There’s a persistent myth circulating this time of year that women and men each fall into two categories when faced with Valentine’s Day, which are contingent on their relationship status. Women in a relationship love Valentine’s Day because they feel good that they’re not “alone.” They expect their boyfriends to shower them with presents and flowers and take them to an expensive dinner, otherwise they get sulky and resentful.
Men in a relationship cater to their girlfriends’ every need, and appease their lust for possessions by spending a fortune on them, all the while resenting it. Meanwhile, single men lord it over their shackled buddies that they haven’t got a care in the world, that they’re rolling with dough and hooking up with “desperate chicks.” These “desperate” single girls spend Valentine’s Day crying themselves to sleep with pizza in their laps, watching “The Notebook” and wishing desperately for a boyfriend.
Excuse me while I barf.
Are these stereotypes still a thing in 2015? Apparently, if my responses to certain questions are any indication. Recently, a vague acquaintance asked me what I’m doing for Valentine’s Day, which, as a matter of fact, is working in a restaurant. I told him I’m not in a relationship this year and he replied, “Well, that’s depressing.” I’m sure he was just being polite and maybe marching out the stock response, but his reply made me wonder. Why do so many people automatically assume a single girl is depressed on Valentine’s Day?
I am a living, walking example of a single girl who gives no fucks about not having a date on Valentine’s Day. You won’t see me facedown in a tub of Rocky Road on the 14th, and if I cry watching “The Notebook,” it’s only because that movie is awesome as hell. And what’s more? Girls like me are the norm, not the exception, so stop perpetuating this idea that we all feel worthless if we’re not with a guy. It’s not true.
And guys? I know more guys who buy presents for their girlfriends on Valentine’s Day because they want to, rather than guys who feel harassed and obligated. I know more women who would rather a kiss and a single weed from their boyfriend instead of some tarnished Tiffany bauble. Why aren’t these stories being told? I know Valentine’s Day has become impossibly commercialized and overblown, but for me, it’s always been nothing more or less than a day devoted to celebrating love.
All kinds of love. When my sisters and I were kids, my mother got up early and set our places at the breakfast table with Hershey’s kisses and Ferrero Rochers. She wrote us each a card telling us “I love you” and frequently bought us a teddy bear or a toy of some kind. Through some twist of fate, I’ve never actually been in a relationship on Valentine’s Day and was only on one V-Day date in my life, but I love the true meaning of Valentine’s Day.
Love is all around me. It’s everywhere I go (if you’ll allow me the “Love Actually” reference). I see it in the actions of my older sisters cooking for their husbands, or having their husbands cook for them. I see it in the old couples holding hands while I serve their pink cocktails and glasses of red wine, or while they slow-dance to oldies. But I also see it throughout the year, when my brother-in-law sends my sister flowers for no reason, or when I go over their house and see them laughing inexplicably, happy to just be together. Why is being a witness to these things, rather than a participant, such a bad thing? Self-pity may be shelved for an evening in order to see real love enacted all around you.
Valentine’s Day, for me, is also about the possibility of love, and the capacity for love. Cynics say Hallmark began the holiday, and sentiments cite Saint Valentine, but regardless of the origins of the holiday, Valentine’s Day is what you make it. The pervasive hatred of Valentine’s Day in our culture and the way it may be used as a weapon are seriously problematic, but as a single girl, please stop telling me how depressed I’m supposed to be. You’re killing my buzz.
Now, excuse me while I drape myself in pink blankets and watch The Notebook.