Valentine's Day is looming; shop windows are dressed in pink, laced with hearts with fluffy 'I love you' teddy bears perched in the corners. Whether you're single or part of a loved-up twosome, Valentine's Day is an unavoidable.
Even though this is my first Valentine's Day in four years with the shameful single status hanging over my head, I'm sincerely looking forward to this one more than the last. The beauty of being single on Valentine's Day is not having to succumb to the expectations of anyone, or anything, else - a somewhat dangerous issue on Valentine's Day when you're in a relationship. You can never be quite sure how seriously your other half will buy into the commercial cliche, which declares that on this specific day of the year it is obligatory to shout your love for another from the tallest rooftop, as loud as you can so that as many people as possible hear.
Crushed Valentine's Day expectations are all it takes to break apart a relationship already showing cracks and I'm talking from experience. Last year's Valentine's Day was spent lingering by the post box, waiting for a token of affection from a long distance boyfriend which, of course, never materialised. I subsequently spend the remainder of the day crying and sulking due to the lack of effort on his part. To put our relationship into perspective, I had spent an hour the week before customising the perfect Moon Pig card that landed promptly on his doormat on 14 February. Unsurprisingly we split a month or so later after three years.
Valentine's Day for me was an eye opener - there is no wrong way to say I love you, aside from neglecting to say it altogether, especially on the day when you're socially compelled to do so.
But should there be this social pressure in the first place? No, definitely not. It's pre-Christian origins, involving nudity and whippings, have evolved to its present incarnation of hearts, flowers and chocolates, lending couples to a purely sanctimonious display of love.
You're probably aware that 42% of marriages end in divorce these days. Lets estimate that another 20% of the remaining married couples have underlying problems with their relationship - but are still in the deep, dark depths of denial - leaving a mere 38% to sit back and enjoy the Hallmark holiday with 'You are the Kate to my Wills' novelty cards filled with smoochy declarations of feelings, a candle lit dinner for two and if you're one of the really lucky ones, maybe even a diamond or two will be involved. The rest of us are left unquestionably gathering together our single friends, drinking a little too much alcohol, and claiming our undying love for the nearest man available. We loose all self-respect in the process whilst forgetting the obvious - all of the good ones are already taken on Valentine's Day. There are those of us who genuinely don't give a damn about our single status but are led to secretly questioning ourselves on Valentine's Day as to whether this implies our subconscious emotions are those of bitterness that we are consciously trying to repress.
Love is the most complex yet greatest emotion available to us; I won't describe it because firstly, I couldn't and secondly, I wouldn't want to. Love is subjective. There are no rules and no limits. Basically, there's no greater feeling - everyday that you're knees deep in true love should be a celebration, not just February 14th.
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