Like birthdays and New Year’s, Valentine’s Day can make you feel a lot better or worse than you’re already feeling.
If you’re happily in love, Valentine’s encourages you and your lover to celebrate your joint bliss together. You might even secretly share a certain schadenfreude, if you happen to notice someone who’s alone. Seeing loneliness is a powerful reminder of how fortunate you are to have love. And on V-Day, you and your lover can shamelessly flaunt your happiness about being in love. The rest of the world — and its reaction to you — really doesn’t matter because you’re both ridiculously high on love crack.
But if you’re single, Valentine’s can take your emotions in very different directions. You might think about that person you should have been with on this day but for some tragedy, bad luck, or break-up. A prior V-Day that seemed infinitely happier may come to mind. You could reflect on that awkward but potentially romantic moment that you and someone else never explored, making you wonder what might have been. Or you might CELEBRATE the fact that you’re not stuck in some miserable relationship and forced to display a facade of joy for everyone.
If you’re single by choice, then you have one major dilemma (as with birthdays and New Year’s): WITH WHOM should you celebrate this occasion? You obviously don’t want to waste it on a first date. But what if your friends are all with their lovers and/or unavailable? Perhaps staying home is better than risking a bad first date on V-Day. But then you’re at home alone watching TV on Valentine’s Day, and that could be really depressing, unless Breaking Bad or Dexter is on, which might distract you for a bit. No easy answers. Maybe there’s a mobile app for that.
Now if you’re a guy, you’re dealing with various pressures and expenses that are entirely the fault of V-Day. More precisely, they’re the fault of the chocolate, greeting card, and flower businesses that depend on these pressures and have brainwashed women into thinking that if you don’t BUY SOMETHING for them on Valentine’s, then you don’t love them. This powerful brainwashing is akin to the kind used by the diamond industry (which has somehow convinced the world that if a man loves a woman, he will spend many thousands of dollars to buy her a diamond that she can show to her friends and family).
And even if you’re a guy who somehow found a woman who’s impervious to the brainwashing from billboards, magazines, pop culture, and social media, she will still have girlfriends who have been brainwashed. And so this exceedingly rare woman you found will probably be corrupted. Because there is one thing that you cannot avoid: she will communicate with her girlfriends, and they will compare notes. And that will be your downfall. So you need to budget for 2/14, or for several hours of quarreling that may or may not end with make-up sex. Best to plan ahead.
I’ve always wondered how chocolate became so important on V-Day. It’s actually a bit counter-intuitive on some level. I mean, I’m a total sucker for dark chocolate on any day of the year, but if Valentine’s is all about love, which normally involves sexual attraction, and excess chocolate tends to fatten people (which could make them less sexually attractive), then why are we encouraging chocolate on V-Day? I don’t get it. Maybe giving chocolate says: “I will love you even after making you fat.”
And what about flowers? OK, they smell nice. But then they shrivel up and die on you in a few days. What kind of love is that? Why not get plastic flowers that last forever? I guess they’d feel a bit fake and aren’t biodegradable, so nix that idea. Better plan: Bonsai trees. Those plants last a long time. True, they aren’t really fragrant, but which brain-washer decided that we need fragrance on V-Day? Can’t you just spray some perfume on the Bonsai and then you’ve solved that problem?
Zack Love is the author of the romantic comedy “Sex in the Title” and the much more serious contemporary romance “The Syrian Virgin.”