Valentine's Day sucks for everyone.
Single and taken alike.
Guaranteed to make you feel miserable.
Before, during, or after said holiday.
Sure it is a great way for florists and greeting card companies, confectionary shops and restaurants to make extra cash.
But for most other mortals, it sucks big time.
Υou single? So thrilled watching that colleague proudly strutting to her desk with a dozen roses on tow or the other one discussing her hot date and reservations for 8 a.m. You look around you and the world seems swamped in a sickening aura of couples who can't wait to copulate.
Just because you are solo on this particular day of all days, you can't help but feel utterly lonely and completely unlovable, being the involuntary witness to all those public exhibitions of affection around you.
And then the inevitable self-pity that washes over you:
''What's wrong with me? Why am I so unworthy of love? Why am I such a loser?''
Or ,worse yet, you start pining for your ex, wishing you were back together.
You in a relationship? You have it even worse than those singles.
Every February 14 you' re expected to join your sweetheart in a day resembling a douche commercial and porno movie combined - to come home from work to find your bed strewn by dozens and dozens of red roses and him or her reading Rumi by candlelight, all of this topped off with hot sex.
Women in relationships go around carrying that secret expectation that their man will make them swoon with their romantic actions on that day. Think of red roses adorning white tablecloths, fine wine in crystal glasses, a long evening spent staring into each other's eyes by candlelight and him so hot that you have no choice but to roll under the covers until dawn.
And men, poor men! Men in a relationship on Valentine's day, you got to pity the creature.
Gift giving on that date is fraught with danger for any guy. How much is enough? You don't have to come across as unfeeling or unromantic, just the right dose of romantic and sexy . You dont want to give her the wrong impressions, but also want that gift to be the right kind and style for her, a sort of test of how much you love her.
Enough to send a man into panic attack mode.
And what of those that are in the relationship for sometime now -read 99 % of couples- and no longer feel that ''touch-and-faint' feeling of the first time they started dating?
Valentine's day can send them into a bout of obsessive examining of their feelings:
''Do I really love him/her? It's not as good as it used to be/doesn't lead anywhere/doesnt make me swoon with passion, do I still wonna be with him/her?'' ''Why cant we be like this any more? Does'nt true love mean that your stomach does flip-flops when your partner walks through the door? And if we no longer feel like this, maybe we're with the wrong partner?''
Yes, when we're under the massive cultural illusion of romantic love, Valentine's Day is a set up, whether you are single or not.
We all admit it and yet every year we fall under the same self-delusional trap of stupid expectations.
And end up depressed and disillusioned.
Single and taken alike.
Here's a trite suggestion:
Let us all free ourselves from the obsessive tyranny of Valentine's Day expectations.
The first step:
Recognise that Valentine's Day is an illusion created by media and commerce and mass consciousness that we are all choosing to believe in.
There is no special meaning or special energy on Valentine's Day other than what we project into it.
Can we all recognise the eroding influence of advertising to our souls, of making us hold impossible, unrealistic expectations of love and still hold ourselves accountable for buying into it?
Just as neither fashion magazine editors nor supermodels should have to feel guitly about us not feeling happy with our bodies, Valentine's Day crap is not responsible for our disempowerement about and around love.
We get to decide what the day means to each one of us.
Let us make it our own celebration by OUR definition.
-If you are single, love your singleness.
Think about all the marvelous benefits of being single, from not fighting over the TV remote control to being able to keep your living space to youself to not having to go through terrible fights.
And realise that feeling lonely when single is far, far better than feeling lonely in a relationship you cant get out of ( having been in an emotionally and at times physically abusive relationship I can personally attest to that).
Don't fall for the hype that everyone who is paired off is happy. You know it's not true.
Divorce statistics and the stories of unhappy marriages seem to attest otherwise for a large group of people.
So, rather than feeling down on Valentine's Day, celebrate the strengths and achievements that testify to you being a whole and healthy person, a person who has space for love should it come along but who does not need such a relationship to create self-worth and happiness right now.
On Valentine's Day spend time going out with friends and celebrate the shit out of a great night.
Alternatively if you can't go out at all, think of all the love moments in your life till now. Appreciate the love you have or had. Appreciation is a surefire way to have some of the same show up in your life. Appreciate and thank God or the universe for all the love that you've had in your life.
Love comes and goes in cycles, because she's a female force. Nourish the memories, not in bitterness, but in humble gratitude and happy anticipation for yet more of those moments to come. Life is a wonderful adventure with surprises on every turning.
-If you are in a relationship, vow to prove to each other that your committed hearts are richer than your wallets.
Don't feel like you've failed your sweetheart or that your sweetheart failed you because you're not having dinner at the most expensive restaurant in town or because you're not swamped in material tokens of affection
Realise that giving something special to our most beloved or even a small gesture of love and a dose of extra kindness are greater tokens of love than all the expensive gifts in the world when given with a cold, unfeeling heart.
And please, no expectations.
No expectations to feel a certain way, to feel an overwhelming sensation of love on this 'magical' day.
And appreciate, appreciate him or her, appreciate the shit of them.
True love can be about doing the shopping or getting out the rubbish or clearing the driveway from the snow as much as it is about getting up 10 times at night to care for a crying newborn,vacuuming the house although tired or preparing a tasty meal for everyone.
True love can be giving her directions via text messages -because you cant reach her any other way at the moment- on what homeopathic stuff to take to get rid of crippling period pain coupled with terrible flu symptoms that are giving her the shakes, when she's out of painkillers and too weak to go out get some (true story).
True love is truly in the moments, not on some mandatory, commercialised ,public exhibition of a date on the calendar.
And deep down we all know that.
Valentine's Day is supposed to be about love and tenderness, but it has turned into a holiday riven with competition, hyper-consumerism and dashed hopes.
Every day is the perfect day to appreciate and show love to ourselves and to the ones we love.
Down with Valentine's Day tyranny!