Several years ago and in a brand new relationship, I enjoyed what I thought were all the classic Valentine’s Day trappings, including an invite to a Valentine’s Ball. That year, the heart-shaped balloons weren’t garish - they were fun! The onslaught of slushy songs wasn’t cheesy – it was meaningful and touching! And for once, instead of noticing the hand holding and knowing looks around the table and wondering when it would be my turn, I was busy holding hands and giving knowing looks of my own.
Fast forward a year and newly single, I had to go to another Valentine’s Ball as it was too late to drop out. This time I experienced the vomit-inducing Ed Sheeran and Adele songs and romantic decor through a very different lens (even the bloody soup featured cream poured in the shape of a heart). This really was a souped-up version of my least favourite scenario: being on my own in a sea of happy couples with no eject button. And on the most romantic night of the year too!
I ended up having a great time in the end, and since then, my perspective on Valentine’s Day has changed a lot. Although I wasn’t Elton John the last time I checked, I’m quite capable of buying myself flowers and do so regularly. So why did it take me over 40 years to realise I can do this on Valentine’s Day too?!
In celebration of this epiphany last year, I decided to treat myself to a beautiful bouquet (which I had delivered to my doorstep, thank you very much). I also added some beautiful heart-shaped chocolates and pink fizz too. Although my plans aren’t quite so lavish this year, I’ll certainly be buying myself flowers again. Because why not.
But why does all the pink sparkly stuff matter so much? I reckon it’s because it hits us right in our weakest spot: wanting to be part of something. And unfortunately, society tells us that if we haven’t achieved this romantically, we’ve somehow failed, despite all of the other rich and wonderful relationships we might be blessed to have.
What I’ve realised is that Valentine’s Day - and relationships in general - aren't a simple “them and us" equation, with “them" being smug couples gazing into one another’s eyes on romantic mini breaks and “us" being the ones sat at home feeling lonely.
It’s the ones who, like me, are quite happy to go it alone until they meet the right person. It’s the ones who are in a relationship with a perfectly nice partner but feeling trapped and guilty because it doesn’t feel right anymore. It’s the ones whose partners started out with the hearts, flowers and grand gestures, then gradually became abusive. It’s the ones whose beautiful soul mates are tragically no longer with us. And of course, it’s the ones who are genuinely, happily and healthily inlove, who show us the type of relationship that’s really worth waiting for.
Because to me, anything less than the latter isn’t.
So on Valentine’s Day, whichever of the above categories you fall into, remember: you are part of something, and if you want your hearts and flowers, you 100% deserve them.
Even if it means buying them yourself for now.