By Alex Channing
It’s inevitable that anyone who isn’t in a relationship this Valentine’s Day is going to feel a degree of frustration. Some more than others, but I truly think everyone will at least slightly. People around us in relationships are getting excited and passionate about all the ways they can show affection to their other half. Gifts, roses, dates, chocolates, fancy restaurants, breakfast in bed, travels, films, quiet nights, kisses and hugs. Admittedly, most of this does make me cringe somewhat, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t give me a bit of envy at the broader emotion of love that it is being shown.
I’m 18 and have never been in a proper relationship my entire life. I’ve ‘spoken’ to people on and off, as I’m sure many of us have, but nothing I’ve ever been able to call a relationship. That can obviously be difficult, especially when many of my friends are getting so riled up about Valentine’s Day. I can’t be dishonest and say that I never feel lonely or like I’m lacking some sort of romantic fulfilment, because I do. Equally though, I can’t say that I’m constantly longing for a relationship, because I’m not.
Having someone else won’t automatically make things perfect in life, no matter how much it may seem like it will. I know people who are in loving relationships that can still find themselves experiencing the same nasty feelings of depression, anxiety and loneliness that all the rest of us do. Yet, that doesn’t go to say that their relationships don’t make them happy. The happiness it can give is emphasised by people’s sense of passion and affection that they want to express at this time of year.
Regardless though, I still think there’s many imperfect aspects about Valentine’s Day. I’d really hate to sound lonely and bitter, but I think that the public and shameless displays of affection often seen on Valentine’s Day can make single people cringe quite a bit. It’s not just single people though, I also know people who are in dedicated relationships that cringe massively at some of the cheesy and over the top displays.
I genuinely just don’t think that Valentine’s Day should cause any feelings of envy or unfulfillment in people who are single. But if this isn’t you, and you have a slight sense of envy about these endearing and romantic displays of affection, it’s important to remember what these these expressions don’t tell you about the true nature of a couple.
A couple’s love isn’t magically intensified or made flawless during the 24 hours of Valentine’s Day. Instead it’s just as likely to cause a lot of stress and set unreachable expectations between the two people. They are unsure about what to buy, what to do, how to act, and are anxious about whether they are meeting the huge social expectations placed upon them and their relationship.
When it comes to general ideas of ‘love’ and relationships though, because that is what this boils down to, its important to remember that people always want what they don’t have. Many single people will want a relationship or significant other in their life, and speaking for myself – I admit that I often feel discontent and unfulfilled when it comes to romance.
If you are single, and completely and utterly satisfied with the state of your life, I applaud you, because it truly is difficult to achieve and sustain that state of peace with yourself. If you are aiming to achieve that state, try and realise that many couples are far from perfect and experience a lot of internal problems others can’t recognise.
You should always accept the current circumstances of your life, find comfort in it, and make a warming and enjoyable experience out of whatever your situation is.
For me, on Valentine’s Day this year, my best friend Rosie is coming up from home for the weekend. We’re gonna be snuggled up under blankets with a bottle or two of red wine, a few bars of Dairy Milk, and some melodramatic music we can sing to while reflecting on our lives. We’ll be sipping our wine while cackling at some of the day’s tasteless vanity contests, knowing that we have saved ourselves from the capitalist exploitation that so many have fell victim to.
It can feel hopeless trying to chase love with other people, especially near Valentine’s Day, but you need to remember that the most important relationship you’ll ever have in this life is the one with yourself. Try to understand that, and find content with being romantically alone in this moment. Move the energy you may otherwise be trying to spend chasing others and focus it on yourself – I can honestly say that it is definitely worth it. Eventually, it will give you the fulfilment you may be searching for in life.