OPINION | This Valentine’s Day, focus on the people, not the holiday

A day set aside as a celebration of love should be a good thing. On Valentine’s Day, we get to spend time not only with significant others, but with family and friends who we value and trust.

So why does it seem so stressful for everybody?

There are two major attitudes I encounter surrounding Valentine’s Day. The first is the Hallmark-sponsored festive one that pushes everybody to go out and make dinner reservations, buy chocolate, write love letters and tell that person how you really feel.

The other attitude is the cynical one, where people say “screw Valentine’s Day” and refuse point-blank to celebrate in any way. I have found that many of these people are disillusioned not only with the Hallmark culture, but on a deeper level, romantic relationships in general.

On both ends of the scale, people are putting so much energy into either planning the perfect date or coming up with insults for people planning the perfect date. Neither is sustainable long term.

I used to fall in the “Valentine’s Day is a marketing scam” camp, but now I feel that there’s no reason to call other people out for enjoying time with each other or buying chocolate. Also, a single day should not make or break a relationship.

Valentine’s Day should be a day to celebrate the people you care about, and the people should be more important than the day or the products that come with it.

Raising expectations sky-high for a Valentine’s Day date is only going to mean disappointment. For the planner, they have an unrealistic standard to live up to, and for the recipient, they might not like the result. Everyone also spends time comparing what their significant others did for them on Valentine’s Day, leading to resentment and jealousy over what other people got.

Gifts can be difficult because products are being shoved at us left and right, and so much thought goes into picking the right one. A massive emotional buildup to one day, especially when everyone else is celebrating the same thing, will end up with a massive emotional crash. Valentine’s dates can be fun and exciting, but only if both parties are more focused on enjoying the time they spend with their partner instead of how expensive or meticulous the planning was.

That said, complaining about Valentine’s Day doesn’t do any good either. You spend more time being bitter than recognizing that this is just one day, and nobody is obligated to do anything about it. Mocking other people for expressing their feelings does no one any good.

Instead of bemoaning singlehood or judging the people who do choose to go out and enjoy the day, find a friend and spend time with them instead. Rejoice in the fact that you don’t have a standard to meet or another person to please.

Valentine’s Day is optional. Is it a capitalistic scam? Sometimes, yes. Is it a fun opportunity to show your partner that you care? Yes, if you want to take the opportunity. Like anything else in the world, Valentine’s Day is what you make it. Make it about the people you love, not about the commercialism. That’s how we truly beat Hallmark.

Photo by Pin Adventure Map on Unsplash.