This might come as quite a shock, but I unabashedly adore Valentine’s Day. Loved up (currently) or single, it either provides the perfect opportunity to devote time to your significant other or it represents an entire day where one can bemoan love in a Germaine Greer-style torrent of Feminist abuse, aided by litres of gin and all your single friends. If all of your friends are coupled up, then Bridget, Ben and Jerry will happily step in. I reject any notions of ‘Valentine’s-Day-is-a-pointless-waste-of-time-because-if-you-really-loved-each-other-then-you-wouldn’t-need-a-day-to-show-it’ because, like Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, it is rare that we are able to show our appreciation to the extent that we would like to every day of the year, so putting one day aside is useful and convenient. Equally, it can be just as fun for singles.
But, and there was always going to be one, there is always one couple who take it too far. Nobody wants to see Facebook photos of you kissing under the Eiffel Tower and we all know you begged him to buy you flowers because guys don’t think of things like that for themselves. For some reason, such people feel like the world should share in their happiness. Note to them: sharing is never caring when it involves your life going stupendously superficially well. It’s these couples, the ones that feel the need to proclaim their love to the world, who should be forcibly restrained from buying Me to You bears and icing messages on Thornton’s chocolate hearts.
They’re the ones who received Valentine’s cards from the age of seven, and who ate Love Heart sweets thinking that every message was a snippet of Aristotelian genius. Then they found each other, and your newsfeed will inform you in a far less aggravated manner than I can as to the professions of undying love that inevitably followed. It would seem that sooner or later, one tires of one’s friend’s increasingly arduous love story, the fruits of which seem to divulge themselves in spectacular fashion on Valentine’s Day. And rest assured that it won’t just be you whose heart sinks when you see the photos of the two of them at the restaurant (booked two months in advance), for however in love you may be, let alone if you’re single, nobody wants to be subjected to a tirade of tasteless ostentatiousness and romantic paraphernalia.
I was once the lucky recipient of an A1 sized Valentine’s card. And, flattering as it was, to this day I have no idea what to do with the bloody thing, let alone the envelope. You don’t realise quite how intrusive a folded piece of A0.5 card is until the 15th, or maybe the 16th, of February. I thought about throwing it away, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, not least because I’m still with the guy (!) but because it made my younger self secretly chuffed. I loved it. But we grow up, we realise that there is (or should be) more to a relationship than gaudy gifts that reek of tack. My point is this: Huge tokens of love are fun, but we fail to remember that the extent of a lover’s devotion and the dimensions of the gift are not always proportional.
Fortunately for the rest of us, the brash and overwhelmingly underwhelming couples who still believe that we wish to partake in their rose-tinted sham are normally such exhibitionists because their relationship is very, very tenuous. So tenuous in fact, that they’re the ones who end up in an embarrassing game of ‘surreptitiously edit the Relationship Status’ a few months down the line. It’s not all fun and games when the rose petals have wilted and the human-sized teddy bear is the only thing keeping the other side of the bed warm. Nobody’s convinced that pink sequins and champagne sustain your love story. Ostentatious immodesty does not an infallible pairing make.
More often that not, the best ways to spend Valentine’s Day are cliché-free and downplayed. Think mutually enjoyable, unconventional and personal. Something somebody somewhere should really tell the ‘it’ couple. This is one of those times where less is unquestionably more. So singles, bask in your freedom and twosomes, be subtle. It’s the only way to ensure that harmony prevails.