By Dylan Smith
It may be my hipster cynicism, or the fact that I’m still hungover and cranky from the excess of Superbowl ads a couple weekends ago, but I hate Valentine’s Day and all the forced affection and commercialization that comes with it.
I have been in a relationship for nearly six years, so I’m not your typical “I hate Valentine’s Day because I’m lonely” downer. (Although I do sympathize with those that long for a relationship and are forced to face their loneliness because of this holiday. I’m sure they do not need a reminder). Over the years, I have realized that being in a relationship doesn’t merit a celebratory Valentine’s Day. I deeply care about my girlfriend and thoroughly enjoy expressing my feelings for her; I just really don’t like being told when and how to go about it.
My feelings of angst toward the holiday can be traced as far back as elementary school, when I was forced to write out friendly cartoon-themed cards to every person in my class. I remember asking my mom why I had to pretend to appreciate the kids in my class that I truly despised, and she never gave me a concrete answer. Even then, I realized how fake and commercialized the whole affair was.
Later in life, as I fell in love with my girlfriend and began a relationship with her, we did enjoy celebrating the holiday through typical means. I would buy roses and chocolates for her before going to a restaurant of her choice for dinner. And for the first two years, I think we enjoyed the process. I was excited to finally have someone to spend those days with. But as we grew together, the holiday not only became repetitious and phony, it became downright awful.
By our fourth Valentine’s Day together, I had become completely fed up with the lack of creativity and thought that was going into the mundane gifts, and I could tell that she was equally annoyed with the forced repetition of eating out. We slowly began to notice, together, the strained commercialization of the holiday. It became obvious that Valentine’s Day is just another way for companies to trick consumers into thinking they need a certain service or product, so we decided to quit.
We have successfully abandoned the uniformity and collective hand-holding that comes with a Valentine’s Day celebration, deciding that we no longer need to buy into a holiday that tells us how and when to love.
Now, if you are in a relationship and are looking to quit Valentine’s Day as well, I recommend being very careful when pitching the idea to your partner. My girlfriend and I had communicated our feelings toward the holiday for a long time before making the decision together. This, I believe, is the most important aspect of quitting Valentine’s Day: it must happen organically and naturally, and it must be a mutual decision.
Once you and your partner make the decision, it is also very important to ease into it. Quitting Valentine’s Day cold turkey can be a mess. When my girlfriend and I quit, we weaned ourselves off slowly and carefully. The first year, she cooked dinner for me at home and I made her a jewelry box out of an old wooden milk carton. The next year, we spent a relaxing weekend in Tahoe, not mentioning the holiday at all. And now, after two years of weaning, we are ready to detach entirely. This year Valentine’s Day will be nothing but white noise.
If you are really involved with someone, consistency is the best gift you can give. I suggest expressing your feelings for them in a continuous, reliable way rather than on one night a year when everyone else is doing the same thing.
Dylan Smith studies marketing. He can be reached at dsmith@ sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.