That time of year again. Men and women everywhere scramble for the perfect gift for that special someone, chocolates and flowers fly off the shelves. There are probably lonely single people cursing their luck. Valentine’s Day. No matter where you go, people everywhere react to the holiday in one of two very predictable ways. If you talk to anyone happy with their relationship status they often find the holiday enjoyable, a reason to go out and do something special with their significant other and show affection.
However, if you talk to many others they find Valentine’s Day unnecessary and often criticize couples for celebrating it. This split reaction to the holiday is quite ridiculous.
The Valentine’s Day culture of buying loved ones flowers and chocolate has been reinforced in us since childhood. But we have also been taught to find the holiday lame or pointless if we’re single. And this pattern repeats year after year.
People in relationships feel pressured to surprise their partners, and those who are single are compelled to object. But we should see past these expectations. All this negativity and stress is just stirred up every year by media and candy companies looking to drive profits, so why should anyone care? These forced expectations of affection and love aren’t good for anyone, they only create disdain for the holiday.
As much as Valentine’s Day can prove stressful to relationships, it serves as a good milestone, similar to bringing your paramour to meet your family or spending Christmas or Thanksgiving together. Being happy together on Valentine’s Day can affirm your relationship, as a part of a romantic world that celebrates the bond you share with someone else. This ritual landmark date is important social glue and helps relationships thrive.
Part of what drives the Valentine’s Day frenzy is the collective expectation that we should all be in a happy monogamous relationship, seemingly because everyone else is in one. The reality is that not everyone wants to be in a relationship and not everyone is ready for one, yet this expectation persists in a harmful way.
A counter Valentine’s Day culture has emerged, bent on denouncing the holiday. Those against Valentine’s Day claim the holiday is about consumerist spending. They are correct to some degree, but that doesn’t mean that Valentine’s Day should be treated exclusively as an evil corporate construct.
Feb. 14 should be a day about love and appreciation, to show people that you care, not necessarily through gifts and dinners, but maybe through some quality time together or simply telling someone how you feel, whether they be a significant other, friend or family member.
Your expectations about Valentine’s Day will probably define the experience. The important thing is don’t overthink it and let expectations ruin your day. If you have someone to spend it with, go have fun, be romantic and whatever. If you’re single don’t spoil anyone else’s fun — I hear that House of Cards season two premieres on Feb. 14 on Netflix. Whether you want to gather with friends, watch television by yourself or spend time alone with your partner, let’s just enjoy the day and not worry about what the world thinks we’re supposed to be doing.