Self-love, commercialism and enforced affection. OR: Valentine's Day from a #ForeverAlone perspective.
I’ve never really been one for Valentine’s day. To be fair, I’ve only actually been in a relationship during Valentine's Day once, when I was at university. I sent him a card and then he cried at me. Maybe that’s what put me off the whole thing.
Or maybe it was all those awkward teen moments when I’d send a girl a card anonymously and she’d either not say anything because she didn’t realise it was from me or, more likely, since I was a bit of a weird teenager, she realised and just never said anything, in the hope that I’d get the hint and leave her alone. Much the same way most of the attractive people on Grindr respond to my opening ‘hi, how’re you?’ message...
Actually, I did once get a card and chocolates on Valentine’s day, but that was in 1988, and I was five. I don’t think that counts, since I’m fairly certain her mother wrote the card. She didn’t even want to hold my hand because ‘boys were yucky’ which to be honest, is pretty accurate. I hope she held fast to that concept as she grew up.
So, even the one time I did get something for valentine’s day, it was a bit of a mixed message. Tasted nice, though.
Maybe being single for so long has left me a bit jaded as far as the commercial side of Valentine’s Day goes. I’ve never really liked the idea of an enforced day of telling someone how much you like having them around.
The whole idea is a bit strange, y’know… If you’re in a relationship with someone, shouldn’t they already know that you love them and care about them and all that? Shouldn’t they feel it from your actions and your words, instead of needing to wait for a particular random day to come around?
I’m not saying I don’t think you should tell them, you should say stuff like that whatever day of the year it is, not just on one stupid date. Life is short, we are all going to die. If you like someone, make it known, not just one day, but often. Every day. All of the days.
It’s not like I’d expect anything that day - For all of my teenage years, I’d wake up that morning, hopeful that I’d be the unsuspecting recipient of something small but sweet from some secret admirer, and never actually getting anything has kind of taken the shine off of the idea for me.
Still, at least I never got a card from my mum. That’s a whole new level of weird, I think. Mums who send their sons a valentine’s day card… I can see why they’d do it, it’s only a bit of fun and it makes them feel good but still…
Although if my mum did that every year, telling herself she’d stop as soon as I found someone to send me one for real, it would be getting a bit weird by now. I’m 34 and still single and my mother is still sending me stuff every year, but instead of it being a card from a secret admirer, it’s leaflets for Plenty Of Fish, or studies on how much harder it is to find someone the older you get…
In fact, I think the only thing that would be slightly worse than getting a Valentine’s Day card from my mum would be the year she finally stopped doing it. Like, even she has given this up as a bad idea. That first time where there’s nothing, not even a pity card would be harsh.
If I were dating someone, I’d assume that they liked me and weren’t just hanging around me for the occasional witty one-liner and mediocre sex. In fact, I’d specifically tell them not to buy me anything, because I’d just find a designated day of affection weird. Maybe years of bad dates have set the bar incredibly low, but as long as I’m not woken up with the words “Are you still here? I thought you’d have gone by now”, I’m pretty happy. And yes, someone did say that to me once.
Still, it’s probably better than the time I pulled a guy in Trash Palace on Valentine’s Day. He was really cute, and sweet, and we kissed in Trafalgar Square on the way back to mine, just after we’d agreed not to get too hung up on the date and just have a nice time together… Which was fine until the next morning when I found out that he’d been discussing with his bitchy skinny friend how I looked like Dawn French.
I say ‘found out’ - I looked at his phone while he was in the shower. Which I know is bad juju, and I probably got what I deserved, but he was texting his friend an awful lot while we were making out, and back in those days phones didn’t have a screenlock.
Yeah, the Official Day Of Affection thing… I don’t get it. Surely the point of being in a relationship is to single out one particular person (or more, if you’ve got the energy, I guess) and say YOU. I LIKE YOU. I WILL SHOW YOU THAT I LIKE YOU WITH MY WORDS AND GESTURES AND CONTINUING COMPANY. PLEASE BRACE YOURSELF FOR AN UNENDING TORRENT OF AFFECTION.
No presents. Screw presents. I was working in an office a few years ago, and there was a group of girls all talking about what their boyfriends were getting them for Valentine’s day. I asked what they were getting their boys in return, and was told “We don’t get them anything - they’re boys. They’re the ones who have to buy stuff.”
And let’s be clear here - if someone buys you things so that you’ll show them some affection, that’s prostitution. Everything else is just haggling. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a sex worker - I know a few people who do very well out of it - but at least be honest with yourself what you’re doing.
I tried to make this point to my colleagues, but it just ended up with me having to have a meeting with the HR. Again.
And maybe that’s the thing, here - being true to yourself. This Valentine’s Day, regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or not, but especially if you’re not, spend some time practising self-love. And I don’t mean the one-handed kind that I’m doing right now. Well, I do, but not JUST that.
You are the most important person in your life. And, like the great Ru Paul says, if you can’t love yourself, how can you love somebody else? So, treat yourself gently. We’re all a bit hard on ourselves at times. Y’know. Make Valentine’s Day a day for you to show yourself some affection, too.
Just for a day, don’t be too down on yourself. Just for a day, allow yourself to be exactly as you are, instead of beating yourself up for not being as perfect or as wonderful as someone else (who, incidentally, is just as fucked up as you are, but in different and interesting ways).
Spend some time that day doing something you love, without feeling bad about it. Indulge yourself - have a glass of wine in the bath. Hell, if it makes you feel good, have a bottle of wine in the bath. Go get a massage. Do something nice for yourself, and don’t feel guilty about it, or beat yourself or or worry about the cost… It’s time for you, and that’s important, because the relationship you have with yourself is at least as important as the one you have with anyone else, and a little self-love goes a long way.
And that’s the the point - do it from a place of self-love, do something for yourself because it will make you feel good about yourself, not because you feel you should. It could be something as gentle as finding some time for yourself to sit and read that book you’ve been meaning to, or watching that film that’s been on your Netflix list for the past year. Or even something completely different, like going to a cookery class, or wanking a stranger off in a public toilet. If it makes you feel good, give yourself permission to enjoy it, and don’t feel guilty about it otherwise.
So, this Valentine’s Day, and every day really, find time to love yourself. Because you’re awesome, and you deserve it.
Aaand we both know that you’re going to get drunk and text someone you shouldn’t, telling them how much you miss them. Which is also fine. Own that feeling, too. Just do your best to remember the difference between “I miss you and want you back, my life is meaningless without you” and “I miss you, but hey, that’s life, we’re both doing our own thing…”
Besides, you’ve seen him naked, so you can practise some self love while remembering that. You pretty much always ended up finishing yourself off anyway, right? Maybe that was just me…