There’s officially one week left until what’s been consistently dubbed as one of the most (and often THE most hated) holidays in the United States: Valentine’s Day.
Now, I don’t think there has ever been wide-scale official research conducted on the subject, so the claim is a little shaky, but if you take a minute to google “the most hated holidays,” the chance of finding Valentine’s Day on the list (or even topping the list) is exponentially higher than most other major holidays.
I say that as someone who diligently took time to sift through the first ten pages of google search results. It’s no Statista-approved survey result, but I do think it shows the overall attitude toward the holiday.
The majority of people tend to dislike Valentine’s Day. And they even have some solid reasons to back that dislike up.
Why Do People Hate Valentine’s Day?
Hate is a visceral word, but if people were pressed to choose one holiday they hate, it seems Valentine’s Day would win. And it appears that the more openly practiced Valentine’s Day culture was at the place where people were growing up, the more chances of visceral dislike or hatred towards the holiday.
It is something I personally cannot fully empathize with. Growing up, I only knew Valentine’s Day was a day people (adults) with romantic partners would go on a date. It didn’t seem much different from birthdays or anniversaries.
But for people who grew up in a culture where giving Valentine’s Day gifts to schoolmates was a time-honored tradition, the holiday was warped into something more complicated (and often malicious): a competition.
How many Valentine’s Day chocolates do you get? How many love notes are stuffed into your locker? Do the classmates that have to exchange Valentine’s cards and candies with you like you, or were their hands forced by the teacher?
The older you get, the more Valentine’s Day tradition of exchanging sweet words and sweet treats starts to feel like an indicator of your social status, measurable data of your standing in society.
And it’s not even clear which type of Valentine’s celebrations cause more dread among teenagers: is it better when schools have an “official policy” regarding the holiday, with planned parties, thematic buffet (apparently, red velvet cupcakes and heart-shaped cookies are standard? As someone who never celebrated Valentine’s Day at school, all this seems so strange to me!), or when everyone is left to go with the flow.
In the first case, there’s always some distaste present when forced to participate in activities celebrating something you’re either excluded from (when single) or are obligated to be excited about (when partnered), regardless of your true feelings about the subject.
And some will say that teenagers are not an accurate sample group because teenagers often hate things for the principle of it. After all, it’s an emotionally testing and exhausting period in one’s life.
But hold your horses: apparently, adults hate Valentine’s Day with far more passion than most teenagers ever could. Yes, even the partnered ones, which the holiday is primarily considered to be for. And, if you dig a little deeper, it seems that most of them even have legitimate reasons for it! Here are some of the biggest ones:
- Valentine’s Day has become an obligation rather than an enjoyable occasion. If you’re partnered, it’s automatically assumed that you should participate in Valentine’s Day celebrations. You’re expected to exchange gifts, go on a date, and spend time with your partner. It doesn’t matter how you’re feeling about the entire thing. Even if you’re exhausted (Valentine’s is not a day you get off work, after all!), even if you and your partner are experiencing relationship problems, maybe neither of you want to participate - you can’t say it out loud, less you want people to assume something is wrong. Even if the only thing you want to do is crawl into bed and never come out. You’re obligated to put on a happy face and pretend like you’re having the time of your life.
- It feels like everyone and everything is screaming that you can’t be happy when single. If partnered people hate Valentine’s Day for being turned into an obligation they must participate in, less anyone starts questioning their relationship’s status. Single people hate how it opens the floodgates to everyone questioning their lifestyle. Not only do the decorations keep reminding them of their single status, but it’s another day that lets a snooping family member question their lifestyle. Those who prefer being single at the moment feel exhausted having to defend their choices, while for those who would prefer to be in a relationship, it’s just another (rather disheartening) reminder that they’re alone.
- It’s a race to keep up with the Joneses. Good luck finding reasonably priced flowers and thematic gift boxes. Seems like everyone has decided that strapping Valentine’s Day-characteristic red and pink ribbons on a thing means it now costs double and triple what it used to. It becomes especially burdensome if you and your partner have different attitudes toward Valentine’s Day. If your partner’s a romantic who loves Valentine’s celebrations, then skipping flowers, candies, and date night might end up breaking their heart.
- Damned if you do and damned if you don’t: someone will always judge. In this digital age, it always feels like you will get judged for whatever you do. And it seems like there’s no day that opens the floodgates as wide as Valentine’s Day. If you refuse to participate then you don’t love your partner, if you do participate, then you’re a fool who has fallen for corporate greed. You’re always doing too much or not doing enough. People love living vicariously through others, and they always, always give unasked attention.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
How to Enjoy Valentine’s Day as Someone in a Relationship:
It seems that a lot of disdain towards Valentine’s Day comes from what society dictates it should look like for couples.
If you love Valentine’s Day, then it seems like you’re in a bit of a privileged category: you’ve learned not to let other people ruin experiences for you.
But if you’re still getting there, here are a few ways you can make Valentine’s Day into something to enjoy rather than dread.
Stop Looking at it As an Obligation
First and foremost: have an honest conversation with your partner. It’s supposed to be a day that celebrates your relationship. You shouldn’t need to act out the ad for a perfect romantic partnership. If you don’t want to celebrate, be honest and open about it with your partner. And if they’re someone who loves Valentine’s Day and does want to celebrate, then look for a compromise instead of planning something that will make one of you miserable.
