‘I’ve Always Dismissed Valentine’s Day – This Year I Feel Insulted By It’

Holidays and weddings, Christmas and casual sex have all been cancelled in the last 12 months - so why has Valentine's Day escaped the axe?

Valentine's day

by Laura Antonia Jordan |
Updated on

The list of things that have been cancelled in the past 12 months is long: the Olympics, Glastonbury, holidays, weddings, the Bond film, spontaneity (and planning, for that matter), exams, Christmas, casual sex (casual anything!), Armie Hammer, fun. But there is one thing has not been axed: Valentine’s Day.

Well, not yet. If Boris Johnson wants to Do The Right Thing – at least according to me – tonight he would announce that Valentine’s too was up for the chop. I would happily compile some graphs, stats and infographics to support the argument (here's one: a through poll of 100% of people in my flat reveals 100% support for the cancellation of 14th February).

The last time I received a Valentine’s gift I was 17. I had two boyfriends at the time - one official, one not. One of them gave me a lava lamp, toddler-sized teddy bear me and a Coldplay CD; he was not my boyfriend – officially or otherwise – for much longer.

I have inhabited many different relationship statuses in the 17 14th Februaries since then. I’ve been living with a long-term partner and completely single, in love with someone who didn’t love me back and loved by someone I didn’t love back, highly sexed and completely under sexed. But never, ever have I acknowledged Valentine’s Day during that time, let alone celebrated it. Nor do I buy into ‘Galentines’ day, not least because I love my friends too much to ever refer to them as ‘gals’.

My problem with Valentine’s Day is chiefly one of aesthetics; everything about it looks so flammable. Shiny balloons, post box red underwear, set menus, chocolate body paint – romance according to the gods of quick-fix retail just doesn’t do it for me (I reluctantly admit there are plenty of chic gift ideas out there). It’s tacky, it’s naff, I would scoff. Some people like that, and that’s lovely for them I’m sure; but I have never been bothered.

But, shhh, a confession: this year I am bothered. This year I would be thrilled to get a tacky card in the post (most likely only from my dad, but still). This year I feel insulted by the very existence of Valentine’s Day. It turns out that it is much easier to eye-roll at the ridiculousness of the whole thing from the luxurious position of being comfortable in your own relationship status – whether you’re married or single or anything in between.

Valentine’s Day 2021 occupies an entirely different landscape to the ones before it. Existing relationships have been stretched and exhausted; single people have felt their former independence morph into a painful loneliness. As if we needed a Hallmark holiday to remind us of that. Of course that’s not the case for everyone, but it is for many (if you are euphorically happy in your relationship right now, you do not get a special day, you have every day).

The problem for anyone disillusioned by their current relationship status is that we are trapped, without room to manoeuvre out of whatever situation we’re currently in. In lockdown it has become clear to me that my head is a monster; it will tell me everyone else is spending their days having sex and making pottery, even if I know they too are probably eating cereal straight out of the box and arranging their spice racks for ‘fun’.

And so, for the past few months, my emotional self-care regime has meant giving anything sexy, or that might even loosely be considered ‘romantic’, a wide berth. I have steered clear of Bridgerton, I will not be watching Pride & Prejudice now it’s back on Netflix, I think I would probably even find the narrative arc of porn too moving at this point. ‘Safe’ things for me to watch are currently limited to war films and murder documentaries. Honestly, can you believe I am single?

Needless to say, I must proceed with extreme caution around Instagram, comparison is a killer, and won't be looking at it at all on Sunday. In fact, I will be actively encouraging about Valentine-phobics to take the 'bury your head in the sand' (or, pillows) approach to it this year. One benefit of lockdown is that it doesn't need to intrude on your personal space. Ignorance is bliss, but actively ghosting Valentine's Day is even more delightful.

If I sound bitter, that's because I am. I am furious, actually, with how life has panned out in the last couple of years. I am bruised, and feel let down by my big, silly heart which gets me into so much trouble (you can be a ridiculous romantic and hate Valentine's Day).

It's the feeling of the future being put into cold storage that has left me feeling particularly sore. But one kind friend did surprise me with a rather perfect gift in response to the funk I’ve found myself in, a tarot reading – done over the phone – with Psychic Sisters’ Jayne Wallace, the internationally renowned clairvoyant who has read for the likes of Kim Kardashian West (you can book an appointment via Selfridges). Since I am happy to try and sage-and-crystal my way out of any situation, I was responsive. And it was soothing, galvanising to be told that, no, life wouldn’t still look like this in a year. Of course I know that, things are constantly changing, but sometimes you just need someone else to tell you that life might surprise you in a good way.

Perhaps it all sounds a little too ‘kaftan’ to you, and if so that’s fine. But for me, the possibility of there being something more than life as it is now is the greatest gift I could ask for this 14th February. Who knows? Next year I might even want to celebrate Valentine’s Day – I am willing to be surprised.

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