Valentine’s Day is this weekend, and once again I’m reminded how irrelevant the occasion is to anyone who’s actually in love. Aside from kids and their handmade cards, Valentine’s Day is really just for the lonely, sad, and insecure. Think about it. When was the last time you heard anyone who was happily coupled up express anything remotely resembling excitement over the big day? More likely, they don’t express any thoughts about it at all. Because happily coupled up people don’t think about Valentine’s Day. And why should they? If couples are doing it right, they don’t need to wait for some manufactured Hallmark occasion to celebrate their love. On the other hand, sad, lonely, insecure people eat up Valentine’s Day. They think about it for weeks and moan about it to anyone who will listen. They complain about being single, whine about being recently dumped, and fret over the sad state of their failing relationships. Why? Because Valentine’s Day, more than any other day of the year, is an excuse to throw a big pity party and bond with other equally depressed people. Those who are insecure about the state of their relationships are probably the biggest offenders. They pin high hopes on Valentine’s Day, seeing it as a last-chance opportunity for their significant others to prove their love once and for all — in the form of chocolates, a fancy dinner reservation, maybe even a surprise engagement. If their hopes are dashed, Valentine’s Day is the nail in the coffin, the deciding factor in the death of a relationship.
It’s only been in recent years that I’ve made peace with Valentine’s Day. Before I met my significant other, I suffered through my own series of lonely relationships and sad, single days. Even when I was happily single, Valentine’s Day seemed to indicate I had no right to feel good about myself and my life if I wasn’t coupled up. Assaulted by endless streams of jewelry commercials, lingerie ads in store windows, and red cellophane-packaged chocolates in drug stores, I drowned my Valentine’s sorrows with anyone who would lend me an ear and a shoulder to cry on. Usually, this meant other lonely people, and together we’d hold fast and brave the occasion, assuring each other that next year would be better, next year we’d be in love.
When I did finally fall in love — like, real love, the kind I could depend on, the kind that survived bumpy roads and smooth sailing alike — a funny thing happened. I didn’t notice Valentine’s Day so much anymore. It wasn’t that I was relieved I could celebrate it properly, it’s that I didn’t need to celebrate it at all. For my boyfriend and me, the anniversary of our first date was — and continues to be — much more special than February 14, an arbitrary date that lacks any significant meaning for us. Maybe it’s because we do little things for each other all the time and make celebrating our relationship a regular routine. When Valentine’s Day rolls around once a year, we don’t feel like it’s our big chance to express our feelings. Other happy couples I know echo this sentiment. For them, Valentine’s Day barely registers on their mental radar, and if weren’t for the onslaught of daily reminders in the form of aggressive advertising, they may even forget it altogether. Then again, their lonely friends would make sure never to let that happen.