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Friday, 8 February 2013

Things which bother me: Hating Valentine's Day

February 14th, commonly known as Valentine's Day, is almost here and as it approaches, the two classic extremes of sentiment accompany it: love and bitterness. On a day commonly held to be a celebration of love, or possibly the love of buying Hallmark cards, Valentine's Day, like a snow day, brings a chill to the hearts of many.

I have problems with the extreme bitterness surrounding this day and I would like to share my thoughts. Now, before we get too far, rest assured that I know the true meaning of Valentine's Day, its origins, traditions, and reasons for being. I also am more than aware of the vast consumerism which takes place year after year in the name of love, and the pressure which comes with it.

However, I still have problems with people's bitterness over it. For many, the problem they have with February 14th is either that they hate the capitalistic associations (as in the apparent need to go out and buy things for people) and/or the pressure put on people do take part in said tradition.

The attitude of consumerism which comes with Valentine's Day is unfortunate and is one which really causes people to forget and hate holidays like Christmas, Easter, and probably many other days of celebration or worship from other backgrounds/cultures. The idea that we have to go out and do anything is an incredibly frustrating one. So, on a day which traditionally only has meaning to one specific group, those who are celebrating the sainthood of a few men named Valentine, it is difficult to be excited or even neutral about it when we are constantly bombarded with songs, store-front displays, pressure and paraphernalia.

The second half of this pressure is that people are either bitter about being single on this day, or that people are bitter that they are "forced" to take part in it if they are, in fact, in a relationship. I think all of these complaints are silly, but I am one of the special few.

First, let's deal with consumerism and societal pressure. I don't know what it is about me, but I really have a hard time being told what to do. Perhaps it was caused by my upbringing; being raised by strong, independent parents who told me to question things and only do that which made sense and was good.

Perhaps, it was due to my many years of watching Star Trek, wherein I've been trained by Captain Kirk to not bow to authority, and by Spock to consider the logic of all situations. Maybe, it's because I like being difficult. Whatever it is, I have a hard time being told to do something, but instead of venting frustration toward those "telling" me to act, I just ignore it.

Societal pressure barely affects me. I don't have body issues, I don't feel I need to do, think, or be a certain way in order to be a point. I also understand societal expectations and try not to clash too much. Like, you wear business attire to a business function. But, since it makes sense, I don't have as much of a problem with it.

So, if/when I am in a relationship during Valentine's Day, I don't feel compelled to do anything unless I actually want to. I wouldn't be one of those rushing out to buy flowers or a card just because society said I should. Now, let's look at the possible pressure from a partner.

Anyone who knows me knows that I try to be honest, and upfront. I have made my views on things very clear from the earliest possible points of my relationships. That being said, I would hope and look for the same thing in a partner. So, my partner would know that I am not going to buy her flowers, cards, or chocolates simply because it's the 14th of February. I might do it because I want to, but not because I felt obligated. And if my partner tried to pressure me into doing so, she might find that our relationship is not made to last, because of my problem with being told what to do.

Now, any married people out there might thing, oh Dallas, you're in for a world of trouble. But, the thing is, while you have to work at relationships, you shouldn't have to work for love. Any pressure from a partner to do so would indicate one of two things: either a lack of confidence/esteem in the strength of the relationship and/or a lack of proper indication on either side as to said strength of feeling. No girlfriend of mine, past or future, would ever have cause for concern as to a lack of attention. I don't smother those I care about, or at least I try not to, but I am upfront so if I like you, you'll know it. I have learned over the years how to explore my feelings a bit more and might be a little less reckless with my heart than before, but still, if I'm with you, you'll know how I feel. So, unless you really had doubts, because of your own problems, you would not feel the need to pressure me into showing my love in an obligatory manner. Of course, if you had those doubts, it might be the cause of a larger issue, in which case I would do everything I could to help, but I would have a hard time being asked to do anything I really didn't feel it was genuine.

So, no societal pressure, and no pressure within the relationship. Let's look at the "being single" aspect. I guess that some people find it hard to be okay about being single while the whole world seems to be going crazy for love. Okay, that's a fair point. It is hard to be different, especially when you feel you're alone. For those who feel this, I'm sorry. Just know that you're not alone. You may physically not have another person there with you, but there are always those who care about you.

For those who grow jealous of those with dates/relationships, try not to be. I am currently one of the few of my close friends who is single. Do I feel jealousy toward them? Absolutely not! I love that they are happy, and I am very glad that they have someone in their lives everyday of the year, not just the near ides of February. Being single can be very rewarding as well, but if you're too bitter to think about that, at least don't be mad at those who aren't bitter, if you can help it.

One quick piece of advice for people in relationships: whether you submit to the pressures you may or may not be faced with, keep an eye out for deals. I may object to doing something purely because of the calendar date, but I'd be foolish to not take advantage of movie or dinner deals. If it was something my partner and I wanted to do anyway, why not save some money?

Finally, I want to stress the important point that many bitter people may have: love is not subject to being celebrated only one day of the year. If you're with someone, you should figure out how you feel and make sure that they know. Not only is communication healthy, it saves a lot of trouble later. And most of us like receiving things so if you get the chance, make sure you shower that special someone with attention every once in a while. Not because you have to, but because maybe you want to but are just lazy sometimes.

It's easy for me to be cheery. I'm a romantic. I like to think of myself as an extremely pragmatic person with a colourful streak of passion. In my first year of undergrad, I bought Valentine's Day cards to give to my friends. My favourite one was a Transformers Optimus Prime inspired one which almost seems like it was advocating being single.
Still, I like doing nice things for people. I mail letters to my friends, and not just in February. For all those out there, in a relationship or not, have a fantastic day and make sure you let people know how you feel about them. (If you happen to not like them, make sure that you do and present the case gently, if possible.)

I will probably spend the day either with friends, or alone curled up in front of the fire. Either way, it'll be a day to remember, like each and everyday should be.

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