By Ellie Miles
This will be my second Valentine’s Day as a Durham student, and the second I’ll spend not in a relationship. As someone who is prolifically single, the time leading up to February 14th often involves what I like to refer to as the “pity parade”; a constant stream of my non-single friends making patronising “ahhhhh” noises and reassuring me that “Valentine’s Day isn’t really that big of a deal! You’ll be FIIIIIINE!”
They mean well, I’m sure; however, to be honest guys, I don’t need to be reminded that I’ll be fine. Despite what society (and the greetings card/last-minute-gift industry) tries to tell us, there are multitudinous reasons as to why there is absolutely nothing wrong with being alone on Valentine’s Day.
Firstly, it saves you a hell of a lot of money. All of the poor folks in relationships will inevitably spend the days leading up to Valentine’s scouting the shops of Durham for a gift for that special someone, which will almost certainly be extortionately priced; nobody wants to look cheap and uncaring, meaning Valentine’s gifts are usually at the crazy end of the ‘ridiculously overpriced products’ list. Add that to the price of an obligatory romantic meal out, and the bill just keeps mounting. At least we single pringles can console ourselves with the knowledge that the couples of the world are considerably out of pocket compared to us.
Also, THINK OF ALL THE FREE TIME WE SINGLE PEOPLE HAVE! Instead of spending ages stressing about getting Valentine’s Day just right, or worrying that your plans aren’t quite special enough, we single people enjoy a stress-free day of bliss. You can spend all day marathoning American TV shows on Netflix, and nobody can tell you not to; you can spend all of that money you’ve saved on an obscene amount of Ben and Jerry’s, and feel no guilt whatsoever; and you can generally defeat the weird societal assumption that it’s impossible to have fun by your self.
Amazingly enough, a person doesn’t need constant accompaniment to enjoy themselves; so don’t pity single people for being on their lonesome on this supposedly romantic and love-filled day. We’ll be doing just fine.
On a more serious note, one of the things that annoys me the most about Valentine’s Day is that it contributes to the idea that single people must be inherently miserable. Too many people assume that happiness can only come once you’ve found someone to share your life with, and that we should spend our time searching for our “other half”.
But have they ever considered that people are already a full whole, and that they don’t need someone else to ‘complete’ them? Or that we shouldn’t all wait around for that someone special to turn our lives around, and should get on with living on our own terms?
Yes, relationships can bring people a lot of joy- I’m not trying to suggest that we should all be lone wolves or hermits who shun relationships forever. However, maybe it shouldn’t matter as much whether we’re spoken for or not. Valentine’s Day tends to bring these kind of issues to a head, because it becomes more blatantly obvious who’s single and who’s not; I have some less-than-fond memories of walking down Saddler Street last year, the sole loner in a crowd of couples cemented together at the hand. But really, February 14th is just another day of the year; being alone for it doesn’t have to matter if you don’t want it to.
At the end of the day, the longest relationship you’re ever going to have is the one you have with yourself; so this Valentine’s Day, make sure to kick back, relax, and give yourself a pat on the back. Your relationship status doesn’t define you; it’s time people loved themselves, instead of waiting for somebody else to do it.
Photograph: Heather Weaver via Flickr