Obligatory romance and codified heterosexuality: Why I hate Valentine’s Day

They call it ‘Cuffing Season’ – the period from early December to late February – as in, if you’re together, you stay the duration or you’re an asshole. Let’s not be coy: it’s as much about capitalism as it is the urge to have someone to snuggle during the cold months, beginning with the blow-out of holiday parties and mandatory gift-giving, and ending with the performative love-fest (and mandatory gift-giving) of Valentine’s Day.

Just as people with family issues struggle around the holidays, the marketing machine around Valentine’s Day seems designed to make anyone who is single feel like shit. Similarly, if you are coupled-up, social expectations and marketing put a price-tag on your affections and cannily mark up the romantic signifiers on your list. It’s expensive, cynical, heteronormative and flat-out boring.

It’s expensive, cynical, heteronormative and flat-out boring.

I don’t want someone to feel socially obligated to buy me a marked-up bouquet or to try to get into a restaurant staffed by overworked service professionals trying to juggle the demands and impossible expectations of several sittings of couples determined to have A Special Night. Cheaply-produced critters bearing red glitter hearts or diabetes-sized boxes of chocolates leave me cold with their mass-produced sentiment, and I don’t think I’m alone.

Let me preempt your ugly assumptions here: no, I’m not some bitter ‘singleton’ with a man-hating vagenda. I’ve been married over a decade and aside from the years that our relationship was long distance (when I sent him roses via Interflora), we’ve abstained from the whole Valentine’s Day thing — at my urging. Yes, even when we were sappy newlyweds.

We have an understanding, himself and I, regarding the whole romantic thing. Our #relationshipgoals are Gomez and Morticia, not Romeo and Juliet. Ongoing, mutually-supportive romance in a long term relationship over a dramatic flash-fire of excess. I prefer a €3 supermarket bouquet of daffodils bought randomly because he knows they’re my favourite flower over the €50+ arrangements with cross-eyed teddy bears, marked up because it’s the second week of February.  He likes the occasional single red-rose or packet of peanut butter cups I picked up because I was thinking about him, because it’s authentic and spontaneous.

Human emotions and connections are complicated, messy and very rarely linear in the sort of annual-event kind of way that Valentine’s Day relies upon. I suppose it’s important to remind ourselves sometimes to take a moment to honour the connections we have with our romantic partners, but if you need a Hallmark Holiday to remind you, you’re doing something wrong.

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