"You only hate Valentine's Day because you're single and alone," people tell me.
"It's nothing to do with that. If I want to spend 14 February lacing Thorntons' entire stock with laxatives and making vomiting noises at anyone who looks vaguely happy, that's my prerogative," I tell them.
I jest. I hope that your heart-shaped selection box doesn't give you the runs. I hope that this weekend you and your loved one collaborate on a magnum opus of love poetry that would put literary greats like John Keats and Mick Hucknall to shame. But, really, don't you think it's time we stopped enabling Valentine's Day?
The merest mutter of disdain for Valentine's Day is always met with a retort of "yes, we all KNOW it's just a big capitalist festival of card sending and Paris mini-break shagging and ugly teddy bear purchasing. We all KNOW that. Jeez. Chill out. Just put the bouquet of roses down. You're scaring me."
So then why do we insist in propping up this annual ritual of sending a card to someone you love to remind them you love them/that you're still alive? There's nothing less romantic than an enforced gesture performed out of sweaty desperation because you've been bombarded by marketing emails from companies you never knew you signed up to telling you to GIVE US LOADS OF MONEY TO PROVE YOU LOVE SOMEONE AND ARE CAPABLE OF FEELING HUMAN EMOTIONS AND THEN MAYBE YOU WON'T DIE ALONE. The last time I paid money to prove I was capable of feeling human emotions I ended up in the cinema watching a Richard Curtis film and rolling around in my own tears. It was a degrading experience.
But it's not just that Valentine's Day is now synonymous with evil men in suits having pound signs ping up over their retinas. It's also that it often feels like a damagingly oppressive reinforcement of the idea that your happiness is dependent on having another person complete you. Romantic relationships are brilliant, dizzying, hilarious and joyful things, that have the power to make us feel like we're constantly walking around with Billy Ocean playing in the background and we could break out into an expertly choreographed dance routine at any moment. But, if you buy into the idea of love sold by card manufacturers, Hollywood and Celine Dion, these relationships can also be bleak, infuriating, and cumbersome.
Valentine's Day has become a marketing triumph, with sinister consequences. This isn't about saying that you should be alone forever so that when you die your body is found seventy years later by the National Trust and put in a stately home next to one of Winston Churchill's paintings. It's also not about taking to the streets with a placard that says 'VALENTINE'S DAY NOT IN MY NAME' and brandishing a sniper rifle to assassinate any floating baby cherubs.
But we shouldn't participate in ideas about love that tell us our relationships will only succeed if we stop regarding ourselves as individuals with autonomy, ambitions and passion. We need to find new ways to think about love that don't imply that placing the burden on one single person to provide your life-long supply of happiness is in any way realistic.
Obviously, if you've booked that Paris mini break and you've got all the johnnies and the chocolate and the travel insurance, you should probably still go. But let that be your last time. Tell someone you love them any day of the week, in any language, in Morse code, or to the theme song of Countryfile. Whatever you want. Just stop all this Valentine's madness.