THE BLOG

Schmalentine's Day

04/02/2014 11:39 GMT | Updated 05/04/2014 10:59 BST

It seems that no sooner as Christmas is over and the January sales are dwindling that advertisers and shops start the campaign for people to spend their hard earned money in order to fully enjoy the next special occasion - St Valentine's Day - the day of enforced romance and my least favourite 'holiday'.

I know many people love this day of schmaltz where hearts are de rigueur but I am not a fan. Irrespective of my relationship status I have never liked Valentine's Day. Don't get me wrong I am a die hard romantic. In fact I am known for my excessive sentimentality which at times has proved to be my Achilles' heel.

However I can't think of anything less romantic than being told that there is a day every year where you must express your love and appreciation of your other half - to me this is the antithesis of love and romance. And then of course there is the manipulative commercialisation of such a precious emotion. It's safe to say that Valentine's Day to me is the bastardisation of love and romance.

However here it is upon us again - the day that many people whether single or attached, dread. If single, the Valentine's related paraphernalia being thrust in your face at every turn can make you feel like you are walking around with a banner on your head saying SINGLETON. If coupled up you can feel under a lot of pressure to engage in 'romantic' gestures to prove your love for your other half or cement the status of your relationship. It's no wonder that this day is such a nightmare for so many irrespective of their relationship status.

Below are a few tips for fellow Valentine's Day phobes to survive the day

1) The alternative V-day celebration: If you are single consider getting together with fellow singletons for either a night out on the town or a gathering at someone's home. On this day which highlights the fact that you are flying solo there is nothing better than being with people in similar situations to make you realise that you aren't alone. Plus you can use this gathering to check out who else is single and perhaps ready to do more than mingle. Either way I can guarantee you that you will probably be enjoying yourself more than most couples who feel forced to do something to celebrate V-day just because it is expected.

2) Greatest love of all - is the wo(man) in the mirror: This day is a great opportunity for some enforced self-love. The truth is there is no-one better to pamper you and no-one really knows you better or loves you more than you. You can do exactly as you please, spoil yourself and largely ignore the day if you so choose apart from perhaps indulging in a few heart shaped choccies.

3) Give love. If you don't feel like socialising and the prospect of spending Valentine's Day home alone makes you feel a bit down then spend your time spreading love in some way. Whether it is volunteering for a local charity or doing something kind for a lonely relative or neighbour you are giving to others which I personally feel we should all do on a regular basis irrespective of whether we are coupled up or not. By occupying yourself with the needs of others you are not only doing a good deed but also taking the focus off yourself and your status. Win, win.

4) Great expectations: If coupled up I think it is important to know what both of you expect on Valentine's Day. I will never forget feeling like the biggest love scrooge with one lovely boyfriend for whom I just bought a slightly tongue in cheek card Valentines card whereas he went the full V-day monty with roses, champagne and a surprise evening away. Somewhat shocked my initial reaction was to simultaneously eye roll and gag slightly at the prospect of a romantic dinner next to several other couples doing what couples should be expected to do to be romantic on this day. He was hurt. I was embarrassed. It wasn't that I didn't care, I did care about him very much but I just hadn't known it was of significance to him and he hadn't known that for me it was the least romantic day of the year. After the initial bad start the day ended well but the moral of the story is that you need to know each other's parameters so you can both respect and live up to them and there isn't a huge Valentine's Day misunderstanding.

5) True Romance: Even if you are a hardened V-day fanatic and love the opportunity for a day of hearts, roses and all things Valentines related keep your perspective on true romance. So if your partner doesn't go all out but still acknowledges the day do not then cast them as unromantic. Some of the most romantic moments can be in the smallest loving acts and words. They may be far from the grand gestures of what advertisers and corporations tell us is romantic -but remember they don't give a monkeys about your love life they are more interested in your wallet. Keep your perspective on true romance.

6) Keeping up with the Joneses and social media: There are so many people who love to detail every moment of their 'perfect' lives on social media. And on holidays or other special occasions these social media addicts can go into overdrive. Valentine's Day is often a day when (largely ladies let's be honest) seem to want to share/show off their love's romantic gestures. It's all a bit show pony esque for my liking....and I can't help but wonder how much more pleasure a lot of these oversharers get from sharing their gift or partner's gestures online and getting 'likes' and 'comments' as opposed to the pleasure from the gift or gesture itself - somewhat missing the point... Nonetheless it can be hard to not compare yourself with your online friends. Whether coupled up or single if you find yourself feeling a little off about this day then I think it is the opportune moment for a brief social media detox.

Happy Schmalentine's Day!