THE BLOG

Valentine's Day: Club 'Meh'

14/02/2014 12:57 GMT | Updated 15/04/2014 10:59 BST

This Valentine's Day I'll be in the pub with my friends, much like any other Friday night, and along with what, in honesty, is a sizeable chunk of the population (both single and attached), won't distinguish this red-ruffled evening from any other of the year.

I'm not knocking Valentine's Day. The more special occasions the better and, beyond the avalanche of uninspired marketing (look how much better olden days Valentines cards were), celebrating love is cute and nice.

But, for me, Valentine's Day highlights the supposed chasm between 'singles' and 'people in relationships of some sort' and along with this comes the temptation, to declare yourself joyously single or desperately happy and in love.

In reality though, both extremes are rare and, like millions of other single people, I will be neither howling tears and snot nor waving a banner for militant singledom this Valentine's Day.

Actually, there are days when I am militantly single. On these days I absolutely feel as though a serious relationship would get in the way of my dastardly plans. But there are also days when every time I leave the house I have my eyes peeled for a random encounter that could be the one. On those days, I quite honestly return from a five-minute foray to the corner shop disappointed in the hand of fate.

We live in a time when polarised, unwavering views are encouraged (see Katie Hopkins) but in the battle lines awkwardly drawn between 'singles' and couples, parents and the childfree, more than anywhere, ambivalence and doubt are the norm.

I have friends who are married, single, in relationships of varying types, single with kids, married with kids, married without children, in relationships without children and onwards. There are some whose situation is the result of unwavering planning, but very few. For most, these huge, life-defining situations are as much to do with fluke and fleeting circumstance as concrete conviction.

I'm right behind those who are sure enough about the world to decide adamantly what relationship and child-producing status is right for them. I have a special admiration for those who shrug off peer pressure and decide that life can be lived in a perfectly fulfilling manner without children or without a long-term, monogamous relationship.

It will be a happy day when words like spinster no longer exist and even the apparently neutral term 'single' is no longer loaded with connotations of being pre- or post- relationship, suggesting a limbo state in which we wait always for partnership.

But beyond the polarity of 'proud to be single' vs 'smug married' is more human uncertainty than any other sphere of life. People are unreliable and relationships a gamble, bodies don't work as required when babies are meticulously planned. Being single may be gloriously liberating one day, bleakly lonely the next. This is life.

So by all means, if you're single, be happy and proud this Valentine's Day. I will be! But, if you spend the next day back on OKC, don't feel conflicted. Static, black and white opinions make good entertainment, but human existence isn't run on a series of tick-box choices. Part of life's beauty, and its pain, is its sheer randomness.

Now I'm popping to the shop. Maybe I'll meet the one but, if not, I'll buy some biscuits and get on with those dastardly plans.