(On the flip note, maybe you’re the one who loves celebrating Valentine’s Day, and they’re the one who dislikes the holiday. Meeting each other in the middle will always make for the best experience.)
Plan Something YOU Will Enjoy
Maybe going to the restaurant for a grand romantic dinner doesn’t seem like the most appealing idea. Then plan a small intimate dinner at home.
Maybe you’d prefer spending the day away from the crowds with just the two of you (without all the Valentine’s Day ads getting into your face every couple of steps), then plan for something away from the city - maybe a hike or a picnic.
Or maybe you’d like to have the grandest time of your life with all the cliches of the day ticked off from the list - then that’s something you should do without letting anyone shame you for it.
Make it a Holiday (if You Can)
It’s not something everyone can afford to do, but if you have the privilege: take the day off work. Many find having to plan for celebrations after work draining, which often dampens the mood. It’s far too likely that you’ll be treating the date night as an exhausting obligation rather than a special occasion to enjoy with a beloved partner if you’ve had to sit through nine hours’ worth of excel files first.
Or, if you can’t take the day off, just “postpone” the celebrations to the weekend and call it a day. Better to celebrate a few days later and enjoy it than celebrate it on the 14th on the dot and hate every moment, no?
Choose a Unique Gift (for Yourself Too)
Forget the flowers (overpriced anyway), jewelry (there are other occasions), and Valentine’s day chocolates (...okay, maybe not this one. We’re all foodies here; we all love chocolates!).
Make Valentines Day a day for unique gifts.
Maybe swap the chocolates for Marron Glaces, macaroons, or a big tub of Nutella (with a red bow), and the flowers and jewelry for something useless they’ll enjoy but would never spend money on themselves.
And don’t forget that you’re worth celebrating too. Get that box of expensive chocolates you’ve wanted to try for a while now.
Eat All the Sweets You Want
In fact, make Valentine’s Day guilt-free, and enjoy all the sweets we want day. Maybe Valentine’s day chocolates are a marketing strategy trick; who cares? As long as they’re tasty, and you’re enjoying them with your favorite cup of tea or coffee, why not just enjoy them?
In the end, Valentine’s Day is a day that’s supposed to be happy and spent with someone you love to celebrate your relationship. And is the dessert not what makes celebrations so enjoyable?
Besides, it’s scientifically proven that chocolate increases dopamine levels. Consider Valentine’s Day a special day to boost your dopamine levels and your pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation levels with it.
How to Enjoy Valentine’s Day as Someone Single:
If truly enjoying Valentine’s Day seems like a struggle even for whom the Valentine’s Day is for, then enjoying it as someone single often feels outright impossible.
But it shouldn’t be. At its core, Valentine’s Day is a holiday that’s supposed to celebrate love. And celebrating love should be something everyone enjoys - even those who aren’t currently in love and don’t intend to fall anytime soon.
Plan in Advance to Avoid Those YOU KNOW Will Annoy You Today
If there’s one thing that makes all single people DREAD Valentine’s Day, it’s the knowledge that there will be at least one annoying relative, friend, or acquaintance asking about your relationship status.
Don’t let them.
Actively avoid their calls and don’t open their messages; in fact, either outright cut social media out for a day or use it very modestly, carefully curating who you’ll be in touch with.
If nothing else, it’s going to be a good internet detox.
Take Yourself on a Date
Being alone is no reason not to celebrate. Book a table at your favorite restaurant, order your favorite Valentine’s Day chocolates, get a ticket to the movies, etc.
The truth of the matter is while having a romantic dinner, watching a movie, and munching on chocolates together with your romantic partner does sound nice, there’s no reason you cannot enjoy any of these (or other activities branded as “romantic”) on your own.
If the idea of having dinner at a good restaurant sounds good, but you’ve been avoiding it for whatever reason, well, make Valentine’s Day the motivation to do it instead.
Give Yourself Gifts
If the idea of being alone surrounded by couples on dates bothers you (it shouldn’t, but your comfort is the most important thing when planning these activities!), then treat yourself a little in other ways.
Get yourself that funny coffee mug you’ve been wanting or fuzzy socks, or just order the good pizza from the local Italian place. It doesn’t have to be big; it just has to be something that makes the day feel special.
Use the occasion to spoil yourself.
Schedule a Friend-Date
Who says you need to be partnered to celebrate with a person you love? It’s true that Valentine’s Day is a day primarily dedicated to romantic love, but it’s not like skipping the “romantic” part is a punishable crime.
Suppose you don’t want to be alone on Valentine’s Day; rope another of your single friends into the plan and celebrate with them! You love them, and they love you, so why not celebrate that love? The platonic love we hold for our friends is in no way, shape, or form less than the romantic love we have for our partners. If you use the extra occasion to celebrate it, who’s going to judge you?
Go with the Flow and Enjoy the Better Parts of the Valentine’s Day Craze
It’s the thematic desserts, special dinners, and other activities that only rear heads during Valentine’s season that deserve your attention. If you’ve always wanted the experience but never did because of your single status - now’s the time to change that.
And if some establishments only allow couples, that’s what friends are for. Who’s going to demand you prove your partnership status? Just go along with the craze and enjoy it!
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