How To: Valentine's Day

How To: Valentine's Day

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who’s like “Omg I fucking love Valentine’s Day!”

Pretty much everyone has the same reaction around this time of year when the ads start trickling into your inbox, popping up on your feed, and the same old cornucopia of commercialised love junk spills off the shelves at the grocery store. Valentine's Day has hit the airwaves! Cue the diamonds! Cue the roses! Cue the chubby baby angels! Wrap ‘em all up in silk and dip ‘em in chocolate! Serve ‘em on a platter on a bed of billowing silk… because that’s what you do when “love is in the air” right?

Most will argue that VDay was designed to make single women feel bad about themselves and their lives simply because society has deemed it pathetic. “Hey little lady, fuck a job why don’t you go get a husband?”

While I tend to agree – with both the first general sentiment that VDay is just the worst, and the second that it nags at the insecurities of single people by design – I would posit that VDay is pretty dang problematic for those who are in relationships as well by imposing this sense of obligation to prove your love. 

It invokes a sense of competition – against whom I do not know – perhaps within ourselves, to strive for standards that don’t necessarily align with our individual values. To win some sort of acknowledgement and achieve some idealized reputation as the perfect partner we do what we think we’re supposed to which rarely works with matters of the heart.

I have a positive spin on it and advice for every stage of a relationship below, but first things first let’s call it like it is real quick. Let’s all get on the same page and hate on VDay for a sec:

Haters repeat after me, Lovers keep scrolling…

  • VDay inspires the toxic notion that you must be able to read your partner’s mind! 
  • Encouraging a checks and balances approach to calculating the trueness of your love by how much money you spend and how extravagant of a date you plan.
  • This imposes standards that don’t necessarily align with your values and love languages : some people are gift-givers by nature, some require that from a partner, and some don’t. It’s all a matter of knowing your needs and the needs of your partners when it comes to giving and receiving love. 
  • It shouldn’t be about doing it a certain way because that’s how others are doing it. It doesn’t have to look the same way the hyper-idealized commercials make it look in order to be valid.

  • VDay is part of the hallmark-patriarchal agenda!
  • I mean... definitely, but also not totally. The commercials, decorations, and focus on “couples” and what “couples” do to express their love - let alone what a couple looks like - is all through this hetero-norm-monogamous-lens that is part of our culture. We’re getting there, slowly but surely, with marriage equality and every baby-step towards a more inclusive world IRL, but the structures of society especially those portrayed in the media take awhile to catch up… That being said, the VDay hoopla does totally imply that all this crap is for the Dude to do unto the Lady, and I find this aspect of VDay to be pretty misogynistic, which inherently translates to homo-phobia, trans-phobia, poly-phobia etc. 
  • And this goes way back to the invention of marriage which essentially is a business deal at its root: Lady gets her survival needs met with the provision of shelter and security and Dude gets to put his dick inside her to produce heirs. Hark! The birth of gender roles!
  • So if you really wanna get to the nitty gritty I think the engrained hetero-norm misogyny of VDay is this toxic perspective we’ve adopted where we limit ourselves with expectations of what the perfect partner is supposed to do, what the perfect relationship is supposed to look like - without ever checking in with ourselves if that’s even what we want in the first place.

  • I think we can all agree that Valentine’s Day is laden with toxic implications that encourage unfortunate behaviors no matter what. But I would posit that it - like everything - does or at least has the potential to serve a purpose. 

    Hear me out!

    It’s all about perspective.

    If we accept the first two grievances above - that’s just how it is portrayed and promoted and relentlessly forced down our throats -  but that’s not what the holiday is about at its core. 

    If VDay is about celebrating the romantic & intimate side of Love and if we can get over how wrong they got it in the commercials - just on aesthetic and visuals alone not to mention intention and values - we can find some room to actually celebrate the romantic & intimate side of Love because at the end of the day we all have at least a little piece of us that agrees 

    “Love is a many splendid thing, Love lifts us up where we belong, All you need is Love!”

    Don’t let the man ruin it for you. Your love life, romance, partnership, or singledom can look however you want it to look, as long as there’s integrity and compassion - and please remember to do no harm and blah blah duh.

    So below I have provided my unsolicited advice for each stage of a relationship to navigate this holiday because you can’t just ignore it.

    How to Navigate Valentines Day:

    1. Openly Talk about
    • and that it includes hating on it! If that’s really how you feel just talk about it. Even if that isn’t how you feel, just. fucking. talk. about. it! Call out the elephant in the room puh-lease! You can’t ignore it, avoid it, back out of the room quietly until Feb. 15th. Good thing we already hated on it above so we can move on!
    2. Everything is an opportunity
    • You might feel like running for the hills but unless you actually live under a rock alone totally isolated from society - 
    • A. you woulnd’t have wifi so HA! Busted! 
    • B. you can’t not hear or see or somehow be constantly reminded that Valentine’s Day is approaching. 
    • Take this as an opportunity to realistically evaluate your love life. Why not, right? 
    • Are you where you want to be? Is anything out of balance or unstable? Are there adjustments you or your partners - if you got ‘em - can make to even things out 
    • We must tend to love, celebrating love is not just about spoiling our partners rotten - that can be fun  for sure - but sometimes a celebration of love is having those difficult conversations that if left unspoken will degrade the foundation that keeps the integrity of the whole thing intact. 
    • Pro-Tip: usually the thing you have the biggest issue with is connected to some deeper insecurity or desire for things to be different than they are. Listen to your heart, and the heart of any partners you have, and take the opportunity to declutter and organize your needs, wants, etc etc you get it.
    3. Actually Celebrate Love
    • Plan something together. Make it something you do so as to make the best of the fact that it will be all around you. Ignoring it is the worst thing you can do - unless y’all had a convo about how day-of you’re gonna just ignore it but you know what I mean. This will look different depending on what stage of a relationship you’re in 
    • You’ve called out the elephant in the room, you’ve acknowledged your current situation honestly, so now you can decide how you will navigate the week of VDay - whether that’s hating on it together by boycotting it and traveling elsewhere, or playing along and going all out like you’ve never done before. 
    • At the end of the day the ultimate #couplesgoals is to be a #team and the ultimate #singleswag is a positive attitude, right?

