sentiments. I was, however, more than content to be 150 miles away from my boyfriend on the 14th of February this year without the exchange of a card or presents.
Nauseatingly cute pictures of couples’ perfect pre Valentine’s Day weekends have already started appearing on my Facebook timeline and I am dreading the influx of instagrammed pictures of Michael Kors watches, flowers and plates of fancy restaurant food which will undoubtedly usurp all social networking sites on Friday. My cynical mind would argue that social networking has taken even more romance out of Valentine’s Day by turning it into a competition to advertise and promote your relationship… but that’s probably going too far.
Valentine’s Day is completely what you choose to make of it as it has no real historical meaning. St Valentine allegedly married, in secret, Christian soldiers who weren’t allowed to get married under the Roman Empire and Chaucer later associated the 14th of February, the day of St Valentine’s death, with the expression of romantic love. For this reason I can’t really argue against anyone who wishes to turn Valentine’s Day into a lavish exchange of gifts, cards and set menus. However, I would personally rather not be forced into showing my affections for just one day of the year.
One thing that really annoys me with Valentine’s Day is the pressure heaped upon boys to buy gifts and pay for fancy meals. I have always seen Valentine’s Day as being almost equivalent to ‘girlfriends’ day’. Despite the mutual exchange of gifts, there is always slightly more expected from the boy. I find it somewhat perverse when we are campaigning so hard for equal rights and equal pay that women expect more from men than they give in return.
And more worryingly, this is not just exclusive to Valentine’s Day. Many of my friends still believe that the boy should pay for dates and meals, something I think no longer has a place in our society if girls are to grow up feeling equal to their male counterparts. This is not to say that men should never pay for their girlfriends’ dates or buy them gifts but in an equal relationship this should be mutual, and designating one day a year for boys to give to girls does not promote an equal relationship.
On the subject of it being a day for girls, being single on Valentine’s Day seems to be a problem which affects girls negatively. I have never seen the point of wallowing in self pity on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps I speak out of turn, having a boyfriend and all that, but as young adults, is having a boyfriend really such an essential part of life that if you don’t have one you are forced into believing you are in some way a failure and that you should be dreading Valentine’s Day? After all, in many ways, if Valentine’s Day is the sort of thing that floats your boat, it’s an opportunity to plan a single night with friends as much as it is to plan a date night.
Valentine’s Day is superfluous to a relationship, there is no need celebrate a prescribed day to assure each other that you are happy together. The notion of sending or receiving a card on one day of the year which essentially assures you that you are both still attracted to each other is bizarre as it is something which, in a relationship, you should naturally presume to be true every other day of the year. To need to be told this in a card seems wrong.
To me, the 14th February holds no special meaning and as a result, may as well be any other day of the year. If the 14th February is just another day, you may argue that there is no reason why anyone shouldn’t do something romantic, but as shops and restaurants use this day to raise prices and squeeze money out of people who equate how much someone spends on them with how they feel about them, I would rather do something on any other day of the year than Valentine’s Day.