Over the past few weeks, a number of you have expressed a desire to know my relationship status. That number is zero, but I’m going to tell you anyway: currently I’m playing the field, which I define as letting Netflix and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream battle over my affections. I’m pretty happy with the way things are now; in fact, I’m using a date with both of them as an incentive to finish writing this post. I find they’re less demanding and infinitely less stressful than any alternative company could be.
Still, there are times when being single stings a little. For a lot of people, one of those times is Valentine’s Day. From early January until practically March, stores are covered in little red hearts and naked angels in diapers. Friends who are in relationships get disgustingly happy and gush to you about their plans for the Ides of February while you sip idly on your caramel macchiato and try not to look like you’re wondering what color to paint your nails next. ABC Family takes a break from its obsession with Harry Potter weekends and instead runs The Notebook on repeat for a week.
Of course, even with all the love in the air, being in a relationship around V-Day can sometimes feel like an arrow in the rear end. There’s SO much stress and pressure for everything about that day to be perfect for you and your sweetie, from the messages on the candy hearts (read: multicolored heart-shaped chalk) to the dinner to the outfits to the gifts (which of course MUST be either handmade or very, very expensive). Whether you’ve already paired off with someone or you’re still floating around in the world of “table for one, please”, you might think it would be easier and more pleasant for everyone if we just skipped straight from Thursday to Saturday next week and left it at that.
What do I think? Glad you asked: I think it’s silly to write off any excuse to celebrate. Maybe what we as a collective, frustrated, burned out culture should do about Valentine’s Day is just lower our expectations. Just take a deep breath and feel ‘em sink: your expectations for yourself, your expectations for your significant other (if you have one) and your expectations for the day overall. It won’t be perfect… but it can still be fun.
What is not sucking? Not sucking is defined in the world of celebrating Saint Valentine’s Day in the United States as having an overall positive 24 hours while letting the most important people in your life know that you love them.
1. If you’re in a relationship, do something special. Do something out of the norm for the two of you. If you normally hang out with Netflix and some popcorn in pajamas, dress up and go out somewhere fancy; if you’re party animals, stay in for a candlelit dinner and some snuggling. Breaking out of your usual mold will create memories and inject some novelty into your time together (which, as any married couple will tell you, is absolutely necessary in a healthy long-term relationship). If you and your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner aren’t exactly the “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird” type, don’t worry; there’s no Valentine’s Day higher authority that will punish you for going out rock climbing or hosting a two-person Sherlock marathon instead of filling your day with hearts and flowers. If you truly believe in your heart that Valentine’s Day was a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make money (which it wasn’t… look it up), then really surprise your sweetie by making special date plans on February 15th. Who could possibly see that coming?
2. If you’re not in a relationship… do something special. So you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner. So what?Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, and as much as romantic love is an important part of life, other kinds of love are just as essential, if not more so. If you’re doing Valentine’s Day solo, make some time for friends or family members. This applies to those of you in relationships, too; don’t get so far into the honeymoon bubble that you forget to remind the other people you interact with that you care about them. If all your friends are busy on Valentine’s Day, borrow from Leslie Knope and have brunch with them on the 13th or post an e-card on their Facebook page (best-friend sappiness optional). You can even show some love to your mom (and maybe win a prize!) by entering a fun little contest (NOT SPONSORED BY ME) here.
3. Don’t make it weird. American culture attaches a lot of expectations to February 14th: if you buy into the hype, it has to be romantic, it has to be sappy, and above all it has to run exactly according to the expectations of everyone involved. That’s why taking big steps like going out on a first date, making a relationship “official”, losing something important and self-defining (like your car keys!) or getting engaged on Valentine’s Day can get really awkward, really fast. One or both people involved might feel pressured to make a commitment they’re not ready for if they make the Big Decision on an emotionally loaded holiday. If you’re thinking about moving your relationship with somebody to the next level, do yourself a favor and either ask well before V-Day (read: TODAY) or just wait until February 20th. It’ll save you from discomfort, potential heartbreak and eye-roll-worthy cliché.
4. Relax. Remember what I said up there about cultural expectations? Yeah, they’re not real. Really. Yes, Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to get mushy and have fun, but it doesn’t need to be perfect. Forgetting to make reservations, giving your partner of two years a gift card because you ran out of time to make something nice, accidentally-on-purpose wearing heels so you’re four inches taller than your date (or, conversely, going on a date with someone who is wearing heels that make her look four inches taller than you)? All fine. All significantly less than world-ending. All stuff that you’re going to laugh about later on. Just enjoy yourself.
5. Eat some chocolate. You deserve it. But if you’re gonna go for the expensive stuff, wait til February 15th–it’ll all be on discount.
I gotta go now, readers–I’m late for my group date on the couch. I want to hear about your Valentine’s Day plans, though! Leave a comment below, stop by the Facebook page or tweet @hownottosuckblg. Have a great week!