    Unsolicited Advice for Every Stage of a Relationship:

    Newly Single| not wanting to date or still mourning a heartbreak:

    • Plan a friend’s night out, staycation, or spa day. 
    • You might be totally rock solid in being single af so maybe you romance yourself and celebrate the all-time number one necessity of self-love! But remember that if we surround ourselves with friends - especially those in the same boat - we can enjoy the opportunity to be lifted up and experience joy when we engage with other simply through the nature of being social creatures.

    Single| mingling, tindering, and otherwise navigating the dating scene

    • Dating sucks. Especially when living in these times of the dating app
    • We use platforms that mimic social media wherein people try to present themselves in a favorable light for the chance to be matched with other singles apparently also wanting interactions of sexual or romantic nature but in reality are also mis-representing themselves by saying one thing and actually wanting another.
    • Again, we’re just doing and saying things to mask ourselves in ways that we think we’re supposed to instead of authenticity and true self awareness.
    • When it comes to sex we don’t know how to talk about it, we don’t know how to ask for what we want, and most people - believe it or not - don’t totally know what they want. We’re scared to explore our desires for fear that what we truly want in love or lust might deem us an unworthy deviant doomed to die alone.

    My Advice for the single af minglers out there: 

    1. Turn off the dating apps for January and February. Everyone is already having a hard time trying to navigate the treacherous landscape. The added pressure of VDay can and will find a way to taint any new encounters with a potential hookup, fling, or love interest. Unless you acknowledge the weird, awkward elephant there is no way a fresh, undefined canoodle will survive the creeping in of these toxic, negative thought patterns we discussed above. Putting blinders on and pretending that it won’t affect you will only delay the inevitable - that it totally actually will affect you - and cause even more self-doubt and need for validation.

    2. Rewrite your bio:

    • Take this time to reflect on your current situation, your last relationship, and what do you value, want, miss about being in a relationship. 
    • What do you want to do differently than you’ve done before? 
    • What do you want a possible future relationship to look like?
    • Take this time to evaluate your truth and rewrite your dating app bio to reflect your intentions, put yourself out there as an ideal partner for your ideal partner, and manifest that shit! Basically, write about yourself like you believe you deserve to be loved the way you want to be
    3. If you’ve hooked up a few times: Chances are you’re taking the avoidance highway. Stop it. Pull off and send a text or somehow acknowledge it with something playful or humorous that reflects your general attitude about the holiday. 
    • Remember, we are all humans and humans have feelings and feelings are weird. 
    • Remember, you don’t know what the other person wants - or is thinking - unless you ask or give them the opportunity to tell you. 
    • And this one is mainly for the straight dudes: just because the commercials are telling you she wants a bed of roses, a wedding ring, and three kids by next year doesn’t mean she actually does. 
    • Don’t try to read the other person’s mind, be aware of what outside influences might be pressuring you and nagging at your own insecurities, unhealed feels, and values, and just fucking talk about it.
    4. If it’s only been a few weeks (i.e. y’all hooked up around new years) and you’re exclusive but not together or whatever other grey area scenario you’ve found yourself in because you’re playing chicken with the inevitable “what are we convo”: 
    • Get ahead of it! Point it out the next time you see an ad or when you bump the pink heart boxes cluttering the checkout lane. Valentine’s is weird. But we don’t have to make it weird or difficult. 
    • Remember, hating on it together can also be romantic! 
    • VDay doesn’t have to be a big deal but it will become a thing if you ignore it and then get in your heads about it and jump to conclusions and get all project-y... 
    • Talk to each other! Use your words. 
    • If you hate VDay and want nothing to do with it, voice that beforehand. 
    • If you do want something out of VDay that’s ok too! Voice that beforehand!
    • What else are we doing by dating if not exploring the possibility of an intimate relationship which is fun and beneficial in a lot of ways. So even just noticing that no matter how new a fling is doesn’t mean you have to pretend you’re not enjoying it until it becomes official! 

    5. It’s Official: For long-term partnerships VDay can be extremely daunting. If you haven’t already established your unique approach and tailored a VDay tradition to get you and your relationship through the weeks of February fully intact here’s my advice to help shift your perspective: 
    • For long-term committed relationships VDay can act as a “Thanks for enduring the harsh winter with me!” 
    • I would argue that Feb. 14th was not designated as Thee day to celebrate Love because “love is in the air”
    • In fact, I would argue, that in January and February love is so not in the air that it might have been out of necessity that the man made up this sordid holiday precisely to impose a reminder to those in relationships that winter is almost over and our partners were there with us through the holidays - super stressful family drama - and through the coldest nights of the year, so you know maybe say thanks or something. 
    • It is no secret that from November till about May or June we are by design rundown, depleted, dealing with transitions or traumas and it all comes up to the surface because the holidays just sorta do that but also it’s cold af and we’re expected to operate the same ways we do all year. 
    • So maybe Feb 14th is a day to remind us to take our cold, sad little heads out of our asses and express gratitude for our partners and those we love who have been there with us through the not so pretty, not so romantic, not so rose colored days of winter.

    Pro-tip: If VDay is too femme for you try celebrating Steak and a BJ night on Feb. 15th

  • Leave a comment