Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – or as I prefer to call it V Day. V for Vile, Venereal and Venal. V Day makes us all feel inadequate, whether we are married, single, young, old, gay or straight. OK that is probably a generalisation as there probably are some people out there who love it. I just don’t know them.
I think I first became aware of V Day as a teenager and it made me feel bad as I was a rather odd teenager and not the sort of person who would be bombarded with flowers or chocolates or cards or whatever else you are supposed to be bombarded with. I grew into the sort of adult who – wait for it – was not the sort of person V Day is designed for and funnily enough, this still applies today.
I am currently single – I have been separated for three years – but it is fair to say that I possibly dreaded V Day even more when I was part of a couple. The grim evenings spent in restaurants with other couples, all in varying states of misery. Then the feeling that the gift you got was not really all that – in other words the gnawing disappointment that probably reflected the gnawing disappointment you felt about the relationship and your inability to communicate what it was that you really wanted. It is very easy to blame someone else for not living up to your expectations, but it is their fault if your expectations are maybe unrealistic or poorly expressed? How many of us are actually that good at saying what we want from other people?
I spent most of my adult life in relationships. I had good times and bad times too. I think this is normal. I sometimes wish I was in one now – sometimes. I think it has been the making of me to be on my own for a bit – not that I ever really feel alone. For a start I live with three kids and for much of the day I am at work in a college that teems with thousands of people. I spend most of my free time talking to people on social media – yes I am an addict – and I also make sure I have regular nights out with my many weird and wonderful friends. When I feel down (or hormonal) I wish there was someone there beside me, but a lot of the time I don’t. I sometimes ask myself if I am in denial – have I become one of those women who screams ‘I’M HAPPY BEING SINGLE’ whilst secretly dying inside? I don’t think I have but maybe I am just wrapping myself in layers of self deception. Or maybe I genuinely like to have a level of independence? It varies from day to day.
I guess my real hatred of V Day comes from the fact that it imposes a dictatorship of enforced coupledom on all of us. If you are not in a couple or desperate to be in one then you must be some sort of sociopath. I also dislike the way it takes the idea of love – a wonderful thing that encompasses feelings experienced by lovers, parents, friends, carers and comrades – and straight jackets it into this prescriptive thing. The only love that matters is the love you feel for a person that you want to share your life, bed and bank account with. Especially your bank account. V Day is the ultimate example of the commodifcation of emotion, turning sexual desire – something that is messy and wild and disruptive, into something that can be packaged up and sold in neat and tidy units. Which is maybe why V-Day seems so popular with supermarkets; how depressing to think that your most intimate feelings can be bought and sold in Morrison’s or M&S. Depending of course on your income level and social class.
Tomorrow, my friend Alasdair and I will be having an anti V Day. We are just going to hang out, eat food, listen to music and maybe watch a peculiar movie. Another friend may join us too. You can laugh if you like – maybe I am a total cliche of tragic singledom? Maybe you are one of the people who actually likes V Day and if so, have a lovely time.